Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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Should The Seller Attend The Home Inspection?

 

I’ve written about buyers attending the home inspection, and I’ve written about buyer’s agents attending the home inspection.  I’ve never written about home sellers attending the home inspection because I thought this was a no-brainer... but I received a lot of comments on a member-only post last week that made me realize that many real estate agents don't agree with me.

When the buyers aren't there, great.

If the buyers aren’t going to attend the inspection, I have no problem with the seller being home for the inspection.  In fact, sometimes it’s actually nice because I have someone to talk to, instead of just talking to myself.  I can ask the seller about mysterious stains, I can ask why they installed something this way when it’s usually done that way… come to think of it, when it’s just me and the seller present, I ask a ton of questions.  I get to know the sellers a little, and I often get a call from them later when they’re ready to have their next house inspected.  I’m all for it.

But when the buyer attends...

On the other hand, if the buyers are going to attend the inspection, which is what happens with the majority of my business, I would much prefer that the seller take off.

On the rare occasions when the seller is present, it can sometimes make for an uncomfortable inspection.  It’s tough for a seller to have some stranger walking through their house pointing out defects.  Many sellers get angry or defensive, and oftentimes can’t help themselves from butting in with defensive comments or challenging me.  I stand behind my recommendations and opinions, but it’s a huge waste of my client’s time if I have to spend half the inspection justifying my words and actions to a seller.

I typically show up to inspections about fifteen to twenty minutes early, often before the seller has left yet.  If I get the impression that the seller isn’t planning on leaving, I’ll usually ask a few pointed questions.  "So, are you planning on sticking around for this inspection?” If the answer is yes, I’ll say “Ok… did you know the buyers are coming too?”  At this point, the seller typically gets a shocked look and says they had no idea that the buyers would be coming, and they rush to get out of the house.

On the rare occasion that the seller plans on staying, I feel out the situation.  If the seller says they’ll leave me and my clients alone, great.  If the seller answers the door with a scowl and tells me they’re not going anywhere, I politely tell them that I respect the fact that it’s their house and they can do what they want, but I would prefer they leave.  If they still don’t want to, that’s their business, but most buyers are very uncomfortable with the seller being home for the inspection.  The sellers should be gone during the home inspection for all the same reasons that sellers are gone for any showings.

The most common reason I’ve heard for people that do want the sellers present is so that they can answer any questions that the home inspector has about the house.  I have a very simple solution: have the sellers leave a phone number.  Done and done.

Note To Home Inspector


 

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

218 commentsReuben Saltzman • September 28 2010 06:12AM

Comments

Good morning Reuben!!  I always suggest to people thinking about selling their home to get an inspection before listing the property so they know what might needs to be fixed beforehand and can avoid delays in the sales process.

Posted by Kelly Milligan (First Title Real Estate, LLC) almost 4 years ago

I agree.  Once the seller was wanting to tag all over the house and after the first comment I had to politely ask him to leave us unfettered during the inspection.  The inspection is the buyer's time to see the house again, see what's up inspection wise and take some pictures or measurements.  Sellers can get in the way of all of that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Great post Reuben and very well presented..............such a simple solution............leave a number.

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) almost 4 years ago

I'm stumped!

Where are the agents??????

Seems to me that if the seller is going to be present, the listing agent should be too. 

Clearly, if the buyer is going to be present (and they should), their agent should be too.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

Kelly - good morning!  I agree, pre-sale inspections are a great way to know all about the house... provided you hire a good inspector :)

Jay - exactly.  Some sellers have a tendency of hijacking the inspection.

Roger - believe it or not, I've actually never had it happen to me. 

Lenn - I've only had one listing agent attend the inspection, ever.  I have no opinion on that one - I don't care either way.  As for the buyers agent, it happens about half the time for me.  Many agents truly believe that they're increasing their liability by attending the inspection, thanks to an article published in the REALTOR magazine eight years ago - http://www.realtor.org/archives/lawyoufeb02?presentationtemplate=rmo-design/pt_articlepage_migratedcontent_print&presentationtemplateid=06ad608049e7ba93ab3dab87f8d337ee

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Hi Reuben,

I think it is helpful if the Seller is home to greet the home inspector and to answer questions that the home inspector may have that are unique to the house such as how to gain access to particular areas etc.  If the seller cannot be there then usually the listing agent will be available.

Once the home inspector has no further questions then the seller should leave.  It is very difficult to ask questions of the home inspector while the Seller is there.  I agree with your suggestion, leave a number and or have the listing agent follow up with the Seller after the inspection is over.

Posted by Laurie C. Bailey-Gates, ABR, SFR (Bean Group) almost 4 years ago

Laurie - I have no problem with that approach.  I always ask the sellers if there's anything special I need to know about their house, and I often offer to call them when I get done with the inspection so they can get back on with their lives.  I know I would appreciate that if I were the seller.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Reuben...it is a no-no for the Seller to attend the home inspection!  This is the buyer's opportunity to have an ubiased and professional review of their home.  I tell my sellers they will not attend the home inspection & I the phone number on questions as well as being able to review the inspection report is sufficient for them.  Alot of listing agents never do anything but sit at the kitchen table when the inspection is going on for fear of liability issues.  I do poke after the inspector with the buyer's agent & clients so I can explain in detail a problem & it's always been appreciated by the buying side...wonderful post.

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (Phillips Post Road Realty ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

Hi Ginny, thanks!  It sounds like your approach works well too.  

This is the buyer's opportunity to have an ubiased and professional review of their home.  

Exactly.  The seller shouldn't be taking up this time.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

I was at an inspection when the sellers would NOT leave.  They thought their agent should be there too.  I guess maybe she should have been because she could have called them off when the home inspector was up in the attic (just a crawl space) and the seller started yelling that the home inspector get down from there.  

I am Re-Blogging you for consumers in my market.  

I have been at a few other home inspections where the seller stayed.  I don't think it is a good idea.   The home inspector then asks the home owners what is going on with "_______." I think they cheat the buyer out of a thorough home inspection.  They take on liability they should not.   I think there is always an "Ah ha moment" when the seller is there over what the home inspector found that they were worried about... In a few cases then "Why isn't that _____ on the property disclosure?" becomes an issue.  There may be legit reasons for it but in the DRAMA they have created it just comes off bad IMHO 

 

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 4 years ago

I couldn't disagree more! Actually, I prefer that all parties attend, if possible, unless one party appears to be difficult. That way the buyer can ask the seller questions about workings of the home, etc. Plus, all parties are there to hear the home inspector's issues. If one of the parties, or the other agent are not present, an issue could be blown way out of proportion, which could lead to extravagant costs which the seller may not be willing to pay. I've had this happen before by poor home inspectors making an issue out of something very minor - like caulking! I once had a buyer make a big issue out of some light rust on the lintels above the windows due to the home inspector saying it was a maintenance issue that needed to be taken care of. Cost = $1,600 out of our commission to save the deal! I always try to attend the home inspections so that when the party that ordered it gets the report, I can explain what the inspector was talking about. I know that it generally takes about 3 hours of our time, but can save a deal from being blown by an inspector that doesn't know how to convey what he sees properly. By being in attendance, we are not taking away anything from the buyer, but insuring issues are truly issues, and we can answer any questions they might have. I can't tell you how many times it has helped by me attending the inspection! I guess things are a bit different here in the South where we want the buyer and seller to get to know each other to answer any questions about the property. 

Posted by Alan Kent, Lake Oconee Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty Lake Oconee ) almost 4 years ago

Reuben, Simple but good idea leaving the phone number - and ask ask/remind the owner to be available to answer.  I recently had an inspection where we couldn't get the garage door open & no key/opener was in sight.  A quick call to the owner should have saved us from having to come back at a future date... but the seller didn't pick up the cell call....

Posted by Dave Miller, RE/MAX Real Estate Dumont,NJ - Bergen County, New Jersey Homes for Sale (RE/MAX Integrity, Dumont, NJ 201-385-8100) almost 4 years ago

I always said I'd prefer that the seller not be present. Until I sold my own house. I was the listing agent, but it gave me some empathy for sellers. If they are present they should be out of the way. 

Posted by J. Philip Faranda, Broker-Owner (J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY) almost 4 years ago

Maureen - ha!  Funny story about the sellers yelling at the home inspector to get out of their attic.  All great points you bring up, thanks.

Alan - it sounds like you're trying to do the home inspector's job.  As a home inspector, it's MY JOB to 'explain what I'm talking about'.   For a home inspector, proper communication is just as important as proper knowledge.  Most of your points seem to focus on you attending the home inspection, not the seller. 

If you want the buyer and seller to meet each other, I have no problem with that, but during the home inspection is the wrong time for this.

Thank you for chiming in with an opposing viewpoint.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Dave - good point.  I actually just had that happen to me yesterday. Thankfully the buyer's agent was able to get in touch with the listing agent, who told us where the garage key was hidden.

J. Philip - ditto.  I just had my own house inspected about two weeks ago, and I was just dying to be there to hear what the inspector had to say about my own house.  I never did find out, and I'm still curious.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Sellers need to leave and when they don't it is usually a stress builder. I had one of these a few weeks ago. Seller was a really difficult gentleman.  It was like twisting arms to get him to sign the cancellation after the deal went bad as a result of the inspection

Posted by Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, Personal Service, always. (Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC) almost 4 years ago

As the buyer agent I always encourage the buyer to attend the inspection.  In fact, I don't think I've had a case where the buyer didn't.  I'll show up about 15 minutes early (seems like all inspectors do that) so I can meet the inspector and point out a few of things we noticed during our showings that were important to my client.  Once the buyer shows up I'll introduce them to the inspector, leave a number where I can be reached and ask the buyer to contact me when they're finished.

