The following is an excerpt from an interview with Shawn Foster of Bluewater Inspections that took place on the night of October 12, 2009 in Hermosa Beach, CA:
Tony: Shawn, thanks for agreeing to sit down with me to talk about home inspections. How long have you lived in the South Bay?
Shawn: I moved here in 2001. I am originally from Kansas City, but I’ve lived in the Taos, NM area as well as in Scottsdale, AZ.
Tony: When did you first get involved with housing?
Shawn: When I was 14 I had a job working with masons doing some wheelbarrow and mixing work. I’ve pretty much been involved with housing ever since. I’ve done framing, wiring, painting, and all kinds of work on houses.
Tony: When did you start doing home inspections?
Shawn: I’ve been doing home inspections since 2002. At this point, I have done at least 2,500 of them.
Tony: I assume that your volume of business is connected to the number of homes that are selling. Last year, a little less than half the number of homes that sold in 2002 were sold in Manhattan Beach. Have you experienced similar declines in your business?
Shawn: Absolutely! The market has dropped significantly in the years that I have been doing this. In fact, many of the realtors that I used to work with have moved on to other professions. Nonetheless, I enjoy it and just make up the slack doing related work.
Tony: What other changes have you experienced during this time?
Shawn: I used to bring a large reference book with me when I went into the field. It was cumbersome and time consuming. In the last couple of years, I started to use a handheld computer for this instead. I can do a walk through in an hour or so and capture all of my notes in my handheld. I can download my notes when I return to my office and sync up any photos that I have taken. This not only makes life a lot easier, but I think the results are even better for my clients. They get a full report complete with key photos a well as a punchlist of everything that they would need to do to improve the house.
Another change is that it seems to be more of a buyer’s market at this time. This can impact the motivating factors behind the inspections and possibly the home negotiation process.
Tony: What is the biggest challenge in homes these days and is it common?
Shawn: The answer would be mold, of which there are many types. It is not only a problem physically for the structure, but it can pose health risks for occupants. Luckily, it’s not very common in the South Bay.
Tony: Do you have any interesting stories from the field?
Shawn: I remember one home behind the gates in Palos Verdes that a buyer was considering. It was staggering how mold infested it was. The potential buyer and his agent waited outside while I checked out the inside. I came out after a short while and walked to my car to get a respirator and gloves after seeing how damaged this home was. I learned later that the buyer passed on this particular house. He shared with me that it was the look on my face when I went to my car that tipped him off to the extent of the challenges inside. I’ll never forget that place.
Tony: Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me.
Shawn: You got it. Thank you.
Added: by Utopia Realty