12 Ways to Get Your Home Inspection Contract Signed Before You Start

Zoomed-in image of elderly man and woman sitting together and signing a home inspection contract on paper, smiles on their faces.

In 2017, a couple discovered their “dream home.” Wanting to buy, they approached the seller and negotiated a price and a closing date. They shook hands on it. But weeks later, the seller still hadn’t signed the corresponding written contract.

It didn’t matter how badly the couple wanted the house. It didn’t matter that they shook on it. With no contract in place, there were no terms and there was no deal, explained Gary M. Singer in his article for the The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

“Your legal options are limited due to the ‘Statute of Frauds.’ Basically, this rule of law states that certain types of agreements must be in writing and signed in order to be enforceable,” Singer wrote. “Until such time that the seller is willing to put pen to paper, you have nothing.”

Many home inspectors may balk at the naiveness of the couple in the story above. But so, too, do lawyers balk at inspectors who think they don’t need signed home inspection contracts to perform their work. Critical to setting expectations, fulfilling state regulations, defending against claims, and qualifying for insurance coverage, signed pre-inspection agreements are the pinnacle of risk management for home inspectors.

And yet, many still struggle to get their home inspection contracts signed prior to every inspection. Worse still, some inspectors routinely settle for client signatures after the inspection starts. (Before you release the report is NOT the same as before you start the inspection! Paying for the inspection doesn’t count as consenting to the terms, either.)

Not anymore. For 2024, we’re encouraging signed agreements ahead of time, every time. And we’ve solicited inspectors like you to help us. We’ve consolidated 200 inspectors’ tips and our own expertise to give you these 12 ways to get your home inspection contract signed.

1. Explain why a signed home inspection service agreement is important.

Elderly man and woman discuss documents, like home inspection contracts, together while sitting at a table in front of a laptop.

Explaining why it’s important may seem like a weird method to start with.

Actually, across our survey responses, communicating why home inspection contracts are essential went a long way to encourage clients to sign. Many inspectors, like Jim Skurski of Pillar To Post Peachtree Corners in Georgia, recommend discussing your pre-inspection agreement on your initial booking calls with clients.

“I explain the purpose of the agreement to them, which is that it gives me permission to be on the property as well as outlines the limitations of the visual inspection I’m about to perform,” Skurski said.

When explaining why you need them to sign, say you can’t start the home inspection until after the contract’s terms are formally agreed to, as Jana Saunders of InspectUP in Utah recommends.

“We let the client and realtors know that our inspectors will not be allowed to start the inspection unless we have received the signed contract. Our inspectors then are required to check to see if we have that before heading to the inspection location,” Saunders said.

Contract Talking Points

Here’s a list of some home inspection contract details you can go over during your booking calls:

  • What a pre-inspection agreement is.
  • What information an inspection agreement typically includes.
  • Why you need it.
  • When and how you’re sending it.
  • How they can ask you questions about it.
  • How they can sign it.
  • By when they need to sign it.

When explaining why you need them to sign, say you can’t inspect until they agree to the terms of your inspection. If your state requires clients to sign pre-inspection agreements, let them know they’re legally obligated to do so, like Doron Bracha of Accent Home Inspection, LLC in Massachusetts.

“I explain that a signed agreement is required by state regulations, so people understand and collaborate,” Bracha said.

The one thing we don’t recommend is blaming us, your insurance company. While insurance itself doesn’t put a target on your back, talking about it during the booking process and putting it at the forefront of your clients’ minds just might.

2. Require signatures to confirm their appointment.

This is our favorite technique because it isn’t one we’ve heard of before and it’s incredibly effective: No signed agreement? Then your inspection isn’t officially on the calendar.

“The email that contains the agreements states the time reserved is not confirmed until the agreements are reviewed and signed prior to the inspection. If not signed, the time reserved will be voided,” explained Steve Morris of Heritage Home Inspectors in Pennsylvania.

Fletcher Adams of BetterView Home Inspections in Florida takes a similar approach.

“My inspection contract is sent out by my report writing software after I verbally sell the inspection to the client on the phone. The client is informed that the inspection will not be scheduled until the terms of the contract have been signed,” Adams said.

Shoutouts to Ross Relyea of Sweet Homes Chittenango in New York, Pam and Brian McCrone of Premier Inspections of Florida LLC, Brandy and Poe Barnes of Halo Inspections in Arizona, Michael Valtierra of TNT Home Inspections in Texas, Rebecca and Stuart Fleming of Advanced Home Inspections in Texas, Sal Mustafa of Property Inspections HQ in New York, Humburto Lastre of Florida Inspections Unlimited, and Randy Bayer of Texas SureHome Inspection Services, Inc. for also employing the confirmation method.

3. Collect signatures electronically.

We’ve been preaching the advantages of electronic signatures for nearly a decade, and many inspectors have adopted e-signatures themselves. Nearly 40 percent of the home inspectors who participated in our survey collect inspection contract signatures electronically. Many use DocuSign.