On the listing side I don't attend and I encourage the seller not to stick around.  The buyer hired the inspector and is paying for their opinion.  They should be able to hear that opinion without the inspector having to sugar coat it.

Posted by Brad Chubbs, Serving military members, first-time buyers, and h (RE/MAX Pembroke Realty Ltd.) almost 4 years ago

You won't get an opposing view from me :) I found that article that you put in the link for a bit ridiculous. Obviously that agent over stepped her bounds, whether she was well meaning or not. Nothing drives me crazier or gets my blood pressure up quicker than an agent trying to play inspector. Many agents know when to speak and are good at working with me. I am a firm believer in the team concept and that the agent and inspector should;

  1. Be working together for the client and
  2. Respect each others territories.
Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Phil wrote "If they are present they should be out of the way "  I'd add heavily sedated and  gagged... It is torture.  My next door neighbor sold, I was the listing agent. The buyer was going to be present but the home inspector ooops  buyers agent  could not be so I was.  That was hard for me.  I was defensive.  It was important for me to be there but I would never, ever think the seller should be. 

Too much stress!

I am not sure a phone number for some sellers would be a good idea in all cases either. If the home inspector is going to call and say "tell me where the switch for the Jacuzzi is" that is one thing. If they are calling to ask for details of how the hillside home is engineered, how the basement was waterproofed, I don't believe they should answer necessarily.  I think the inspector needs to inspect for their client.  The seller has had an opportunity to describe defects for buyers.  The buyer is engaging the services of a professional to visually inspect, not get the story from the seller.  In our market  I think there is usually documentation available that provides that detail starting with the property disclosure....  

and my companies policy requires me to be gagged if I attend a home inspection as the buyers agent.  Actually they do not want us there.  I go with the gag.

 

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) almost 4 years ago

Rueben,

It makes good sense for the seller's agent to be there, if they are concerned and anxious. That way, the agent doesn't take the identification of defects personally.

Brian

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) almost 4 years ago

Rueben:

Most often the best case is that the sellers not be present while their home inspection is going on. But I recently had a seller who did attend some of the inspection and for every problem that cropped up he immediately said, "I will take care of that" and got on the phone to the appropriate contractors and systems repair people and had some of them there before the end of the inspection.  The rest were scheduled to come in the next day.

This type of seller being there - I will take any time.

 

Posted by Claudette Millette, Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass (The Buyers' Counsel) almost 4 years ago

Hi Reuben. I would agree that the sellers should be out of the home during the inspection due to their personal attachments to the home, but their agent should definately be present. Of course, both the buyers and their agent should be as well. It's also important that the inspector be able to answer questions about and or clarify his/her findings after the report is presented.

Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Howell NJ Homes for Sale (Bruce Kunz @ Veltri & Associates, 866-483-5874 x464) almost 4 years ago

Buyers clearly should be there to reduce agent liability !!!!!!!!! Buyer's hear directly from 3rd party inspector(who has E & O) and learn alot about the house they're attempting to buy. Seller's shouldn't be there, let the photo's do the talking later(upon repair requests).

Posted by Michael J. Perry, Lancaster Relo Specialist (RE/MAX Associates of Lancaster, PA.) almost 4 years ago

To Alan Kent, comment #11,

I couldn't disagree more! Actually, I prefer that all parties attend, if possible, unless one party appears to be difficult.

(emphasis added)

That sounds like a huge can of worms waiting to explode.  Who determines who is difficult?  What is considered difficult?  That certainly sounds like a loaded definition with a powder keg attached to it.  What do you do if it's your clients who are difficult?

Posted by Matt Stigliano (Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME) almost 4 years ago

Gary - You said it.  I know what those deals can be like.

Brad - all great points.  I like your approach.

James - thanks :).  I agree, that article was ridiculous.  I discussed it at length in my blog about whether or not real estate agents should attend the inspection.

Maureen - lol, also good suggestions.  I understand your points about the home inspector asking detailed questions about the house.  I can picture myself asking those questions...

Brian - how so?

Claudette - I would take that kind of seller any day too :)

Bruce - I have no problem with the seller's agent attending the inspection, but I've done thousands of inspections without them.

Michael - agreed.

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Matt - and how could you possibly know ahead of time?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Well, I myself have the Sellers pay for their own inspection before we put the house on the market. I tell my Sellers if you have any doubt what soever about your home, get an inspection and know for sure. Buyers pay for their own inspection, it's no different than the appraisal, it's theirs, they purchased it.  Some inspection will require more negoitations and it's at that time you can inform the seller. I think it's a good idea for the listing agent or buyer's agent to be present with their client at an inspection.

I agree with James # 18 - This should be a TEAM effort.

 

 

Posted by Graziella Bruner, Broker/Owner - Serving Wayne & Oakland County (BRUNER REALTY LLC) almost 4 years ago

I'm very familiar with that case.  It in no way relates to agent's being present at a home inspection.  The lessen there is for agents to avoid CONDUCTING home inspection functions.  

Joan would point something out that she felt the buyer or inspector had missed.

That agent was probably trying to show how smart she was.

Home inspection notices can be very complicated and EXPERIENCE has shown to me that an agent can negotiate a better result for the buyer if they actually know what they're writing about. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

Hi Reuben,

Around here the buyer and the buyer agent is present the sellers and the seller's agent are not - that just seems to be the unwritten law.

As a seller, before I became an agent, I made the mistake the sticking around for an inspection - I worked from home, so figured it would be no be big that I just continue working while they do their thing. It was a big mistake. Not so much because I was defensive about the house, but because I would listen to see if anything was happening to effect the sale. it was the longest three hours of my life!

Posted by Not In Real Estate Any Longer almost 4 years ago

Ruben, I always attended the home inspection, if I represented the seller or the buyer and the buyers always attended. Can't recall a seller ever sticking around.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA (Michael's Commercial LLC) almost 4 years ago

As the sellers' agent, I do go to the home inspection.  I go at the half-way mark and stay through the finish.  On a recent inspection, the seller came home early.  The weather was nice so we just stayed on the patio and chatted til it was over. 

Posted by Linda Metallo DiBenardo (Re/max Impact, Lockport, Illinois) almost 4 years ago

NO! But I think a lot of the feedback last week, including mine, was that you can't ask or insist that the seller leave. If the seller is nervous, as the seller's agent, I might drop by to check in, but I don't even want to go inside the house. I do not want to know what is being written up, nor do I want to answer or avoid questions. That's what that the attorney's are for. In an attorney state, we literally can't interfere with this step of the contract negotiation.

Posted by Leslie Ebersole, REALTOR - Chicagonulls Western Suburbs (Baird&Warner Fox Valley) almost 4 years ago

Graziella - well put. If the seller wants to know more about their house and ask questions, they should pay for the inspection, not take up the buyer's time.

Lenn - thank you, that's exactly what I took away from that article.  Unfortunately, there is an ongoing myth in my area that real estate agents are increasing their liability by attending the inspection.  As I mentioned in my blog about agent's attending the inspection, it's their behavior that could put them at risk, not their presence.

Pam - that's exactly how things are around here; it's just an unwritten rule.  Funny story about you sticking around during the inspection.

Michael - I'm glad to hear it.

Linda - As long as the seller doesn't try to intrude, God bless.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Leslie - what's wrong with me asking the seller to leave?  I can understand how you wouldn't want it asked rudely... but give me the benefit of the doubt and assume that I can ask with grace; why can't I do that?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Congratulations on the Feature............well deserved Reuben................and I love how it inspired all of this conversation................a true blog experience!

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) almost 4 years ago

Well like all industries...there are good inspectors and bad inspectors.  I did sell my neighbors home a few months ago and was the only agent involved. The company doing the inspection had a new inspector on board and the buyers could not attend the inspection due to conflicts with work...and the seller wanted to be there.

I counseled the seller to stay out of the way and if the inspector had a question, he would ask her.  I was at the inspection and I alternated between interacting with the seller and the inspector.

The new inspector did a thorough job and I gave him the check that the buyers had given me. 

The Sellers had a list of items they were still fixing and inspector received a copy and noted most of those on the report...

All parties were happy even though there were some new items that had to be fixed.

Whether it is a listing or a buyer...I attend at least part of the inspection...because just as I said at the start of this reply...there are good inspectors and bad inspectors...and I don't want a bad one to ruin a deal unnecessarily.

I also take pictures of the issues and when I submit an inspection addendum...the listing agent also gets a cover letter and full page color photos of the issue(s) to share with his/her seller...rarely do I have a problem doing it that way.

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Land Broker, Nebraska Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 (Mike McCann - Broker, Based in Kearney & Serving Rural Nebraska) almost 4 years ago

I believe the inspector should give the summary report to the buyer in private. If the seller is there, then politely escuse yourself and the buyer and to outside. The sellers don't want to hear the house being picked apart.

One inspector began giving the report to my buyer with the seller in the same room. The seller got angry and told the inspector to go outside to give the report because he didn't want to hear "all that crap".

