January, 2008
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

First-Time Buyers' Seminars


Part 1 of 2

Welcome to Build Your Business. Each month, we contribute an article that provides some sound approaches to strategic business growth that have been field-tested for success by some of the most experienced home inspectors in North America. Whether it’s sales and advertising strategies, tips on making your business more customer-centric or how to evaluate public relations opportunities, our goal is to stimulate your interest to work on your business rather than just in it.

Participating in first-time homebuyers’ seminars is a powerful way to acquire new clients and, more importantly, to create working relationships with real estate agents, bankers, mortgage brokers, title
companies and real estate lawyers.

Seminar speakers usually represent all the professionals involved in real estate transactions. Each gives a brief overview of what he or she does, some practical advice and the cost of services. While the seminar is obviously a business development opportunity for the service providers, it is also an opportunity for homebuyers to quickly learn a great deal. Each of the professionals who presents should give advice on the service without directly promoting him or herself. There is no need to promote your company during your talk. Your participation as the guest expert is enough for the attendees to pick you for their inspection. You gain credibility by position and association.

Usually, a real estate agent or a bank hosts the first-time buyers’ seminar. The bank and the real estate agent are in the best position to find participants, and they have more to gain financially from the event than other service providers. The bank can put up a sign or poster in the bank advertising a free seminar designed to help homebuyers survive the real estate transaction. Agents often advertise seminars in magazines or newsletters that list homes for sale. Agents often have a database of people interested in purchasing a house.

Seminar participants may include any or all of the following:
  • bank mortgage specialist or bank manager,
  • mortgage broker rather than a bank,
  • real estate agent,
  • home inspector, and
  • real estate lawyer or title company representative.
There are costs involved in putting on this type of event. Usually, the bank will offer its space for the seminar at no charge. Other costs include advertising, answering consumer questions, registering attendees, providing snacks, assembling handout material, renting audiovisual equipment and so on. As a presenter, you may be asked to contribute to the seminar financially. Before you agree to split the costs equally, consider this: The home inspector has the least to gain from each prospect. If the agent acquires two or three clients who end up buying houses, he or she will gain thousands of dollars in commissions. The bank may write a million dollars in mortgages. Even the lawyer may make three times what the home inspector will make. The home inspector makes less on every real estate transaction than the other parties.

We have participated in first-time buyers’ seminars for years and don’t pay anything. Instead, because we have developed a reputation as great guest speakers, our contribution is our presentation. The very nature of our business ensures a compelling presentation because people learn something new about the systems of a house. If you have visuals — an example of a bad renovation, scary wiring, a leaning house — your presentation will be entertaining, valuable and memorable. It’s easy to capture attention with a few well-chosen pictures.

Next month, we will look at some of the strategies that you can use during and after the seminar.

This article is based on content from “Building Your Home Inspection Business – A guide to marketing, sales, advertising and public relations,” authored by Carson Dunlop and published by Dearborn Home Inspection. Carson Dunlop also authors the Home Reference Book, Essentials of Home Inspection, the Illustrated Home and most recently, HORIZON, a unique Web-based reporting system. See www.carsondunlop.com or www.dearbornhomeinspection.com for more information.