Purchasing a Home in Tennessee? What to Know About Home Inspectors.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 | 01:02pm

From news stories to social media, talk about Tennessee’s record-setting pace and prices for home sales seems to be everywhere. The strong interest in the Volunteer State’s housing market is proof that Tennessee has the right mix of leadership, employment and recreational opportunities when it comes to attracting prospective homebuyers.

Even as homeowners and homebuyers help bolster the Volunteer State’s economy, some consumers and real estate professionals may find themselves caught up in the breakneck pace and overlook crucial information when it comes to the role that home inspectors can play in the purchase of a home.

Home inspections are an educational asset that can help buyers make informed choices about the home they are considering purchasing. A licensed home inspector is an independent professional apart from the real estate agent or mortgage lender who provides a visual evaluation of the property.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Regulatory Boards and TDCI’s Home Inspector Licensing Program want to help educate consumers when it comes to the role that Tennessee’s more than 2,000 home inspectors do and do not play when it comes to buying and selling a home.

Before hiring a home inspector, consumers should learn what a home inspector actually does during an inspection. During an inspection, a home inspector visually inspects a home’s structural components (foundation, floors, roof and walls), windows, heating and cooling systems, plumbing and electrical systems. When the inspector has completed his or her inspection, the inspector then creates a detailed report explaining the areas of the house that require repair or could potentially become problematic in the future.

Learning what a home inspection does not entail is equally important as many consumers mistakenly think home inspectors have more duties than they are actually required by law to include. Home inspectors are not required to:

  • Walk a home’s roof.
  • Enter a home's crawlspace if obstructed, impassable, causes damage to the structure, or deemed to be dangerous.
  • Look for mold or microorganisms though the report might note their presence, but probably need follow-up by a specialist.
  • Offer or perform any act or service contrary to law.
  • Offer or perform any other job function requiring a license such as engineering, architectural, plumbing or electrical work.

Another misconception that some consumers may have is that a home inspection is required by law in Tennessee before a home is sold. While a home inspection is a good idea so a buyer may have a better understanding of a home’s current condition, a home inspection is not required before the sale or purchase of a home.

Additionally, some consumers mistakenly believe a home inspection is required before getting a mortgage. That is because sometimes consumers confuse a home inspection with a home appraisal. In fact, there may be some overlap in terms of an inspection and an appraisal’s information. The home inspection is for the buyer’s benefit only. A home appraisal is required before a mortgage lender approves a mortgage.

When it comes to getting a home inspection, TDCI reminds consumers to always use a licensed home inspector. Before scheduling a home inspection, visit verify.tn.gov to check the licensing status of thousands of home inspectors and other licensed professionals regulated by TDCI. Consumers or real estate professionals with questions about home inspectors should contact TDCI’s Home Inspector Licensing Program at Home.Inspector.Licensing@TN.Gov or file a complaint online at core/tn.gov.

By learning about the role home inspectors play, consumers can help ease uncertainty when it comes to purchasing a home and make the process of buying a home go as smoothly as possible.

Michael Schulz serves as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Home Inspector Licensing Program at the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.