Property inspectors play pivotal roles in the mortgage, real estate, construction and insurance industries. Different types of property inspector jobs require different levels of education, licensing and certification. A property inspector job can earn you a livable wage, but the stability of some inspector jobs depends on real estate market factors.
Types of Property Inspectors
The term “property inspector” can refer to numerous jobs. Some property inspectors support real estate transactions, while others ensure buildings under construction follow local building codes. Other types of building inspectors work for insurance companies, performing valuations of properties or determining the validity of an insurance claim. The most common types of building inspectors include appraisers, construction and building inspectors and claims adjusters and inspectors.
Appraiser and Mortgage Field Inspector Jobs
Appraisers inspect houses and other buildings to support real estate sales and mortgage refinances. Appraisers inspect buildings to gather data that they use to create valuation reports, used by real estate agents, mortgage loan officers and banks to set sales prices and process loans.
The data they collect includes measurements of building interiors and property lines, interior and exterior photos, information about comparable property sales and details of building features such as swimming pools, out buildings, landscaping, renewable energy infrastructure and fencing. They also note environmental issues, such as noise from an adjacent commercial zone or pollution from a nearby factory, which might affect the value of the property due to comfort, health or safety concerns.
Typically, appraisers specialize in one type of property such as houses or commercial buildings.
Mortgage field inspectors handle appraisals for banks that hold mortgages on foreclosed properties. They inspect for damage and assess the property’s market value. While they often file less detailed valuation reports than appraiser do, mortgage field inspector training can serve as a stepping-stone toward an appraiser career.
Insurance Claims Adjuster and Inspector Jobs
Insurance claims adjusters and inspectors inspect properties owned or occupied by their policyholders. Typically, claims adjusters and inspectors inspect properties after a policyholder files a claim. For example, if a homeowner files a homeowner’s insurance claim following a fire, the insurance company would send a claims adjuster or inspector to review the damage. They might inspect a property to determine the validity of a claim or to assess the amount of damage. The information they collect plays an important role in determining if damage fits within the coverage terms and the amount of the insurance company’s liability.
Government Building Inspector Jobs
Construction and building inspectors, often called “code inspectors,” inspect buildings to make sure the owners or construction contractors follow municipal building codes. For example, a code inspector might inspect a new home for proper wiring or plumbing.
Building inspectors use a variety of tools such as meters and testing devices to assess aspects such as water pressure, elevation and electrical current. They also document code violations with photographs.
Most local governments hire code inspectors to conduct specific types of inspections. For instance, one code inspector might only inspect a building’s electrical infrastructure, while another might inspect elevators.
Property Inspector Education
Most construction and building inspector jobs require at least a high school diploma. Some employers seek candidates who have earned an associate’s degree or a certificate in a home inspection, construction or building inspection program. Most inspector positions include a period of on-the-job training. Some local and state governments require construction and building inspectors to hold a license.
Most state licensing boards require appraisers to have a bachelor’s degree to obtain a license. Many appraisers have degrees in subjects such as finance, business, economics or real estate. By law, appraisers must have a state license to deal with a transaction to which the federal government is a party.
Most employers seek claims adjuster and inspector candidates who have earned at least a high school diploma. Many employers prefer candidates who have experience in the insurance industry. Some states require licensing or certification, while others have no requirements for claims adjusters and inspectors.
Property Inspector Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction and building inspectors earned a median wage of nearly $60,000 in 2017. The median wage represents the center of an occupation’s pay scale.
During the same year, appraisers took home a median salary of about $54,000, while claims adjusters took home $65,000.
Property Inspector Job Outlook
According to BLS projections, opportunities for claims adjusters should remain at current levels, through 2026.
The BLS expects opportunities for appraisers to increase by about 14 percent during the same period. However, appraiser jobs fluctuate with the real estate and mortgage markets, because appraisers rely on business from property sales and refinances. When interest rates are high, property owners do not refinance and fewer people buy buildings and houses. During economic downturns, the real estate market typically grinds to a halt.
Construction and building inspector jobs should increase by around 10 percent, through 2026.