By using software like DocuSign, your clients can type their name or select from a preformatted signature option to accept your home inspection contract’s terms. With the convenience of signing your contracts from anywhere, clients are more likely to get a signature back to you promptly.

“For 20 years, I would bring the contract onsite and get it signed during the inspection, which I understand now was not the wisest thing. When Covid hit, clients were not attending the inspections, and I went to a DocuSign agreement,” said 2023 ASHI President Lisa Allajijian-Giroux of HomeQuest Consultants in Massachusetts. “Because people wanted to get the inspection done in a timely fashion, agreements were signed quicker than ever, and payments were made prior to the inspection. I continue to use DocuSign today because it works.”

From a risk management standpoint, electronic signatures do the trick. But what counts as a legal, electronic signature? And can you certify an electronic signature? 

The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) both certify electronic signatures are legally binding and enforceable in the United States. Additionally, most electronic signature software has additional authentication methods to verify your signer’s identity, like digital signatures and IP addresses.

However, while we at InspectorPro Insurance recognize e-signatures, not all home inspection insurance providers do. If you aren’t insured with us, check your policy’s definition of “inspection agreement” or ask your broker to confirm their insurance covers inspections performed under an e-signed home inspection contract.

4. Kill more birds with your inspection software.

Of the inspectors that collect electronic signatures, more than half use their inspection software. By integrating your pre-inspection agreement into your software, you can get more bang for your buck, use more automated communication, and store everything (including reports) in one place.

“Automation is key to my business. I use an online business management platform. As soon as I book an appointment, an email goes out to the client with various useful information, FAQ-style. One of the items states clearly that the state of Arizona requires them to sign a pre-inspection agreement, and that they must sign the agreement prior to the appointment. This is followed by a link to sign the inspection agreement,” said Alex Byron of Desert Diamond Home Inspections in Arizona.

Byron’s system continues to send out email reminders about the appointment and the home inspection contract until the client signs.

According to John Reim of Bee Sure Home Inspection Services in Illinois, it’s these automatic reminders that enable his team to collect signatures the majority of the time.

“Technology today makes obtaining a signed agreement easier than ever,” Reim said. “The client is automatically sent multiple email reminders and even text messages instructing them to review and approve the inspection agreement. Ninety percent of the time, we are able to receive a signed agreement at least 24 hours prior to the inspection appointment–often shortly after the appointment is scheduled.”

As with electronic signature providers, there are lots of home inspection software companies to choose from. What works best for you will depend on the features you need and how much you want to pay. However, our survey participants favored Spectora the most. Inspectors frequently mentioned Inspection Support Network (ISN) and InterNACHI’s online inspection agreement system, too.

5. Send lots of emails.

Front laptop screen, featuring the keyboard and the email service Gmail loading for the user, whose face is not shown.

Whether you automate it through software or do it manually, emails can help. The inspectors we surveyed send emails—and lots of them.

As soon as the inspection is scheduled, most inspectors begin with an email confirming the inspection and providing the home inspection contract. Then they follow up with reminders to sign, increasing the frequency of the emails as they get closer to the inspection date.

Another email tip: If you’re inspecting for a couple, email both of them, recommends Yaakov Fisgus of Inspect It Rite. By contacting both parties, you increase your likelihood of getting a result.

A handful of inspectors say they have clients simply respond to the email to accept the agreement. Generally, we don’t like this and it isn’t always admissible in court.

If you do end up in a position where you need clients to accept the home inspection contract via email, you could include something like the following:

You may formalize your acceptance of the agreement via email by replying to this email with the following statement: “I have thoroughly reviewed the entire agreement and am in full agreement with all the stipulated terms and conditions. Kindly proceed with the inspection.”

6. Text them, too.

When emails elicit no response, some inspectors turn to text messaging. In fact, some inspection software products allow automated text messages as part of their follow-up cadence.

“Emails and text messages go out five, two, one days prior and the day of the inspection reminding them to sign,” said Erik Robinson of Exclusive Home Evaluations & Inspections in Colorado.

7. When in doubt, call them out.

If you’re down to the wire and still not getting a response, inspectors recommend giving clients a call. Calling can put a fire under your clients to encourage them to sign quickly. It can also uncover potential problems your clients may be having signing electronically, like tech challenges or language barriers.

Andrew Harshman of Dwell Inspect Arizona says persistent phone calls are a sure-fire way to get your home inspection contract signed prior to the inspection.

“Call them every morning and tell them that we can’t perform the inspection until they are signed,” Harshman said.

8. Get the agent on your side.

You’re not the only one who needs your client to sign your inspection agreement before you start. The real estate agent does, too. Rescheduling or canceling an inspection can postpone the real estate transaction–and the agent’s commission check. And if they’re looking for the peace of mind that comes with referring party indemnification, you’ll both be wanting that “pre” in pre-inspection agreement.

You’ve got aligned incentives, so elicit the real estate agent’s help! For Matthew Steger of WIN Home Inspection in Pennsylvania, reaching out to the agent often solves the problem.

“I rarely ever have issues getting them signed promptly. If I do, I contact the client’s Realtor, who often nudges their client to get it done,” Steger said.

