Take a look around any room full of home inspectors and you’ll notice we look a lot alike. We are almost all white men with a lot of gray hair. It’s as if there’s an unwritten rule that you have to be an old white guy to be a home inspector. And it takes one to know one: I’m a second-generation white-guy home inspector.
But it is obvious that we don’t reflect our community in terms of gender, race and ethnicity, nor age. This bothers me. But more than that, it seems to be a business opportunity.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, single female home buyers made up 17% of home sales in 2019, while single male buyers made up nine percent. I’ve learned from experience that a lot of women would prefer to work with a female home inspector. The first woman inspector on our team here at Structure Tech quickly became one of the most highly requested inspectors. She also received a lot of requests from people who had never worked with her before. There’s a huge demand for female home inspectors in our industry, and it isn’t being met.
The ASHI Reporter has been profiling female home inspectors in their monthly magazine since 2014, and I meet new female home inspectors at every conference I attend. Yet, change is slow. Here’s what a couple of them shared with me about this profession:
“Working as a woman in a male-dominated field has been a great experience for me. Despite occasionally being mistaken for the real estate agent, my clients have been overwhelmingly supportive of me as a home inspector, and sellers have expressed a certain ease knowing a woman is in their home. In fact, many clients have specifically asked for a female inspector. Being a woman has also been quite advantageous in building my career, as female inspectors tend to get noticed more easily. It’s extremely rewarding to hear support for more women in the building industry, and I implore any woman interested in this kind of work not to shy away from it. I’ve built up a wonderful career for myself and thoroughly enjoy the professional relationships with real estate agents and clients I’ve developed over the years.” – Uli Sommers
“In today’s world, women can be and do anything they train to do. I have never experienced discrimination because I was female. Just like every other new inspector, you have to prove you have the knowledge and skill to do your job. Speak with confidence and take charge of the inspection when clients and agents are present.” – Miki Mertz
I have a young daughter who wants to be a home inspector when she grows up. If I tried to tell her that this job was for men, she’d think I lost my mind. She firmly believes that girls can do anything that boys can do—and she’s right.
If you’re a woman and you’re interested in home inspections, I encourage you to pursue that interest. And if you’re reading this and you know any women who you think would be a great home inspector, please encourage them to check it out. This is a highly satisfying job that people rarely want to leave.
People of Color
Many inspection companies want a racially and ethnically diverse team of people who represent the various communities they serve. Today many companies can’t say they have that. If you’re a person of color or you know one who would be a great home inspector, please encourage them to check it out.
Though companies have some younger inspectors on their team, it is unusual to find home inspectors under the age of 45. A 2017 survey by the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (Figure 1) found that less than 22% of U.S. home inspectors were under 45 years of age. We have a ton of older home inspectors in this business who are at or near retirement age, and someone will need to fill those positions.
Figure 1: 2017 Survey on Age Ranges of Home Inspectors
I started inspecting houses at the age of 25 after going through a lot of unstructured training with my pops, as well as a ton of self-study. I received my share of questionable looks and sincere questions about whether my dad would be coming on the inspection or not, but I was always able to earn people’s trust by the end of the inspection. While age can sometimes bring related experience, this doesn’t translate to a better home inspector. If you’re young, don’t let your age turn you away from this profession—gray hair is not required.