Five questions with Hank Lobdell, home inspector
SOUTH TAMPA - Today we chat with Hank Lobdell, owner of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections in Tampa. A former regional vice president for Winn Residential, he lived in the area as a student at St. Leo University before moving to Chicago; Raleigh, N.C.; and elsewhere that his real estate career took him. Lobdell returned in October and brought a new franchise with him: A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. He now does home inspections for Realtors and property owners throughout Tampa. With a background that includes both doing home inspections and selling real estate, Lobdell explains why he saw Tampa as a good place to do business.
Q: Why did you choose A Buyer’s Choice as a franchise?
Answer: Being in real estate for the last 20-plus years, and as a regional manager with Winn Residential for 15 years, a lot of my work was inspecting properties -- especially with the Section 8 housing and tax credits. I was constantly working with them to get ready for HUD inspections and dealing with the governments throughout their inspections. So when I was looking at opportunities to start a business of my own, I heard about it through a franchise show in Orlando. I met with the regional owner in Orlando, looked at it, went through all the numbers and realized it was a great opportunity.
Q: Why did you feel there was such an opportunity for you in South Tampa?
Answer: Well, in all of Tampa, the market is coming back. The Realtors I’ve been working with are fighting multiple bids. The opportunity for me is perfect. I’m coming in and working with the Realtors and doing inspections for them. I’m also working with Realtors on pre-sale inspections.
Q: What are some of the most common things you see in South Tampa homes?
In South Tampa I’m dealing with older homes and homes that have been rehabbed. You might come across some old breaker panel boxes that you have to have replaced. You also have a lot of people that did their own handyman work. Other issues? Mold. You do find termites. Of course ACs (air-conditioners) depending on how old they are. But ACs are so important to people that most people keep up with them.
Q: What are some of the strangest things you’ve seen during home inspections throughout your career?
Answer: It’s always funny when you see the toilet is not flushing right and you see someone took a clothes hanger and tried to wire it that way. The handyman specials, where people just lay things across the attic. You wonder how some of the animals got into the home -- raccoons and squirrels in the attic.
Q: What is your favorite baseball team?
Answer: The Tampa Bay Rays. I grew up as an Orioles fan, but I was down here during the first season of the Rays. I still have three inaugural balls on my desk.