Posted by Bill Travis, Broker/Owner (Captain Bill Realty, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Just like every thing real estate, local customs and mls rules and regs play a part in this process.  Here in the Pac Nor West it is required for an agent to be with the inspector at all times when in the property.  It is usually the buyer's agent.  I have never in 16 years of selling had a seller stay for an inspection.  Of course Ifeel the inspector has a duty to the buyer who has hired them.  I really don't want them "chatting" it up with the seller. 

Posted by JO SOSS, Kitsap County WA Real Estate - HOMEFRONT Realty (HOMEFRONT Realty) almost 4 years ago

That's the best idea yet (leaving a phone number) .  Having both the buyer and the seller at the same time can compromise the transaction.  If they both must be present (and I know the more is NOT the merrier) then their respective agents should be their also to make sure that casual conversation does not reveal to much information.

Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (Keller Williams Realty) almost 4 years ago

Reuben, because I was a builder I often have buyers that are wanting to discuss how they are going to tear apart and remodel all those things the seller has spent a lifetime building----most sellers don't need to hear this stuff :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 4 years ago

Reuben,

Great perspective from an inspector. I have had it both ways, where the seller stays and doesn't.

I, as the listing agent usually show up near the end of the inspection unless I have been asked by the seller to stay for the whole process.

Interesting comments regarding the potential liability involved with staying if you are the listing agent. I'll have to give that some further thought.

I've never had an issue arise when the seller stays. It has usually been a pleasant experience for everyone involved, the buyers ask the seller about the schools, neighborhood, etc. But, i see the potential for the inspection to "head south" if the seller is nervous or difficult. I have been lucky so far.

Like I said, you're post has given me cause to rethink the whole seller participation in a home inspection.

Posted by Valerie Duncan Stewart, Real Estate Agent-Broker, OKC, OK ((Metro First Realty)) almost 4 years ago

I agree with you 100%.  All a seller does is slow down and distract a home inspector and/or say something inappropriate to the buyer.  There presence really is not needed as they will certainly be informed of any issues that need to be repaired.  It is truely the buyers time to fall in love with the home just a bit more and really solidify the deal and give them a warm fuzzy feeling that they are making a great decision.

Posted by Stefanie Bernstein (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) almost 4 years ago

I think all buyers should attend the inspection if at all possible.  The buyers agent should also attend.  The sellers can be there until the buyer get there and then they should have the opportunity to learn about the property without the sellers looking over their shoulders.

Posted by Lesley Wagstaff, For Real Estate and Mortgages (Re/Max Results Realty in Vancouver, BC) almost 4 years ago

Reuben, I do try and get my sellers to give the buyer's inspector time to themselves.  We've found sellers that talked way too much & were a distraction to the inspector getting his job done.   

Posted by Susan Brown (Keller Williams NE, Kingwood Texas (Humble & Atascocita too)) almost 4 years ago

A home inspection is my buyers chance to get an independent review of the home. The seller is not welcome nor is their agent. If they would like to for the review after the inspection is complete that is fine but their presence at the inspection is an obstruction to my clients review of the home.

Posted by Michael Russell, Overland Park Kansas Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty Partners, Inc.) almost 4 years ago

Sellers should be there to greet and answer questions, but leave for some period of time to allow the buyer to have their own free time

Posted by Brian Doubleday, Ladera Ranch, Foothill Ranch, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo (Brian Doubleday - IML RealEstate - Orange County, CA Broker) almost 4 years ago

I don't think the seller should be there as the buyer is paying for the report for their own knowledge. If the seller wants to pay for the inspection, by all means, he can be there, but it's none of his business since the buyers are paying and the inspector is working for the person paying.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor, CDPE & ASP - Hill Country Lakeway Austin (Donna Homes, PLR) almost 4 years ago

Roger - thanks!

Mike - you're correct, there are good and bad people in every industry.  Home inspectors are no exception.

Bill - I've done exactly what you're talking about many times.  If the seller hangs around, we all go outside for the summary.  I remember a particularly cold day last year where we all walked over to a nearby gas station and went over the summary while standing by the coffee machine.

Jo - I've heard of some areas where the agents always attend.  I'm glad the buyers still don't attend in your area.

Charita - Thanks.  I recently did this when my house was inspected.  Nobody ever called me though :(

Charles - I know exactly what you're talking about.  I've had buyers tell me in very hushed voices about the changes they're planning to make right away... there's no need to tell the sellers about this stuff.  Nothing good can come of it.

Valerie - if anything, I end up getting information from the sellers that I wouldn't have otherwise found out about.  Possibly one more reason to not have them there?

Stephanie - right on.

Susan - yes, that can be a big waste of time.

Michael - I can certainly see how it would be an obstruction.  It not always, but why take a chance?

Donna - you got it.  The buyers are paying good money for the inspector's time.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

When I represent a buyer, I tell them it is absolutely necessary for them to be present at the home inspection.  I think it is a great opportunity for them to learn valuable information about their next home and understand any recommended repairs.  I am usually present if my schedule allows.  When I represent the seller I tell them not to be present for the inspection.  First, the buyer is paying for the knowledge and most sellers would be very anxious about the findings.  Secondly if the sale falls thru and the sellers were present they now have an obligation to disclose all the information they learned during the inspection.  Seems like too much risk for liability!    

Posted by Tami Behler (Prudential Bob Yost Homesale Services) almost 4 years ago

The home inspection is paid for by the buyer. The seller has no right to be there since they could influence the inspection. If the seller is not comfortable with the inspector in the house then the listing agent should stay in their place.

Posted by Christa Ross, Helping you buy and sell Pittsburgh's Best Homes (RE/MAX Select Realty - REALTOR and Green Homes Specialist) almost 4 years ago

I would not recommend to my seller to be home during a buyers home inspection. Sellers have a personal attachment to their home. The automatically go on the defense when a problem area is identified. The listing agent should be there, but not the seller.

Posted by Ed Pichette, RE/MAX South Shore Realty (RE/MAX South Shore Realty) almost 4 years ago

Reuben,

While I agree in principle, that in most cases the seller should not be present during a home inspection, I disagree with your approach. In your last post about Radon, and this one, you seem to ignore that there are agents involved in the transaction who know an awful lot about their clients, and the transaction than you do. I would much prefer that you contact one of the agents involved in the transaction before directly asking the seller to leave their own home. Just my opinion.

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 4 years ago

That was informative.  I usualy don't mind the seller being home, but I liked your idea on the seller leaving his cell phone number for questions. 

Posted by Kathleen Koulouris (Coldwell Banker Preferred) almost 4 years ago

I always attend.  I want to be there when my clients and inspector communicate.  I've never had the sellers there, long.  Maybe if it's an early morning inspection the seller be leaving.  Once, the teen age daughter was there (it was summer).    I disagree wtih #50 -- the seller has an absolute right to be there -- it's THEIR house!  But, to provide the buyers with courtesy to have open discourse with the inspector, etc., they leave. 

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner, Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results (BuyersAgentPortland.com | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time) almost 4 years ago

Tami - I agree, buyers should always be there.  Good point about the sellers potentially learning too much.

Christa - I'd much prefer having the selling agent at the inspection than the sellers.

Ed - I'm sure I would be defensive about my own house too.

Rich - you wrote "you seem to ignore that there are agents involved in the transaction who know an awful lot about their clients, and the transaction than you do."  How so?  

I think you're saying that you'd rather I contact one of the agents involved in the transaction because you're making an assumption that I'm not capable of doing this on my own in a graceful manner.

Kathleen - It will be interesting if I start seeing phone numbers after writing this post...

Carla - I've had similar situations, and I have no problem with the 'exceptions'.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Reuben, I agree with much of what you're saying. I think listing agents need to explain to their sellers that inspection time is buyers time, part of the sales contract, at least in Utah. As to communication, that is the job of the respective agents, they need to thorougly understand the issues, so it's great to have a couple of great inspectors you know and trust. The ability to convey issues to agents and/or buyers in an understandable manner is part of their qualification. Finally, regarding the liability issue, you mention that it's the "behavior" of the agent, not the "presence". While I believe that's true, most of us can't afford to even win a lawsuit these day, much less lose one. Mere presence can lead to an expensive "win". That's what many agents are actually concerned about, not actually losing a suit. Great post!

Posted by Chris Sloan, Tooele Utah Real Estate (Group 1 Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

I read the title as an unconditional question that has conditional answers.  Many cases/arguments may be made for the Yes response as well as the No response.

Maybe an inappropriate comment on a forum for real estate professionals, yet there are direct transactions between a seller and buyer that also have home inspections. 

During a home inspection I prefer a seller representative and a buyer representative to be present for the duration of the inspection. 

In general terms, the seller should attend the inspection when they add value to the inspection process and the seller should not attend when they provide a distraction to the home inspection process.

Posted by Jim Mushinsky (Centsable Inspection) almost 4 years ago

No, I think they should only attend if requested by the buyer or if they are needed to go over something like pool equipment for a limited time during the inspection (end).  Every time a buyer and seller get together it can add up to trouble.

I just had one where the buyer and seller were there during the inspection and they discussed the wood fence.  My seller said he was going to fix it (thinking wood gate) but the buyer thought wrought iron and then we had a problem.

Posted by Stefan West, Temecula-Murrieta-Menifee CA Real Estate (West Realty) almost 4 years ago

Chris - you're completely right about agents telling their sellers about the inspection.  If the seller tells the listing agent that they don't want to leave, the listing agent should at least make a courtesy call to the buyer's agent to let them know.  I completely understand your point about how 'winning' a case in court is still a huge loss.

