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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a visual inspection performed by a trained professional to determine the condition of a home’s main elements. The inspection usually takes several hours, during which the professional takes multiple photos and notes, tracking information for a final report. After the inspection, the pro will create a printed report, complete with photos and detailed information, summarizing the condition of the house. A home inspection is often used by potential home buyers prior to purchase to determine if there are larger issues (such as dry rot or a faulty foundation) that are not immediately visible to the untrained eye but that would cost a lot of money to resolve. Home inspections are also used by real estate agents and home sellers to address any concerns before putting a home on the market. Longtime homeowners can also schedule a home inspection to get a snapshot of their current home condition and identify any issues that need to be addressed. A home inspection is not a legal document that can be used for divorce or estate settlements, nor can it be used to secure loans or mortgages.

What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a house cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The best way to set up a consultation with a house cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic is by using virtual, online tools. Start by performing an online search for local house cleaners. Message them to set up either a phone call or video call to perform a consultation. During this call, they can give you recommendations and may be able to estimate the cost of their services. Be sure to discuss whether they accept virtual payments and any precautions they can take to perform the job safely.

What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a property manager during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Ask the property manager if they can set up a virtual consultation or remote appointment using a phone or video chat. It’s best to avoid as much in-person contact as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. If they can talk virtually, ask any questions you have about the work that needs to be done. Ask about their system for handling payments, and see what kinds of precautions they have in place to ensure safety and social distancing. 

Are there ways to be safe if I hire a property manager when social distancing?

If you're hiring a property manager to look after a property that you own, consider the safety implications of in-person visits. Due to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, it may be difficult for the property manager to collect rent in person or complete certain maintenance tasks. Check with your local government guidelines and consider implementing extra safety measures -- such as wearing a mask and gloves -- if you have to meet with them in person.

Is it worth having a property manager?

While property managers do cost money, they can provide a lot of value to the client. They have marketing know-how and can advertise and perform showings of your property to the rental market. They can collect rent for you and screen potential tenants. They’ll also deal with tenant complaints and repairs, evictions and late rent. Finally, they can manage bill payments to simplify your paperwork and maximize your mental bandwidth.

Chat with top-rated property managers near you to find out if hiring one is worth the cost.

How do you find a good home inspector?

A home inspection should tell you the true condition of a home. A competent home inspector closely inspects your home’s structure and foundation, looks for termites and signs of problems like mold, checks the wiring to ensure it’s in good condition, and investigates the HVAC system, among other items. To find a good home inspector, first research whether home inspection is licensed in your area; not all states require licensure.

If there is no regulatory body that licenses home inspection in your state, there are other ways to make sure you are hiring a trustworthy professional. Carefully look into the person’s reviews and ask for references. Ask if they are committed to continuing education, and whether they are active members in any reputable home inspector organizations. Some organizations that recognize and/or certify home inspectors are the American Society of Home Inspectors, National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and American Home Inspectors Training. Don’t be shy about asking to see credentials and licensing.

How do I find a good property manager?

You can find the best property manager in your area by starting with an online search. Compare profiles and ratings, and read customer reviews — these tend to give a snapshot of the manager’s quality of work and customer service. Additionally, customers may post photos of their properties that give an idea of the pro’s attention to detail.

Licensing is required in some states, so check to see your state’s policies on licenses and certification.

Finally, compare quotes and prices from at least three property managers.

How can I find out if a house cleaner is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider?

A house cleaner is generally not considered an essential service sector during the coronavirus pandemic. To find out which services are considered essential, visit your city and state government, and read their guidelines. A national list of essential service providers can be found on CISA’s Identifying Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19 site. This webpage lists 16 different infrastructure sectors considered to be essential. However, not all jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure.

Reviews for Ashburn apartment professionals
Cindy F.
I would highly recommend Deborah Maid Services. We reached out to them on a very tight timeline and they were very responsive, professional and thorough. We were cleaning out of an apartment and they went above and beyond by taking our garbage and items for the Salvation Army too. They basically transformed the apartment and we were thrilled. Will definitely use their services again! Thank you!!!
Deborah Maid Services LLCDeborah Maid Services LLC
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