Nick Martin of Firefighter Home Inspections, LLC in Virginia agrees that agents can be an integral part of your get-the-signature team.

“In the event the inspection agreement is not signed before the inspection, I let the buyer’s agent know,” Martin said. “Only one time in eight years have I ever had a client object to the agreement, and the Realtor was not only dismayed but regretted every minute of representing that client.”

9. Or just ask the agent to sign your home inspection contract.

None of our over-200 survey respondents mentioned this, but it’s an option! When an agent assumes limited power of attorney for their clients, they can sign your pre-inspection agreement on their behalf.

Before letting an agent sign for their client, ask if they:

  1. Are authorized to sign.
  2. Have obtained permission to sign from your client.

If they answer “yes” to both those questions, you can allow them to sign your home inspection service agreement. We recommend you ask the agent to write “Authorized Agent” below their signature. Don’t forget to send the signed copy to your client afterward.

Learn more about authorized agents here.

10. Whip out the printer.

Still don’t have a signed inspection contract the night before the inspection? Some of our inspectors recommend printing out a few copies of your agreement so clients can sign them onsite.

“On a rare occasion, we have clients that don’t have email, so we print out two copies of the agreement and have them sign both copies onsite before we inspect the home,” said Tami Hurst of HouseMaster Home Inspections Texas Hill.

Kenneth Rodriguez of Loyalty Home Inspections, LLC in Delaware agrees that having the client sign onsite is a good backup plan.

“Twice in the three years since using DocuSign, I’ve had to print the agreement and wait for the client to show up to the inspection to sign it. I never start the inspection without a signed agreement,” Rodriguez said.

Depending on your software, you may not need to literally print the document to have them sign it in person. Some software products allow clients to sign digitally on a mobile phone or tablet.

The big cons of onsite, day-of signatures are:

  1. Because you can’t start without a signed home inspection contract, you’re stuck waiting for the client. If they’re late, you waste valuable time. If they don’t show, you’ve wasted your time AND you have to reschedule.
  2. You can’t rely on day-of signatures alone. Clients could claim they signed “under duress.” This means you forced them to sign a home inspection contract without giving them enough time to read it.

So remember: Having clients sign your home inspection agreement form onsite is Plan B–NOT Plan A.

11. Charge ‘em!

Here’s the most savage method of encouraging clients to sign your agreement prior to your inspections. It comes from Nicole Comer of Home Gnome Inspections in Oregon, who makes them pay–literally.

“I charge a late cancellation fee if the contract isn’t signed by our start time, and this is clearly expressed in an intro email,” Comer said. “My regular agents occasionally mention my cancellation fee to clients when the process gets started, if they think it may be an issue.”

That’ll make clients think twice about neglecting to sign.

12. Shut it down.

You’ve employed every strategy. You’ve exhausted all your options. Still, no signature. At this point, call it quits, inspectors like Brad McLeese of HomeGuard Inspections in Utah recommend .

“I have learned that getting inspection agreements signed before the inspection can be difficult. Not every buyer is willing to sign an agreement, and not every agent will support the policy I have in place,” McLeese said. “I have a firm policy of not performing an inspection without a signed agreement, which means about one percent of my business is lost due to this policy. Although frustrating, it has become an acceptable outcome.”

Not interested in getting stood up on inspection day? You don’t have to wait to cancel the same day. Inspectors like Bill Forrest of MSRE Home Inspection Services, LLC call it quits two days prior so they have a chance to book other inspections. It respects his time, and the threat of cancellation gives clients one last chance to get it together.

“The email states that the inspection agreement must be signed a minimum of 48 hours prior to the schedule time and date of the inspection. Failure to sign the agreement 48 hours prior to the time and date of the inspection will result in the cancellation of the inspection,” Forrest said. “If for some reason the client doesn’t sign the agreement, the 48 hours allow me time to schedule other activities of the business.”

Close-up of man and woman's hands as man holds a pen to sign a printed home inspection contract.

Don’t risk a delayed or unsigned agreement.

It may seem extreme to cancel. And if you’re struggling to fill your schedule, you may be reluctant to let an inspection slip away. But letting your home inspection agreement form go unsigned–or signed after the inspection starts–isn’t worth the risk.

“Believe me, I’ve been to court. I know how important it is to have a pre-inspection contract signed. It helped me win the case!” said Randy Schweitzer of Onsite Property Inspections in California.

You’ve got the power!

Does getting your pre-inspection agreement signed ahead of time, every time feel like a stressful game of cat and mouse? It doesn’t have to. With these 12 tips, you can take charge and control of your risk management.

Want even more confidence walking into every inspection? Get a copy of our model pre-inspection agreement! They’re unlike other home inspection contracts on the market or one you DIY with an attorney. Our agreements integrate valuable insights we’ve gleaned from over a decade of defending inspectors. We also update our agreements regularly with any new case law, state requirements, or standards of practice (SOP). That means you always have the latest, most effective protection. Learn more and request yours here.

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