Jim - well put.  Your last sentence really sums it up.  It's that uncertainty of whether or not the seller is going to provide a distraction that makes me say it's better for them to just not be there.

Stefan - a good reason for having this stuff in writing.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

We ALWAYS let the listing agent know what time we are planning to schedule a WHI and that our expectation is the seller will be absent.  Clearly as a buyer agent, you want your buyer to be able to feel comfortable asking the inspector questions.  When we list the home, we ALWAYS advise our sellers that there will be at least a couple inspections that the buyer will conduct and they are expected to make the home available as well as be absent. 

Setting expectations when possible is usually a good approach to preventing any uncomfortable and/ or confusing situations.

Posted by Ken Patterson, Roseville Real Estate, TOP Rocklin Realtor (TPR Properties) almost 4 years ago

Buyer is paying for the inspection, they should be the only ones there with the selling agent. Thanks for a great article.

Posted by Julie Moorhead, Selling Homes: It's What I Do (Edina Realty, affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway) almost 4 years ago

It's not uncommon in Toronto that if I am representing the buyers, I always attend the home inspection, and I recommend the buyers to attend especially for first time buyers who are owning a home for the first time.

Posted by Anonymous almost 4 years ago

If my sellers stay for the inspection then I'm there, too. Mostly to gag them when they start offering to make repairs.

The problem with a blanket statement that sellers should be gone is the listing side has no clue as to the knowledge of the inspector. In Michigan there is no licensing for inspectors. I saw an inspector claim the shingles were put on backwards on a house that had been recently roofed by a credible roofing company. Killed the deal and the next inspector said the roof looked fine. I've seen inspectors walk into a house without gutters and tell the buyers they need to demand the seller install gutters. It's pretty obvious when a person looks at a house that there are no gutters. Too often inspectors cite code. Code in 1950 or 1850 was certainly different than code in 2010. As I stated on your previous post, I recently had an inspector give the buyer a long list of questions to ask the seller. Questions the inspector should have been able to answer.

But whomever is present, their respective agent should be present, too.

Posted by Jackie Hawley, Southeast Michigan Real Estate (ReMax Encore) almost 4 years ago

Ken - everyone appreciates good communication and clear expectations.  It sounds like you're doing your part.

Julie - thanks for reading.  

Jackie - are you saying that sellers should only be present if the home inspector is incompetent?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Ken, as a buyer that was transferred often; I absolutely did not want the seller of the home anywhere close to that house during inspection. I never want my seller in the house during inspection; new buyer there or not! I actually lost a deal when my seller would NOT leave during the inspection and wanted to strangle the inspector at every turn.... the buyer was not amused!

Posted by John H. Mason, Real Estate Agent - Atlanta Georgia (Harry Norman, Realtors) almost 4 years ago

Thanks for the post today!

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) almost 4 years ago

Sellers being at home inspections of their home makes everyone so uncomfortable. If they feel the need for someone to be there besides the inspector, buyer and buyer's agent...their listing agent should be present instead.

I have never seen it go well when a seller was present at a home inspection and would not recommend it.

Posted by Mike Carlos, Realtor, Tallahassee FL (Keller Williams Town & Country Realty) almost 4 years ago

I always attend inspections whether I'm representing the buyer or the seller.  I recommend that the seller stay away but I encourage the buyer be present.

Posted by Tammie White, Franklin TN, South of Nashville (Benchmark Realty, LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.TWRealtyGroup.net) almost 4 years ago

Reuben: You asked why you shouldn't ask the seller to leave? The answer seems so simple to me. (1) It's the seller's home. You have no right to ask them to leave their home. If you believe strongly enough about this you should instruct the buyers'agents you work with to demand, in writing, that the seller leave the home for the inspection. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I would report you to the state licensing authority for overstepping your bounds if you asked my seller to leave his home, even if I agree with you, in fact, that it is a good idea for the seller to leave. (2) inspectors say that they want the seller to leave so that they can "discuss " things with the buyer. But during the inspection phase, the buyer is really only a potential buyer. The home inspector's job is to report on conditions that affect the health and safety issues and any material defects of the property. The fact that most good inspectors, including my favorites, also explain a bunch of stuff during the inspection is irrelevant. The "chit chat" and "education" is not part of the inspection process as it relates to the real estate contract. I know that buyers, including my own, love hearing from a knowledgeable person during the inspection. But this "added bonus" is not an essential part of the inspection for a completing a home sale. A great home inspection and write up should be able to be conducted in front of the seller, the seller's mom, and the family dog, and communicated to the seller and his attorney after the inspection is completed. If the home inspector also wishes to extend his services into "teaching" a potential buyer about the house he may be buying, he should come back after the closing.

Posted by Leslie Ebersole, REALTOR - Chicagonulls Western Suburbs (Baird&Warner Fox Valley) almost 4 years ago

John - been there :)

Patricia - thanks for reading.

Mike - thanks for chiming in.

Tammie - agreed, the buyer should always be there if possible.

Leslie - You're saying I shouldn't ask the seller to leave because "It's the sellers home." Do you tell your sellers they should leave for showings, despite the fact that "It's the sellers home"?  I feel no need to be demanding about this issue.  This is just a common courtesy thing... at least in my area.

About your second point... I don't even know where to start.  If you don't have a problem with the seller attending the home inspection in transactions that you're involved with, God bless.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

I'm with Maureen on this one! Seller/Owner heavily sedated in the corner snoozing in the lazy boy. No sellers hanging/lurking about interjecting with nonsense.

Obviously you've put a burr under some agents saddle here LOL.  Rrrrrffffff.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Homes (RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago) almost 4 years ago

It is common in our area for all AGENTS to ask the Sellers to leave for the inspection, just as for showings.  The inspection is on the BUYER'S dime and that Buyer should have the undived attention of the Inspector.  I have had sellers leave their phone number, much as you suggested, and that is the best solution and certainly the closest you want the seller to be.  As a Buyer's agent, I usually stop in at the front of the inspection to say hello if I can, but most certainly, stop in for the last half hour to catch the full summary and let the inspector relate to me any major problems, so that I can then be intelligent in my repair request.  I don't like getting it third party from my Buyer as it is usually blown out of proportion at that point. 

Posted by Pam Ruckriegel, Negotiating the Best Deal for You! (Louisville Real Estate Pros - 502-435-5524) almost 4 years ago

IMHO, since the Buyer is paying for the inspection, the seller should respect that and leave the property. If they feel uncomfortable, the seller should have their agent present. 

I also agree that the seller could/should have an inspection done before putting the property on the market so they know whats needs to be addressed and/or disclosed. The listing agent should be familiar with the seller's inspection, so they can answer questions at the buyer's inspection, if needed.

 

 

Posted by Sharon Sein (Sein Organizing Solutions & Home Staging) almost 4 years ago

In our area, there have been some risk management opinions that encourage the brokers not to attend the inspections b/c of cases where the clients came back on the brokers saying "you were there, why didn't you ask them to do....or say...."

I believe it depends on your client/customer.  When I attend I do like to become the silent guest.  I've seen too many times when the broker attending wants to climb onto the roof, into the crawl space, wave their arms around and look like the expert on home inspections.  If you do attend, please keep your expertise strictly to real estate and let the experts do their job. 

Should the sellers stick around?  If I'm the sellers' broker it again depends on my client.  I try to prepare them ahead of time on the process and what to expect.  I think we all know when we have a possible situation, so use your own judgement.

Posted by Linda DeVlieg, Albuquerque Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Legacy) almost 4 years ago

The one inspection I attended at which the seller was present was very uncomfortable for my buyer as well as the inspector. Mr. Seller was hovering over us the whole time and made us feel like we were invading his space! Up to that point I never asked the listing agent to tell the seller not to be there but since having this weird experience I always make sure they tell sellers to be away.

Posted by Chad Sperry almost 4 years ago

I prefer neither party be at the inspection.  It slows the process and is disruptive to the inspector. 

Posted by Jim Pirkle (Harvest Realty LLC) almost 4 years ago

No!

Posted by Annette Sievert almost 4 years ago

Yowee! I cannot imagine anything worse then sellers and buyers at the same inspection. Talk about deal killing, emotion trashing, and problem raising! Getting through normal home inspection negotiations is bad enough.

Posted by Steve and Jan Bachman, Realtors - Northern Virginia (RE/MAX Gateway, Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, Sterling, Fairfax ) almost 4 years ago

Buyer AND buyer's agent should definitely be there.  Seller should definitely NOT be there. I like the suggestion of the note and would add the listing agent's contact information to the Post It as well. Best if neither seller or listing agent are present. Just as it is awkward during showings, it is awkward during inspection.  I think we've all had situations where an overly involved listing agent disrupted the inspection - I must admit I've never had a situation in which the seller insisted on attending....awkward indeed!

Posted by Jeanne Feenick almost 4 years ago

I hear mixed messages about whether agents feel they should be there.  Some of my clients want me there, but I usually feel it's better to let the buyer's agent and the buyers have free rein, and just come in towards the end for the summary report. It's helpful to hear the inspector's dialogue.  I had one inspector present everything as a huge problem, even though they were just ongoing maintenance issues.  Scared the first time buyer to death.  My inspector of choice if very matter of fact and that neutral approach is more helpful to the buyers. They tend to ask question more when dealing with straight facts.

