Why Do Property Inspectors Assign Properties Scores?

property inspectionA property inspection is not a pass/fail scenario.  While the results of an inspection – especially if a property comes out badly – can have a profound effect on how the property is valued for sale or rental, there’s no particular numerical score or combination of checkboxes that marks a property as “too far gone: demolish immediately”.  A property inspector’s report is much more a series of observations that can help the property manager and/or buyer decide how much the property is worth and how much money should be put into repairing damaged parts.  Since these observations are much more useful to a property owner than an overall numerical score, why do so many property inspectors assign a score at all?

It gives the property manager an overall picture

Especially in an older property that has undergone a lot of maintenance over the years, it is not at all unusual for there to be many minor problems, from chipped paint and scratched floors to damaged fixtures.  Seeing all of these problems listed on a report can be overwhelming, and can make the property look like it’s in a much worse state than it actually is.  Next to a numerical score, it becomes much clearer to the property owner that the problems are minor and probably inexpensive to fix.  Conversely, one major structural defect can bring the value of a property down a lot: if a property has only one or two listed problems but a low overall score, it makes it clear that those problems are serious and need immediate attention.

It helps the owner/buyer decide on the next step

Even though there’s no assigned score that means a property must be immediately razed to the ground, general score ranges offer a good indication of what the next step is for a property.  A very low score, especially one caused by serious structural problems, might mean that a property should be demolished and rebuilt, and will definitely affect the sale value because of how much work a buyer will have to put in.  On the other hand, a property with a very high score might be more likely to be sold as is, since the money the owner would put into minor fixes probably wouldn’t raise the value very much.  How high or low a property scores can help the owner and buyer to decide who should invest the money for repairs, and to adjust the sale price accordingly.

It keeps the property inspector’s reports consistent

Numerical scores are also useful to the property inspector: they allow an inspector to keep a running assessment of how properties compare to one another.  This can be useful for training new team members, for ensuring that inspection standards remain consistent and even for identifying any personal biases an inspector might have that s/he wants to correct.  If two houses with similar reports receive vastly different scores, that is a pretty good indication to a property inspector that s/he is not applying standards consistently, which presents an opportunity to improve those standards for better inspections in the future.

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