The leaders in Home Inspection since 1978

The leaders in Home Inspection since 1978

Alan Carson, CEO & Founder of Carson Dunlop

Alan Carson lives home inspections. Since he co-founded Carson Dunlop in 1978, he has focused his professional life on the development of this profession. For the last 43 years, Carson Dunlop has performed hundreds of thousands of home inspections, helped train thousands of inspectors, and provided the reporting system for millions of inspections. Alan has helped grow the profession, taken a leadership role in North American associations, and works with postsecondary institutions and allied professions. 


What was the inspiration and motivation behind finding Carson Dunlop? And what are you trying to accomplish through your work? What was the inspiration and motivation behind Carson Dunlop?

Bob Dunlop and I were working as Fire Protection engineers for a large insurance company in the 1970s and our role was to inspect buildings to ensure they were safe. When Bob bought a house, he and I went through the home, inspecting the systems and components. The real estate agent later asked if we could help other buyers do the same thing, and an idea was born! The concept was simple – help people make an informed decision when purchasing a new home.

As we started to research, we discovered an emerging home inspection profession in the eastern United States. We travelled to Washington, DC, and spent time visiting and riding with inspectors. We came home with an idea to start a business and hung out our shingle in 1978.

The inspiration and motivation came from asking the question, “How do people protect themselves when buying a resale home, and how should people make an informed decision about one of the largest financial and lifestyle investments of their life?” The answer that we kept getting was “caveat emptor” – buyer beware. The need for this seemed obvious, and that need was filled in other parts of the world.


What are we trying to accomplish in our work?

Carson Dunlop’s goal is to provide people with the necessary information to make great decisions when buying and selling a home. We provide a key piece of the puzzle, which is understanding the physical condition of the home. We focus on whether the home and its components were built and installed properly and are performing their intended function. For over 43 years and completing hundreds of thousands of inspections, we have helped many families stay warm, safe, and dry.


What are your thoughts on the Liberal government’s plan, the Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights, and how this will impact the real estate market, especially for first-time homebuyers?

One of the main elements from the Home Buyer’s Bill of Rights that Carson Dunlop is passionate about is, “establishing a legal right to a home inspection to make sure that buyers have the peace of mind that their investment is sound.” It’s positive that the federal government recognizes home inspections are a critical element in the home buying process; however we need specific actions to address this.

A pre-listing inspection should be required before any home is offered for sale. We are seeing many cases across Ontario where prospective buyers are only allowed 30 minutes in a home before submitting an offer. It’s not fair that a person would not have a chance to understand what they are buying before committing to the largest investment of their life. At Carson Dunlop, we cannot understand why anyone would be put in a position where they spend more time buying shoes than buying a home. 


Why home inspections have become rarer in today’s heated market – and what this means for buyers and sellers?

Home inspections have become rarer in today’s real estate-heated market because of the competition for a limited supply of homes, which has resulted in bidding wars. There are many more buyers than sellers, which has led sellers and their real estate agents to be selective about what offers they entertain. Buyers are being told they can have no conditions for home inspections or financing if they expect their offer to be considered.

Homebuyers are making outrageous financial commitments without the basic information they need to make an informed decision. The situation is aggravated by the fact that many people put all their funds (and often their parent’s funds) into a down payment and have no money available for unforeseen expenses that could arise once they move in. The situation is completely unfair to buyers who are being expected to buy blind. There are several ways to level the playing field without harming either party.

Sellers are often comfortable with bidding wars and many are selling their homes for more money than they ever expected; however, when sellers purchase another home, they quickly find themselves at a significant disadvantage in their role as a homebuyer.


How can the home inspection save both buyers and sellers thousands of dollars during the transaction process, helping to eliminate any unnecessary costs?

A professional home inspection provides a clear picture of the physical condition of a home, allowing buyers to decide wisely and reducing the liability for sellers. The home inspection also serves as a course in homeownership, helping buyers understand their home and how to maintain it, making sure it is safe, comfortable, dry, and performing efficiently. 

Unforeseen costs are one of the greatest challenges of homeownership and there is no worse time to face these costs than during the first year in a new home. Sellers who perform a pre-listing inspection can position the home ideally for sale, address any small issues, maximize price, minimize time on the market, and avoid any potential liability from home-buyers coming back to them.


What is your key advice to buyers and sellers during this challenging time? 

Our home is the most important purchase most of us will ever make, from a financial and lifestyle perspective. Basic table stakes should have all parties understand the condition of the property to allow for a fair and transparent transaction. A home inspection is one critical element of the process. Canadian homeowners deserve no less.

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