Posted by Karen Crowson, Livermore Wine Country Homes (Alain Pinel Realtors, Pleasanton, CA) almost 4 years ago

There is no upside to the Seller being present. If they are concerned, they should have their listing agent there.

Posted by Brian Clayton, Real Estate Agent - Houston (Moudry Real Estate Advisors) almost 4 years ago

Absolutely hate it when the seller is there.

The last time a seller stayed for an inspection....buyers were there also...when the inspector finished and began reviewing the report, the seller took offense and argued every point the inspector made. I had a very difficult time tactfully convincing her to just be quiet and listen. I was representing the buyers. I wished the sellers agent would have been there to intervene.

Posted by Jamie King, Sandusky, OH (Hoty Enterprises, Inc.) almost 4 years ago

I couldn't agree more with the post. The seller needs to give some space. The buyer needs to be able to ask frank questions to the inspector without the seller hovering. I am ok if the buyer's agent is present. Good point about the liability.

 

Kyle Pettit

www.altateam.com

Posted by Kyle Pettit (Realestate.com) almost 4 years ago

yeah.. I do not like having both parties present for a home inspection.

Would much rather have the buyers... then if any questions do arise... a phone call is all that is needed.

Besideds.. it is the buyer paying for the report!

Posted by James Baxter Encinitas Realtor (Richard Realty Group) almost 4 years ago

Sellers at the inspection will more often than not create more problems than it could help with. Best for sellers to stay away. Laving a phone number for the inspector is a good solution if they want to be available for questions.

Posted by Bruce Swedal, Denver Real Estate almost 4 years ago

Most buyers want to be at the inspection. After all they're paying for it, why shouldn't they attend. I would ask that the buyers reserve all questions about the home until after the inspection so the inspector can get his job done.  As for the sellers being there, the few times this has occured with me, it was uncomfortable for everyone.  It's best that they not attend but leave a phone number as suggested.  I will attend 100% of my buyers inspections and make myself available to the inspector/buyers agent when one of my listings is being inspected for any possible issues/questions. 

Posted by Dan Jasmer, Changing the way you look at real estate (J Wood Realty) almost 4 years ago

I hate to admit, but I prefer to inspect with no one present - my inspection is more thorough and goes quickly with no interruptions.  However, I always advise the buyer to be there - if something IS found, it is much easier to explain in person. 

I have had sellers interfere more times than not - trying to play down deficiencies, explain things found, and actually argue findings.  However the worst is when the seller is moving, but has not moved out yet.  Boxes piled up, "stuff" placed strategically, hiding holes in drywall or water stains...

I had one seller go behind me closing windows, doors, turning off the A/C, turning off lights...

Probably the worst is inspecting a rental property with the tenants present.  They really care whether the inspection goes well...

Posted by Andrew Cox (Cox Property Services) almost 4 years ago

I have had it okay both ways but, not knowing how it will turn out, I vote with you. Best if they are gone but available if the inspector does have a question. Although they usually are either there or I have no clue how to reach them.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc) almost 4 years ago

Very good article! Thank you Reuben for your story!

Posted by James Wehner almost 4 years ago

Reuben,

Great post and insight.  Working for a home inspector in Indiana, we have much the same sentiment regarding a seller's presence at the inspection.  So often, this home is their baby and they want to make that report look as clean as it can to the prospective buyer - which is understandable.  We like having the buyer there - and their agent if possible (which many do come here) - so that we can talk thru the items we found, some big, some not so big; and some very minor maintenance items.

While I agree with Jim that having any party at the inspection slows the process, we find that we are getting business because of our "bedside manner".  We aren't trying to scare anyone, so while a list might be long, our tone and manner of answering questions can be re-assuring.  On the other hand, the list might be short, but the two items are the 50-yr old furnace and original windows that need replaced.  Again, we don't want to scare them, but give them the state of the building.

This manner gives us an avenue to market our services to the buyer and their agent.  Agents appreciate our calm and realistic demeanor.

Posted by Tim Schrock almost 4 years ago

We require selling agents to be present with the buyer..the seller ...oh not

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Short Sale - CDPE, REDS (Keller Williams 414-525-0563) almost 4 years ago

We require selling agents to be present with the buyer..the seller ...oh not

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Short Sale - CDPE, REDS (Keller Williams 414-525-0563) almost 4 years ago

I do not like it when the seller is there.  They do get very defensive and perhaps they talk too much.  They might say the wrong thing, unknowingly, and kill the transaction. 
I have seen them get defensive on many occassions-- leads me to believe that everybody thinks they have the best house, or just how weird people's thinking gets when they thing it will cost them money for repairs...  That is most likely the case.

Posted by Gary Frimann, California Broker and REALTOR (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) almost 4 years ago

I represented buyers in a recent transaction and when we showed up for the inspection the sellers were still there. Talk about akward ...and they were a short sale. It was uncomfortable for my buyers!

 I typically suggest my clients not show up for the first hour of the inspection, let the guy do his job! He will walk you through the home and point out what he finds and review everything but stay outta his hair when he is checking out the property.

If a seller wants to be present during an inspection they need to be the ones to pay for it. Other than that they need to treat it like a showing and GET OUT!

Posted by Rachel Purser, SFR e-certified (Prudential American Realty Center - Pickerington, Ohio) almost 4 years ago

I BELIEVE THAT IT'S BETTER FOR THE SELLER AND HIS AGENT BE OUT. LEAVE IT TO THE BUYER AND HIS AGENT. ONLY ONCE I WAS PRESENT DURING AN INSPECTION REPRESENTING THE SELLER, AND BELIEVE ME, I NEVER DID IT AGAIN.

Posted by ivanilds almost 4 years ago

Great post Reuben.  I agree wholeheartedly and that's a great idea about the seller's phone number.  I'll file that one for future!

Unfortunately, there are sellers that insist on staying - I don't often have that but usually the ones that insist are the ones that have done a shoddy job maintaining the property and they want to be able to jump on the inspector (with a defensive comment) as soon as he/she notices something. It's very disruptive and quite honestly, rude to the buyers who are paying the inspector.  

Thanks for posting this.  It's interesting to see the various comments!

Posted by Rachel Reardon (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 4 years ago
I've found that both Buyers and Sellers tend to disrupt the inspector while he's working. I prefer the Buyers go to the inspection as the inspector is winding down so that the inspector can go over his findings with them. I have a very humerous sheet that I give Buyers so that hopefully they won't disrupt the inspector too much while he's working (If you want a copy, let me know - it's very effective.) Sellers, on the other hand tend to want to challenge the inspector's findings. They tend to follow them around each and every step of the way and it can really slow down the process. I believe it's better for the Seller to wait and see what the Buyers ask for in repairs rather than worry themselves about every little item since what the Sellers perceive to be an issue may not be something the Buyers even address in their request for repairs.
Posted by Lisa Ackerson, CRS - Dallas Fort Worth Area Expert - (817) 994-6639 (DFW Fine Properties) almost 4 years ago
Wow it always amazes me when the listing agent does not advise their seller to stay out of the inspection process. Luckily we have learned to interview inpectors to ensure they do not try to be heroes. Our favorite inspectors are the ones who take the Doctor approach and calmly advise buyers of the diagnosis AND the cure. Most homes are used products and as such have wear and tear to be expected. Sellers often do take exception to findings that they have lived with for years and feel to be minor issues. We also prepare our buyers to expect that if the seller shows up during the inspection that we will leave with the inspector to meet at a neutral location away from the sellers to go over the results. Our inspectors love this idea also.
Posted by Rick and Donna Hamblen almost 4 years ago

Well said and reasonable. Thanks for posting!

Posted by Tre Pryor, Realtor, e-PRO - Louisville (REMAX Champions) almost 4 years ago

Gread Idea - Have the seller leave a contact # if the inspector has any questions.

Posted by Brad Baldwin (Stanfield Realtors, Inc.) almost 4 years ago

Interesting posts,,,,, The people attending the inspection shoudl be the Inspector, The Buyer and teh Buyer's Agent - period.  As a Listing Agent, I typically show-up to make sure the inspector has approrpiate access and then I leave.  I make sure the Sellers are not home for a minimum of 3 hours so the inspection and post-inspection discussion can occur.  I instruct both the inspector and the Buyer's agent NOT to send a copy of the inspection report to me or the Seller unless there is a request for repairs and even then, only send me the portion of the report pertaining to the request.  Listing Agents / Broker tend to forget that everything on that inspection report has to be disclosed to all future buyers in the event that deal falls apart.  There is NO legal requirement that the seller or the seller's agent be provided a copy of the report.  This is NOT an attempt to cover-up or avoid appropriate discsloures, it is a safeguard for the seller when (some) inspectors go overboard and include minute details that could kill a future deal.  If I or the seller know about something, we absolutely disclose it.

 

Posted by Thom Colby (Thom Colby Properties) almost 4 years ago

I did not read all the responsed but as an inspector I prefer they not be there.

if my client is the buyer, they are paying for the inspection and all information I find is private until they choose to devulge the information. I do not discuss the findings of the report with anyone unless I have permission to share from the buyer (client).

 

if the seller is there, i make it clear that I am here for the buyer and cannot devulge my findings. I may take advantage and ask some questions... who wouldn't... but the phone number is a great idea.

I've been in long dragged out conversations before with sellers... "oh... do you know why it's like that... I did this and this and that... " nope prefer them not be there...

