Many real estate agents don't attend their buyer's home inspection because someone has told them that this increases their liability. I completely disagree. It's their conduct at the inspection that puts them at risk, not their presence. About 75% of the agents that I regularly work with attend at least part of the inspection, and almost all of my clients attend the entire inspection. I've identified several different types of agents throughout the years, and I''m going to give my two cents as to whether they should attend or not.
The Annoyed Agent
These agents act like they're doing their client a favor by selling them a house, and they're obviously annoyed with their client. They moan and sigh every time I talk about something that needs attention. They always want to write up an addendum to the purchase agreement and have the client sign it while we're still at the property, before they've even seen my report. Stay home.
These agents have a background in construction or they know a lot about houses, and they want to make sure everyone knows it. Sometimes they do more talking than I do at the inspection, and they'll often downplay or disagree with items that I say need attention. These agents give bad information, they seem to be working on their own agenda, and they're exposing themselves to a lot of liability. Stay home.
These are the agents that don't know me, and they're scared as heck because I'm not their 'usual inspector'. They're afraid that I'm going to say something that will blow the deal, they look over my shoulder the whole time, and they try to question everything I say unless it's positive. These agents clearly have their own agenda in mind, and they act bitter because the client picked me. Stay home.
The Other Inspector
This agent attends the home inspection and tries to point out anything the home inspector might have missed, and tries to be a second set of eyes. This agent has good intentions, but if a home inspector needs this help to produce a solid inspection it might be time to find another home inspector. While these agents have their client's needs in mind, they could be giving their client the idea that they're just as qualified to inspect the home. An attorney might tell these agents to stay home - see the note at the bottom of this blog.
These agents may have never attended a home inspection, and they haven't sold a lot of houses. They learn a ton about the inspection process, and they use this information to help their current client and their future clients. These agents should definitely be there to learn. Come along.
The Moral Support
These agents show up at the inspection because they're working with first time home buyers that need their hand held throughout the entire process. They introduce me to the client, and they tag along for the whole inspection to provide moral support. They don't get in the way, and their clients usually appreciate them being there. These agents have their client's needs in mind. Come along.
The Inspectors Assistant
These agents attend the entire inspection, and they often ask more questions than the client does. They offer to adjust the thermostat, they go back inside while we're inspecting the outside to make sure a fan is turned on, and some have even been on the roof with me (I know I'm going to get crap for this one!). These agents have their client's needs in mind. Come along.
These agents show up because they feel it's their due diligence. They don't tag along with me much, but they want to know about any big issues that come up, and they usually want to understand the issues and see them firsthand. These agents have their client's needs in mind. Come along.
The first three types of agents that I talked about are the type that either have been sued or should be sued. They're doing a disservice to their clients by attending the inspection, and they don't have any business being there. I don't work with a lot of these agents, because they don't refer me. Most of the agents that I work with truly have their client's best interest in mind, and I see no reason for them to be afraid to attend the inspection. Maybe I'm too much of an optimist, but I've never subscribed to the phrase "No good deed goes unpunished".
PS - About the "Other Inspector" - I read an article about this agent at the NAR web site, thank you Laura Parris for finding it for me! I think this article might be one of the largest factors in agents not wanting to attend home inspections. My interpretation of this article is "Rotten client does a rotten thing to real estate agent." The whole premise of this tale is despicable. I followed up with the author of the article because the article never tells how the story ended. I asked if the agent had to pay for the repairs, and the author said "The insurance company paid".
Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections