Five Questions for Arlene Puentes, owner, October Home Inspections and Miki Mertz, president, Complete Home Inspections
In July 2005, ASHI released the “Single Women Fast Becoming a Homebuying Niche; ASHI Inspections Protect Buying Power, Sharpen Investment Prowess,” press release addressing the second largest niche category (single women) of the national homebuying market. The following Q&A with Arlene and Miki, two of ASHI’s more active female members, demonstrates their perspective on the topic of women and the home inspection industry.
How did you get your start in the home inspection profession? When did you become an ASHI Member?
Arlene Puentes (AP): I became an ASHI Member in June 2004. Before becoming a home inspector, I worked for a not-for-profit housing agency and there began my technical training.
Miki Mertz (MM): I was a school teacher for 11 years. In 1991, I moved to a new city. There were no positions for me in my field, so I answered an ad for an office manager position at a home inspection company. I worked in that position for one year while training as a home inspector. I opened my own company in 1992 and became an ASHI Member in 1993.
As a woman in a predominantly male industry, do you feel you are at an advantage with the growing population of female homebuyers? Why or why not?
MM: I don’t feel that I am at an advantage just because I’m female.
AP: In the end, the advantages and disadvantages balance out.
MM: I still have to do a quality home inspection and report. However, some women may at least call me to show their support of a woman-owned business.
AP: Never underestimate the trust a woman has for another woman. However, to this day, there are some people who believe that women don’t know as much about building science as men do. It balances it out.
In light of the rapidly increasing number of women homebuyers, do you feel the need for a stronger female presence in the home inspection profession? Please explain.
AP: I’m not so sure the profession needs a greater female presence. The profession needs good, ethical home inspectors, regardless of sex.
MM: Some women, especially single women, may feel more comfortable talking to a female home inspector about a home’s systems and components. If she is buying the home on her own, she may feel more confident knowing that women can do this.
AP: Personally, I need more women home inspectors in the business so that I don’t feel so isolated. Also, women who would find this work rewarding need to have this profession presented to them as an option.
How would you characterize the benefits of your ASHI membership and where do you see ASHI going in the near future?
MM: Education and networking are the biggest benefits I get from belonging to ASHI. I learn new things every time I go to a national or local ASHI seminar.
AP: ASHI offers camaraderie and mentorship and the ability to have senior inspectors who take the time to share their work experiences.
MM: I have friends all over the country who I can call on for advice or ideas.
MM: Since ASHI continues to grow and become a more responsive organization, I see it continuing as the recognized leader of the industry.
Are there any insights you would like to offer to women thinking about joining you in the home inspection profession?
AP: Follow your bliss. If this is right for you, don’t let anyone or anything get in your way.
MM: Learn everything you can about houses. Read. Go to home inspection classes. Join a local ASHI chapter. Find a mentor. Have confidence in yourself without getting an attitude. You always can learn more. Present yourself as a professional at all times. Believe you can do it!