Posted by Jeff Campbell almost 4 years ago

What I do, as the sellers agent, I will attend the inspection, and take notes of what I hear the inspector talking about so I'm prepared when the report comes back and the buyers have issues they want resolved, I'm not blindsided and can reference my notes when talking to the sellers. It also gives me time to prepare how to present the issues. I also encourage the sellers agent to be there when I'm on the buyers end.  It's a two fold situation, the sellers agent is prepared to discuss the issues with the sellers, and the sellers cannot claim that the buyers, their agent or their inspector, damaged anything.  If something does get damaged the sellers agent can address it with the buyers agent.  Even if I was asked not to attend the inspection by the buyers agent I will tell them politely, that it is my responsibility to represent my sellers and protect their interest.  I will however, stay away from the inspection process, even if invited I am only in the background and will only ask clarifying questions. I never get on the defense or cause an awkward situation.

Posted by Ken D'Ademo almost 4 years ago

As an Inspector I have had this situation many times and it will happen again.

  For whatever reason the seller cannnot or will not leave.   The inspector and agents should be working togeter to ensure the buyer gets an unbiased inspection.  Sometimes there may be information the inspecter can only get from the seller.

  However many sellers are not honest with the information they can or will give.  Just the same as some agents are not honest. Just the same as some inspectors are not honest.  You get the same amount of dishonesty no matter what walk of life you are in. I have had sellers and agents walk around explaining away defiencies that I have found, trying to minimalize them.  Very uncomfortable.

   For those of us who are honest and want the best for our client wheter agent or inspector, this may be a bit touchy at times but a real professional can work the situation to ensure an inspection is properly done. Many seller do get defensive if an inspector makes remarks about their findings, as I am literally picking apart their house. 

The inspector should not be relying on the information they get from the seller. If they do, they are not acting in a professional manner.

I have worked with some fantastic agents who try to keep the sellers at arms lenght, while encouraging the buyer to be witht the inspector as much as possible or needed.  

  It is also a poor inspector who tells the buyer that they will inspect separatly and review the report with the buyer later.   If possible the buyer should be with the inspector.

 When I get an inspection where the seller or their agent try to run the show, I advise the buyer that I will only comment on items they need to have identified right there on the spot. I tell them we finish inspecting and go do the review offsite so we can have the needed privacy.

 Bottom line, diplomacy is a major factor in our jobs.

Posted by David Cook (Paragon Inspections) almost 4 years ago

 I do not feel that the seller nor their agent should be at the house during the inspection. The purchaser should be at the inspection if possible because their presence makes it much easier for the inspector to explain the issues discovered. If the buyer's agent is present then they should keep their comments to themselves... let the inspector educate the buyer regarding the condition of the house.

Posted by Donna Fitts almost 4 years ago

I think the buyers should be there. They are paying for the inspection as part of their due diligence. Not the sellers. Plus I agree that the sellers are uncomfortable having someone pointing out defects with their house.

Posted by Melissa & Jason Improta, Connecting People & Properties (Wish - Sotheby's International Realty ) almost 4 years ago

I love the solution of leaving a note to call the Seller with questions!  Perfect solution to what could be an awkward situation. 

Thank you Reuben!

Posted by Victoria Wilson, REALTOR (Realty Austin) almost 4 years ago

I agree the seller should not be there. I had a seller that was not at the inspection and we got a ridiculous report from the inspector. We wondered if he was at the right house. That deal of course did not close. So the next time we were in escrow he demanded to be there so he could answer any questions. But just prior to that he had found an article that some ridiculous Realtor from Texas wrote suggesting that the seller never read the inspection report, therefore if it was a bad report and the deal fell through the seller would not have to turn in the next time because he didn't know about it!!! Is that the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard????

Posted by Mary Campbell (Abrams Coastal Properties) almost 4 years ago

Wow, I have to say I am stunned by some of these remarks. Just like when a property is being shown, a licensed real estate agent MUST be present on the property. PERIOD! An inspector is usually not a licensed real estate agent. Yes, I had a buyer agent on my team who would "pop in" while her buyer and buyer's inspector were there. She should have stayed as long as the buyer was on the property. She is no longer my Buyer's Agent.

I don't recommend the seller be there, and neither should the listing agent. Liability City! Inspections are for the buyer to be there with his inspector if at all possible and if the buyer is there, his/her real estate agent needs to be there also. I do like the idea of leaving a phone number, but they should call the listing agent and let her/him ask the seller what the inspector wants to know.

Posted by Lane Mabray (Houston/Katy; RE/MAX Westside Realtors) almost 4 years ago

I've bought (and therefore sold) more than 10 homes, i.e. IBM = I've Been Moved, and can't recall attending even one home inspection as either the buyer or seller. When selling I always knew my house and other the ridiculous tenting in California which seems to be standard fare, never had more than 1 or 2 nits to fix. I am learning a lot from all these discussions and I agree there should be 2 inspections - the seller's inspection should be before listing goes live and then the buyers inspection.

Posted by Tina Gleisner, Home Tips for Women (Home Tips for Women) almost 4 years ago

I think you make a good point.  However, I also think it depends on the person(s) involved.  The inspection is for the buyer's sake and it does make it easier for them to focus on their inspection if the seller is not present.  If I am the listing agent, I always attend the inspection anyway so that I can first hand hear and see what the problems are if any arise.  I hate playing "gossip" with another agent that may be dramatic about an issue that is not serious at all.  So, attending the inspection gives me first hand information.

I do feel that a seller should not be left alone with a home inspector if the buyer is not present.  Asking them questions could put them in a very vulnerable position without representation which is the awkward position that Victoria mentions avoiding above.  That is why a listing agent should attend as well.  You, as a home inspector should communicate to all parties if present.  I have had instances where the inspector did not want to communicate with me since I worked for the seller.  I attend so that I can get the information first hand and pass it along to the seller in order to be proactive and get things repaired that are problems.  So, keep in mind, that communicating with both agents if they are in attendance and taking the time to point out all of the issues to them both so that everyone is on the same "playing field" if a good stance for you to take with your business.  Just my opinion.

Good blog!

Posted by Tina Beasley (Virginia Capital Realty) almost 4 years ago

I attend all home inspections for my seller and buyer.  One issue with having sellers there is that they 'want' to explain anything that comes up or feel threatened and angry with what is being discussed.  I tell my seller's that I will attend and give them any heads up on something that I think was a big concern to inspector (roof leak, electrical issues, etc) NOT giving any opinions or anything. I tell them that they will get a written report/request for repairs and we will go over it together. 

Sellers may also inadvertently say something that will make a buyer more anxious that is completely innocent.

Posted by Janice almost 4 years ago

I always attend the inspection as the buyer's agent and follow along. I sometimes can ask questions that a buyer may not know or think to ask.

I also agree that the seller should not be there. When I am the seller's agent, I make a point of stopping by the house towards the end of the inspection. This allows me to be shown first hand what the defect looks like if one is found. Photos are great, but seeing and hearing directly from the inspector is a great advantage when I speak to my client (the seller) about any problems that have been found.

Posted by Warren Schutt, Helping People with Their Moves for over 34 Years (Warren Schutt Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

Great thread!!

I go with the flow with whom is present at the inspection. As long as I can do my job.

I go early so I can introduce myself to the home owner, I can ask a few questions if needed. I leave a document at the home with a checklist to explain that I may have left on some lights, and to check the thermostat settings and other areas. I like to leave the home the way I found it. Also, the owner may need an inspector down the road.

I have had the listing agent follow me around in a rainstorm.

The most people I had at an inspection was 17!!

I have had both buyer, seller agents present.

I have had sellers trying to repair areas as I inspected.

Usually I am hired by the buyer, and I need the proper communication to them and there represenative. If there is interference then I will step in.

I have had the sellers leave there number so I can give them a courtesy call when completing the inspection.

Best scenerio is to have seller there when I arrive early, buyer present for entire inspection and the buyers agent there to open home and to review the inspection at the end.

Communication is a key for all involved parties.

 

Posted by Dave almost 4 years ago

Wow, I wouldn't have thought that the topic would lead to anywhere near the thread that is here. I have to agree with the idea that the Buyer is paying for the inspection and the Seller will get to answer questions after the report comes back. I can't see where the Seller can help, but they surely could be an obstacle to a good inspection. 

Posted by Todd Anderson, Park City | Deer Valley Real Estate (You In Park City group - Keller Williams Park City Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

As an agent I call the listing agent and ask them to contact their seller and schedule the inspection.  I always suggest the buyer attend and request the seller not be present.  If the seller won't leave the house at that time I ask the listing agent to ask the seller when they can be gone and try to reschedule.  If that isn't possible within the soecified time frame I ask them to prepare an addendum extending that time frame and have the seller sign it.  Once the seller understands that it is better for them to be gone they usually arrange to vacate during the inspection.

Posted by Anonymous almost 4 years ago

Hi Rueben,

I have had the listing agent and the seller present while performing a home inspection and I agree that it can be very uncomfortable.  In some instances the seller can be a good source of information, yet in others in can be a source of frustration.  At the last inspection the homeowner was present.  She was very helpful and even offered me a cup of coffee and oh by the way she thought my inspection was so thorough that she is going to have me inspect the home that she is currently building.  So I guess you never know.

Posted by Patrick McCaffery Liberty Home Inspections Inc. almost 4 years ago

I am a firm believer that an agent should be at an home inspection it's our job.

