What You Need to Know Before Becoming a Foreclosed Property Inspector
What Is an REO or Foreclosed Home Inspector?
An REO inspector is the person responsible for inspections on Real Estate Owned property or bank-owned property. The majority of these properties are foreclosed homes.
Other Possible Job Titles
This job gets called many things. I will give you the most common names so that if you are looking for work opportunities you don't miss out.
- Foreclosed Property Inspector
- Mortgage Inspector
- Field Inspector
- Information Carrier
- REO Inspector
Pre-Foreclosure and Interior Inspections
There are usually two types of inspections, pre-foreclosure inspection and interior inspections.
About half of inspections are pre-foreclosure inspections, intended to determine occupancy. Usually mortgage companies have a customer who has been late on payments, hasn't returned phone calls, and hasn't answered letters. So the inspector's job is to go out to the property and determine if someone is still living in the property. If the property is occupied, then a letter must be left on their front door, pictures must be taken of any and all damages to the home, the front of the home, a street view, and proof that you were were in the right place. Most occupied inspections require you to take less than 6 photos, but some companies require as many as 10. If the property is found to be vacant, you then take pictures of all sides of the home. You also determine if the power and water are still on. This can be done by simply checking the home with a volt pen and locating the water meter. On all inspections you must determine if there are any damages to the property.
The second common type of inspection is an interior inspection. These homes have already been foreclosed on. It is the inspector's job to be the eyes for the mortgage company. The common things asked are: Is the property in a high vandalism area? Does the home have any damages? Is there debris on the property? What is the value of the property?
With interior inspections you are also required to take about 40 pictures of the home. Each inspection usually takes 10 minutes to complete if everything goes right.
What Tools Do I Need?
- Camera. Some companies are requiring cameras that have GPS built in now.
- Computer with internet access, ideally a laptop with at least 500 GB of storage
The Positives and Negatives of Being a Foreclosed Home Inspector
I started doing inspections in 2007. I have worked for many companies and now am fortunate enough to own my own small business.
There are a lot of great things about this job. If you like riding around in the car this is the perfect job for you!
The pay is more about getting lots of volume. The pay for each inspection is minimal, but when you are doing hundreds of them a month, it adds up fast.
You also get to learn a lot about the housing market.
My favorite part is the flexibility. While there are the occasional 24 hour rush inspections, most have 4 to 5 days to complete. So long as you don't accept too large of an area then you have a lot of flexibility as to when you work. Because of the nature of this job you will never have to work nights. All inspections must be done during daylight hours.
The downsides to this job are plentiful as well. To put it bluntly, people are NASTY! I've seen EVERYTHING and more! You will walk into some homes that are knee deep in trash. Others have mold everywhere! Some have diapers and used tampons on the floor. There is no line people stop at when it comes to losing their home!!!
Another downside is the occasional squatter in a house. Homeless will often use foreclosed homes as a place to sleep. They are usually not much of a threat, but nothing can scare you more than being almost done with an interior inspection and suddenly hear a cough coming from the closet.
The last downside to me is that sometimes you come up on people who think it's your fault they will be losing their home. They've lost their jobs, their spouse, and their dog, and soon they will lose their house, and finally someone arrives who they can take it out on. I have only had two guns pulled on me and both times things ended well. However I have had plenty of people cuss me out.
I would suggest this career to anyone who loves a job that isn't the typical office 9 to 5. Someone who is tough and can handle the stress and people that come with the work, and someone who can pay attention to detail would do just fine in this line of work!
Do You Think YOU Could Be an REO inspector?
Companies That Hire Foreclosed Property Inspectors
Well there is the somewhat tricky part. The requirements depend on if you are looking to work for a contractor locally or a national contractor.
- Do you have $1 million worth of insurance?
- Do you have workers compensation insurance?
- Do you want to work directly with the big companies or through middlemen?
If you work for a national contractor such as Five Brothers, Safeguard, or A2Z, you will be required to have insurance to get any work.
Foreclosed Mortgage Inspection Companies:
- Five Brothers
- Safe Guard
- Field Asset Services, Inc
- Mortgage Contracting Services
- Cyprexx Services
- National Real Estate Field Services, Inc.
If you want to find a local contractor, most advertise on craigslist for job openings. Most of the time it is listed under general labor jobs.
Feel free to check out the nationals, but remember working for a local contractor means you don't have to deal with the drama from the big companies (and I promise there is A LOT of drama from them). The middlemen take a cut, but they also reduce so much of your work that it may be worth it. Middleman companies likely will give you more options about the area you want to cover also.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.