Across the country every day, mortgage banks and lenders rely on property preservation inspectors to be the guardians of their assets. They are the eyes and ears of the asset portfolio managers who look for vulnerabilities (hopefully before they happen) and request remediation. The challenge is very few of the inspectors "get it." Most are independent workers, trying to make a few extra dollars, and not really vested in the outcome of inspections; transient workers looking to make a dime — or $6 as the case may be.

The industry is largely to blame. In the mid-1980s, an inspector was given $7 to inspect a home. In a failing neighborhood of closely packed homes, an inspector could handle 30 to 40 homes in a day, which yielded a living wage. But when the mortgage industry was robust and inspections were sparse, the lenders beat the rates down. Now, in 2010, the going rate is $6 (middlemen have raised their rates, but they continue to lowball the inspectors). With gas at $3 a gallon it is near impossible for an inspector to make a decent living — without cutting corners.

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