I am a firm believer a buyer should be there to see for themselves, if possible.

I am a firm believer that a seller should never be there because it always is disastrous in my experiences.

Good Post.

Posted by Laura Coffey, ReMax of Santa Clarita (REMAX Santa Clarita Real Estate and Homes) almost 4 years ago

Thank you!  Great idea of seller leaving a phone # for inspector.  Makes everybody feel like they are respected and have their own degree of expertise in the matter.  Usually the problem(s) that I find comes up are able to be explained by two heads, especially on oler homes!!     

Posted by Nancy Helfrich - Remax Services-Blue Bell, PA almost 4 years ago

Absolutely right on, Warren, and inspectors that take photos really help the owner understand and also his repair person, what they mean and what the "defect" is. My problem now seems to be that inspectors write up "discrepancies" now that are code for today and not remark that it was code at the time the house was built. A buyer needs to be told that a seller is NOT obligated to bring his property up to today's code. WHAT? Don't let the seller look at the inspection report? Now that is just silly/crazy. If you have a bad inspector/report, just have another inspection or a licensed repair person refute or agree and disclose disclose.

Posted by Lane Mabray (Houston/Katy; RE/MAX Westside Realtors) almost 4 years ago

Good idea about the phone number.  Thanks for the insight!

Posted by Allison Simson (Summit Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

I just had a dialog today with some of my sellers who are considering returning from Panama to attend the inspection of their home.  I sent them the link to this post.

Posted by Bruce Hammond, REALTOR - Port St Lucie Florida Real Estate Sales (Port St Lucie ReMax Properties in Port St Lucie for sale) almost 4 years ago

Great Post Rueben,

 

I feel that the seller should leave during the inspection, and I highly recommend that the buyer is there. Whenever the two get together, bad things usually happen!!!

Posted by Scott LaMantia, GRI (McColly Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

I always have my buyers call a few inspectors that I have highly recommended to them, so they can arrange with the inspector a time that works for them.  (My buyers already know my schedule..)   I INSIST that my buyers be there, unless they have purchased multiple homes, so they can have the one on one education with the inspector and learn all about their new home.  I am always there, but my inspectors are awesome!!!!!    I do not like it when sellers are present - it's never a good thing.

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

The idea of leaving a number for the Inspector to call makes complete sense.  Thanks for this very practical idea Reuben.

Loretta Holscher

Posted by Loretta Holscher almost 4 years ago

Right or wrong we always attend every inspection just so we know what actually went on.  The one time we didn't it seems that a waterline in the attic apparently got stepped on and cracked.  We all know what happens when there's a leak in the attic...... Seller's were out of town when the inspection went on and came home a couple days later to find a huge mess.  Wonder how the pipe got cracked......  No one knows for sure but we have a pretty good idea..... Lot's of not me, not me went on....  Would our being there have made any difference?  No telling.  But we have made it a mandatory practice ever since.

Posted by Jeanne & Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Brokers, Selling Durango CO homes to good people like you! (The Durango Home Team at Keller Williams Southwest Associates) almost 4 years ago

126 comments and counting! I feel as though you have a firm opinion on the Seller being present during the inspection of their property, however, to ask them to leave I believe is a tad inconsiderate. Having a vested interest in the transaction, I believe it's the sellers' right to stick around BUT butt out of any conversation until completion and review of the findings. At that point all parties to the transaction can obtain an educated summary of the defects which will hopefully result in a successful transaction. Would you rather the seller see a laundry list for Request for Repairs in escrow or understand the nature of repairs?

I digress...

Posted by Sheila Rasak (Keller Williams Realty-California Coast Property Group) almost 4 years ago

I always ask my buyers to attend inspections.  If they don't, sometimes when they see the long report and it scares them.  If they are at the inspection, the inspector can explain at that time, if the problem is major or just a future maintenance issue.

Posted by Mary Lou Cherry almost 4 years ago

If seller and buyer meet for a 2-3 hour inspection they start talking.  It could end up with the seller giving away the farm and further negotiations will be tough.  I go to all inspections because if there is a problem I need to see it to explain it to the listing agent. The buyers need my support if it's their first house.

Posted by Patty Clark, Helping People Make the Right Move (Metro Brokers/Morningside Homes, LLC) almost 4 years ago

I agree with Len Harley. I always attend inspections on my own listings, and most buyer's agents will be present as well, along with the buyers. As for the seller, if you are the listing agent, you must know his/her personality and whether they will be a problem. It helps prepping the sellers in advance that the inspector will find stuff. They ALWAYS do, so don't take it personally. I encourage sellers to at least be there for the verbal debriefing at the end. More than one inspector thought there was something wrong with the lights or the fan and it turned out they could not find the switch. Inspectors will not call the seller to ask questions, they just write it up as defective!

Good agents will know not to let their clients converse with each other during inspection other than "hello" upon arrival. I have never had a problem with having both parties there.

Posted by sylvia jonathan almost 4 years ago

I would agree with the notion that if the seller is present, their agent should be as well... but we prefer not to have sllers in the house, as it makes the buyers uncomfortable, and the seller often tries to defend against findings of the inspector, or to ridicule the inspector, even...

Of course, our buyer agents almost always attend, but as Lenn points out, they do not try to assume the role of the inspector...

Posted by Paul Silver, Rhode Island full service real estate firm (Focus Professionals, Inc. Rhode Island Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

There are so many different views. I believe that everyone involved do what's best for their client and for the other parties involved. Each situation is different. Sellers who MUST sell tend to be more edgy during the home inspection, a death involved creating a reason to sell, buyers downsizing because of the economy when they don't want to move, 1st time homebuyers who don't always trust everyone because they are new at the buying process. You never know what the situation will be when you walk into someone's home and conduct an inspection.

So the real estate agent may have some knowledge about their client and may want to be there to "hold their hand" during a stressful few hours.  I get that. When the seller tags along, we make sure we are still addressing the buyer so they understand the situation of that inspected item. Sellers do give their opinions of the items being addressed.  At the end of the inspection, we make sure we address the client only. The seller is never involved in the overview of the inspection, even if it means that we go to our cars to get the privacy. We are able to make sure the buyer hears what WE say about the home, and they don't walk away with the seller's perspective of the home.

Great post! Thanks!

Posted by Jack Rothweiler (Castle Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 4 years ago

8 out of 10 times I will get the sellers business and I prefer them not to be there during the inspection or when I am going over the report. I have had sellers listening to the conversation from another room and that is not right. I work for the the buyer and that is the buyers report. it is his option to give the report or parts of the report to the sellers for repairs. and it never fails, when the sellers are present they want to follow you around and ask questions and distract you from doing your job. I also like the buyers agent present when we are going over the report so there is no confusion about what is happening. we all stay on the same page that way.

great comments everyone.

Posted by Sam Johnson (Inspection Max) almost 4 years ago

Simply put and nicely put NO. Not unless it is a Pre-listing inspection. There is enough distractions from other things to have to put up with the owner as well.

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Simply put and nicely put NO. Not unless it is a Pre-listing inspection. There is enough distractions from other things to have to put up with the owner as well.

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 4 years ago

From the comments here, it is very good blog, I was doing inspection with a seller present and I made a comment about the roof and he took the comment the wrong way.

Posted by Fred Sweezer Sr., Certified Home Inspector (Hud Certified 203K Consultant) almost 4 years ago

I always advise my buyers to attend their inspections so they can ask questions... I tell them to follow their inspector with out being a PIA... It is often much easier for a buyer to understand problems when they are pointed out and explained rather than read a report that will often make things seem worse than they are. Also, it is a chance for a buyer to get to know the mechanicals of the home, I have seen great inspectors explain how to replace filters, where shut offs are etc...

As for the sellers, I dont think they sould even be in the same town for the inspection!

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) almost 4 years ago

After having gone through three inspections on the same house this year... and eveyone of them turning up different things, sellers had no clue about... I think it is up to the seller to decide wether they want to be there or not. The seller needs to be informed prior, that their "castle" will be turned inside out and left and right. They need to know they should only listen not interfere. But if they can stand that, perfect. And yes, if the seller is present the seller's representative should. In a MD standard contract with the Home Inspection it clearly states, the seller and thei agents have the right to be present during home inspection. How can anyone sit thee and deny them that right? These days a seller has very little to say about how and when and for how much his/her house is going to sell for.

Would we have been at the inspections we could have saved the first deal and be done with it.

Oh and make sure the conducting inspector is certified to comment on anything he is commenting on. A home Inspector is in most cases NOT a licensed septic or mold inspector, HI should not comment on those things or conduct any of those inspections unless he/she can present a license for it. 

 

Posted by Anonymous almost 4 years ago

Here's my two cents worth. The seller should never be there for a home inspection, and if so for any reason, should not never interfere or prevent the home inspector to conduct his/her independent inspection. A copy of the seller's disclosure (if it exists in your state) should always be provided to the inspector prior to the inspection.

Inspections can take hours.

Be weary of sellers that want to provide an 'explanation' about anything, especially if the seller is Mr. Fix-It-Myself. If it needs to be explained = trouble. Let the inspector do his job from an independent perspective.

The buyer and the buyer-agent should attend the last 15 minutes of the inspection, to review the results so that the inspector can actually show and explain items discovered in his/her report.

The seller and the listing agent should never attend this meeting between the inspector and the buyer and buyer-agent.

