Julian PilarskiBy Julian Pilarski

It’s nice when the process of buying or selling property goes smoothly. In fact, it’s a luxury. Even at the best of times the waters can get a little choppy. When the unexpected occurs, clients want someone with the experience and support to calmly arm them with the knowledge and reassurance they need to weather the storm.

As a Realtor, I have developed a keen eye for the various deficiencies, pitfalls and even blatant defects of some properties. Yes, more often than not, buyers and sellers have their homes inspected by qualified inspectors during the sale or purchase process. But shouldn’t the individual brokering one of the most expensive transactions of our clients’ lives be able to bring some fundamental information about the home to their attention?

Here are some of the tools that I use on my routine inspections with clients:

Receptacle/GFIC tester: This is a fantastic way to help give an overall scope of a home’s electrical systems. The device is a simple tool that essentially accomplishes three tasks – it confirms a plug’s grounding, verifies the proper wiring of a circuit wiring (correct, reverse, incorrect) and tests the proper function of a ground fault interrupter circuit. Plugging this device into any receptacle will help identify any electrical related issues commonly found in any home. A simple check will help establish the need to investigate further, and offer insight into the overall health of the electrical systems.

My favourite use is illustrating to a client that just because a brand “new” electrical receptacle/outlet has been installed, it does not always indicate that the electrical system has been updated or is even safe.

Voltage detector: The “magic electrical wand” as I often refer to it; the voltage detector is a simple device that detects any voltage without direct contact to an exposed wire. The device allows you to safely detect if a wire is live.

My favourite use for it is exposing the truth about active “knob-and-tube” wiring. Most of the original homes in Toronto were built with this now out-of-date wiring. It is an expensive and laborious task to retrofit an existing home with new standardized wiring. As a result, often claims are made that this primitive wiring has been “updated” or is no longer in use. With a quick wave of the wand, I can detect an active line in seconds – it’s safe, easy and effective.

Digital moisture meter: Damp basement? Rotting bathroom tiles? Funky smell? There are hundreds of practical applications for a digital moisture meter. A simple probe can help indicate areas of elevated moisture in homes. Whether it is suspect area in a basement, a questionable area around the tub or a patch on the ceiling, the moisture meter will aid in identifying a potential problem where moisture could pose a concern.

My favourite use for this tool is showing my clients that the “newly finished” basement might be nothing more than a cover-up for a damp basement.

Digital infrared thermometer: If it sounds impressive, it’s because it is. This tool is one of my favourites. Beam the infrared sensor at any object and in seconds a digital temperature will appear. This tool is critical in helping establish levels of insulation (or lack thereof), a leaking window or doorway, the proper functioning of heating and cooling systems, and in some cases discovering gaping holes in foundations.

My favourite use is helping illustrate to clients the importance of insulation materials and in some instances to raise questions about that “newly insulated” home.

These are just some of the tools that I find myself using on routine inspections with clients. These tools along with the application of common sense, knowledge and experience help assure that my clients are well equipped with what they need to make an educated decision.

What’s in your tool box?

Julian Pilarski is a sales rep with Royal LePage in Toronto. He has established himself as a top performer (Top five per cent in Canada). Pilarski says he has built this early success on two basic business principles: honesty and integrity. He focuses primarily on the West End Toronto market where he was born and raised. http://julianpilarski.com


  1. 5 things all together

    The receptacle tester is one

    But the most valuable tool which can’t be beaten is chapstick.

  2. This is so useful! Being a new agent, I am able to set myself apart from others and demonstrate my knowledge of the home components before the inspection, while strengthening the client’s reassurance and faith in my work.

  3. Wow. Did you say “tool box” or toy box. Have you ever read the buyer agency agreement ?
    “The Brokerage and representatives of the Brokerage are trained in dealing in real estate but are not qualified in determining the physical condition of the land or any improvements thereon.”
    Well intentioned I am sure. Flashy uh huh. Maybe buyers will even think they don’t need a home inspection after the “check up. ” Yikes! The kind of stuff that would give me nightmares when I had salesreps 25 years ago. I know its to promote further investigation but a little knowledge can be dangerous. Leave it to the pros. Reminds me of one home inspector who told my buyer when they could remove conditions. He got told by me what is job wasn’t. Let’s keep out of each other’s area’s of expertise.

    • Hi Lou:

      Your and Ed Mercer’s concerns are well founded, but, in defence of Julian, he is simply employing meters etc. that can be purchased and used by anyone. He is not giving a carte blanche assessment of the property or the individual components therein. He is simply letting his clients view what the meters are displaying in conjunction with an explanation regarding what the display information means. Knowledge is power when properly administered, and I feel sure that Julian administers same properly. I believe that what you and Ed are referring to is the know-it-all Realtor who goes on and on about the systems within a property in order to convince a client to put in an offer on same. This is indeed a slippery slope to attempt to slide down on.

  4. It is great that you can perform all those tasks, Julian. Are you going to give your buyers a written report, so they can make one the biggest decision of their lives and then afterwards take all the resposibilty of any Errors and Ommissions? If not, then you should stick to what, you think, you can do best and that is selling Houses.

  5. Bravo Julian!

    Your attention to detail and your willingness to stick your neck out, to go the extra mile to help clients understand the critical areas of a home’s mechanical/electrical/building envelope systems, is admirable. Only those Realtors with an inherent sense of what honesty and integrity mean to a client’s interests would think of implementing the procedures that you implement.

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