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Sherlock "Homes" Solve the case of "The Mystery House" for buyers.

By Todd D. Maddocks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Imagine the shock of purchasing a home and, one month later,learning the roof is about to collapse. This happened to one of myassociate's clients. The home was a foreclosure, and theclient, eager to "steal" the property on what appeared tobe favorable terms, signed a series of releases and closed withoutinspecting the attic. Had he done so, he would have noticed thatalmost all the timbers in the roof were rotten after years of slowleaks. Now our client has a home of lesser value and perhaps anunpromising legal action. If only he had been more careful.

Pillar toPost Inc., a franchisor of professional home-inspectionservices, targets home buyers who want to avoid just suchsituations. Franchisees, armed with a proprietary computer program,review a home and give the home buyer the information he or sheneeds to make an informed decision.

With about 186 locations in the United States and 89 in Canada,this system has blossomed since its inception in 1994, when Pillarto Post was started by chairperson Michael Brewer and presidentWilliam Norris. The pair created a unique business model thatemphasizes marketing to real estate and banking professionalsrather than consumer-driven marketing. Using a contact-managerprogram, the franchisees develop rapports that lead toreferrals.

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