Thermal Imaging Houses for Real Estate Agents

Question for reader…

“I see a barrier, at least in my area, to imaging houses for the real estate industry. The real estate companies do not want to list dwellings as anything less than perfect, or passing because of the fear it will be detrimental to the sale. As we all know, perfection is unattainable and the passing grade is rather arbitrary in the mind of the real estate agent. I am working on a sort of grading system for dwellings, say A through D, that can take into account the existing conditions of all forms of dwellings.

The intent is to establish a kind of efficiency grade that can be posted on a structure to give the purchaser, the real estate agent and the seller some measurable idea of what kind of investment will be necessary to bring the dwelling up to the standard required to the buyer. This kind of firm measurable estimate should be repeatable so I have to remove objections based on the measurement being arbitrary.”

So here’s the question, “Has there been any previous work in the direction of establishing a repeatable, efficiency estimation for an audit, to use on building ? I would not want to reinvent the wheel on this, so I ask what has been done before. I fully expect there are people who retrofit dwellings, that would take a sub-standard building and improve it to make money on the turn around. I would like to make money with them.” What’s your thoughts on that, Peter?

Peter:   I think that you were very correct when you said you were going to have a long winded question – hopefully I can address it here. Now I’m assuming that when the question talks about efficiencies that we’re talking about the building envelope for insulation – I heard you say they want to create a grading system. You know, anybody on this call can download the Resnet standards. They have established grade levels one, two, three, etc, as far as the level of deficiencies.

Now I guess, you know, my part that I would tell all the listeners on this call, I’m not a person who believes in incorporating initially infrared into the real estate transaction, but rather as a problem solver – that’s the way I view it. As far as a home being perfect, I am a building inspector by trade – people don’t ask me, and the real estate agent specifically doesn’t ask, “Hey can you do an energy evaluation of this home?” This question is pretty correct in that they don’t want to see anything negative on a report. But you know, I’m not sure this question is – I mean I want to make sure that everybody’s kind of guided in the right direction, that you’ve got to decide what you want to do with your business, and I believe that there’s an opportunity for efficiency.

But I don’t know that I would necessarily want to go out and grade homes that are on the real estate market because, like he mentioned in the beginning of his question, that people are going to probably not want to hear it. Whereas once somebody has had a chance to get their first utility bill and they’re upset, that’s where the solution comes in. So I’m a believer that when I go out and evaluate properties, I educate them and advise them about the options that will be available to them later.

When they move in and they find hey, there’s some draughts in this house, it just seems cold in this one room – and that’s where thermal imaging can solve it. And of course at that time when I tell them about it, if they choose to have us come in and that’s the case, but as far as using it as a selling point, I guess that would be a pretty confident seller, to hire somebody for that. So it might be a tough market to go after.

Dean:    Yeah, I know where I am down under in the Australia and New Zealand markets – where I do a lot of thermal imaging we have what’s called “the leaky home problem” – it’s in Canada and New Zealand in particular. Now, buyers actually want to see reports, thermal imaging leak and moisture detection reports, it’s actually becoming common knowledge in the marketplace to do thermal imaging when buying a home. It’s not on the energy side, it’s more testing whether there’s any moisture behind the walls, or whether the property is leaking.

Now that’s the majority of my market and I do about eight or nine inspections a week in the real estate market, so obviously it’s different in certain parts of the world, but for those of you listening I’ll let you know that some real estate agents, when they can’t sell a property when it’s stuck on the market for at least a week or so, they are now advising the seller … “hey why don’t you get a test done and a report to show that it is not leaking or there’s no moisture behind the wall”, and I do that with moisture testing equipment – a moisture metre, and the thermal imaging camera.

That’s just one angle I’ve touched on that in the thermal imaging quick start guide which a lot of you know about.

Peter:   Yeah, let me just further extend on your part – –

Dean:   Yep.

Peter:   The moisture part is, you know a different scenario, obviously everybody wants to know the answer on moisture, but once again it’s always a situation where, you know, the conditions have to present themselves because due to evaporative cooling areas will appear dry on a surface, whereas the moisture metre and other tools will be necessary. But we do find a large percentage of business opportunities with – in the real estate transaction on moisture, and by far it’s actually in my personal business, the largest source of my money making is on chasing water.

Dean: Yeah, yeah, and exactly the same on my side of the fence too. Like Peter said, leak detection is where the majority of his cash flow comes from, it’s the same for me. Consider looking for water leaks as a part of your IR business!

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