The inspection report is a contingency on the transaction and a negotiating tool between buyer and seller. Buyer and buyer-agent are to discuss the inspection report, the risks and how it will be presented and negotiated, if required, with the seller.

And, when buyer request repairs to be done, always ask that the repairs be performed exclusively by certified contractors- their repairs are always guaranteed. Ask for copies of the receipts and make them contingent for the close of escrow - 3 days prior to the close of escrow. Never accept repairs performed by the sellers - that's a recipe for disaster - i.e. seller or know-it-all uncle Joe decides to fix the roof leak and seller is not a certified roof contractor or seller or uncle Joe needs to fix or replace the water heater and seller is neither a plumber or electrician - that spells trouble ahead.

Posted by Richard Bazinet /MBA, Phoenix Scottsdale Real Estate (Realty ONE Group) almost 4 years ago

It seems to me somethings missing, shouldn't you be having the scheduling conversations with the sellers agent?  I for one do not leave my clients unrepresented.  Should my seller open their home to an agent and their buyer for a showing I do ask that the agent respect my relationship and reserve pointed questions to be discussed through me and I prep my sellers as well. I have never had a problem with both parties there. 

If you paid for a licensed inspector why would an agent want to probe like one?  Seems to be a liablity waiting to happen. Thank you for the blog it's good to know there are agents out there willing to steal your business at any opportunity.

Sally Melby

Posted by Sally Melby almost 4 years ago

Congrats on the feature, Rueben.

You've obviously stirred up some interesting viewpoints.

Like you, I prefer that the seller, and any interfering agents who want to strut their home inspection knowledge, be absent, just like I am when they provide their real estate transaction expertise.

They have their turf.  I have mine.  As a TEAM we serve the buyer's interests.

There's good, bad and ugly in all fields.

And still the world spins!

 

-

Posted by Erby Crofutt, The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY (B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com)) almost 4 years ago

Rueben:  We explain the entire inspection process to our sellers and talk about why it would benefit the process if they leave during the allotted time.  The buyer should be there, their agent should be there, and the inspector should be there, the homeowner should not.  Thanks - Carrie

Posted by Carrie Sampron, ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R (Home Smart Realty Group) almost 4 years ago

I was one of the respondents last week who stated that I would report any agent who told my seller that they must or should leave their own home.  That's my job as he listing agent.  I think everyone would agree that it's better if a seller is not there.  However, they have every right to be if they wish.  Personally I jump through hoops to avoid having a buyer and seller come face to face until the settlement table.

I have to agree with Lenn and a few others.  Where are the agents?  It seems as if you create a lot of these problems by not communicating with your coop agent.  Just call the Seller's agent and ask who plans to attend.  Would that be much easier?

A few points, and in my opinion only:

  1. An agent who opens their mouth at a home inspection (to ask questions or who places them self in a position to be "challenged") is a liability to them selves and their Brokerage.  The agent's job at an inspection is to "look pretty".  Period.  Asking a seller about "stains" and how things have been installed is a dangerous game, Reuben.  It's going to come back to bite you!  It seems like you're asking the seller to step back and let the inspector do his job, but you're not following that good advise yourself.
  2. I attend every HI whether my client is a buyer or seller because of agents like you.  A coop agent has no business peppering my seller with "a ton of questions".  It's over-stepping and it's disrespectful to your fellow agent. 
  3. If I'm a buyer's agent and my client doesn't make the time to attend their home inspection .... I just can't imagine!  What buyer in their right mind wouldn't be there (unless they are investors). 

I think the point your trying to make is valid.  It IS usually more comfortable for all if the seller is not there.  However, you certainly shouldn't judge your fellow agent (or the seller) if they want to be home.  You've disclosed enough facts here to make me wonder if perhaps you're not your own worst enemy?   Less trying to micro manage your Coop agent's client and better communication with that agent is the best advice that I can give you.  

 

Posted by Pam Turley-Lucido (Home Towne Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

IMHO, sellers should not be present for the home inspection.  This is a sensitive time - the buyer still has an option to cancel the contract, at least here in Georgia.  The best path to a positive outcome is for the inspector, the buyer, and the buyer's agent to have a comfortable climate to inspect and discuss the condition of the home.  Anything that interferes with that has a better than even chance of messing up the deal.

Posted by Jeanne Dufort, Madison and Lake Oconee GA (Coldwell Banker Lake Country) almost 4 years ago

I see some heated comments.  I like everyone to be present for the last half hour of the home inspection.  No use in following the home inspector, when he will be reviewing everything in detail at the end.    I usually negotiate repairs on the spot.  Not at the same table, but within the next couple hours.   I prepare the sellers or buyers on how to handle themselves at the home inspection.

Posted by Tere Rottink (CoastalVa Realty Inc) almost 4 years ago

Reuben - It seems that you are assuming that all home inspectors are as thorough and conscientious as you are. But... just as there are poor agents, there are poor inspectors.

I'll never forget the buyer who wanted to draw blood from someone after closing because she had relied on an inspection report.

Although she had not mentioned it to me, it seems that having an attic fan was important to her. The inspector reported it was "working," when in fact it didn't exist. She didn't figure that out until she tried to figure out how to turn it on.

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) almost 4 years ago

The buyer is paying for a professional home inspection and needs to be able to discuss conditions and ask questions of the home inspector without restraint.  It would be wonderful for the seller to hear all of this but then again wouldn't a husband want to hear what a wife says in private to her friends?

Posted by Tony Lewis, RE/MAX Valencia, Stevenson Ranch, Santa Clarita (RE/MAX of Valencia (Hall of Fame) 30 year Valencia Resident) almost 4 years ago

 I am surprised that  not all agents attend home inspections. Isn't that part of our job?

In this market, it is customary for the buyer and both Listing and Buyers agent to be presnt. The listing agent is present in the house,  to represent the sellers and answer questions if necessary, but stays out of the way. The buyers and Buyers' agent  follow the inspector. Th report belongs to the buyers, and the sellers( or their agent)  have no right to it, unless there is an issue that the buyers want addressed, in which case that portion of the home inspection report must be shown to the seller.

As many of you pointed out, sellers are advised to have their own inspection report prior to selling. In most cases, I'll bet they do not make this report available to prospective buyers.

Posted by Linda Fidgeon, Make your next move your best move! (Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Page Realty) almost 4 years ago

A lot of my buyers are not in town for their inspections so I usually end up going to be the boots on the ground for them. However, I tell them in advance that I'm there as their representative only. If there are any problems that require an Sellers Response to a Buyers Request for repairs,  I want to know what the problem is first hand. I have one inspection group I use that takes a lot of pictures if a problem is found. These pictures can be emailed and this is very helpful. I feel if the seller is their they are protecting their "nest" even if they want to move on. If the buyer is present at the inspection along with the seller, I don't like it at all but it happens. Great post , thank you.

Posted by Lynn M. Bower, PA, ABR, GRI, RSPS, AHWD, PMN, CNE (John R Wood Realtors) almost 4 years ago

Great post Reuben! The inspection period is the one opportunity for the buyer & buyer's agent to do their due diligence in privacy, speak freely and inspect every aspect of the property without the seller, or the seller's agent hovering over and commenting on every inspection item. I have never seen any reason for the seller or seller's agent to be present. I feel it is absolutely the buyer's agent's resposibility to be there with their buyer though. I like the idea of the seller leaving a contact phone # though if needed!

 

Posted by Lynnette Boudet, ABR,SRS,SRES, Licensed LA REALTOR (Latter & Blum Inc., REALTORS ) almost 4 years ago

Interesting post. I have no problem with the seller and/or his agent being present. In most cases it turned out better for the buyer because the seller was there to see the problems as opposed to having them explained to him after the fact.

I actually prefer the seller's agent, because then he can explain what was found, to his seller.

I have had a seller follow the inspector around with a clip board making notes. By the time we prepared our actual repair request, the seller had already fixed EVERYTHING he wrote down himself, even though some of the items were NOT on the request from my buyers. Happy buyer. Happy seller because wanted to be sure we had a happy buyer!

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (LONG REALTY) almost 4 years ago

If I'm the buyer's agent, no way do I want the sellers at a home inspection. I think leaving a phone number for questions is good. Sellers get copies of the report if there is an issue anyway. I also don't attend unless the buyer asks me to.

If I am the listing agent, still no way do I want the seller there. This is the buyer's time to get a good look at the home and its issues. Questions can be asked and laid to rest later. I would never attend a buyer's inspection if I am the listing agent. The buyer is the only one I want there with the inspector.

I have recently had a situation where it may have been good for me or the seller to be there though. It was a summer home and the seller had not been there for weeks. I had no idea that they shut off the gas, water heater, a/c, furnace, etc. and since the home inspector would not turn anything on, he just declared that all of it was not working, never checking to see that everything was off. Caused a lot of upset and worry over nothing for both parties. He was hoping for a second trip back to the house to fatten his wallet. What an idiot. We turned everything on and buyers came back with their agent to see that all was working and ok, cutting the inspector out at that point.

Posted by Sandra Newman, REALTOR® e-PRO® Keller Williams Golden Star, Pa almost 4 years ago

   This issue certainly is debatable.  One one hand, if the prospective buyer is paying for the inspection, then it's THEIR inspection, not the sellers.  Personally, I don't have an issue with the seller being physically present in the home but it's not necessary to accompany the inspection party on their tour.  It's handy if the inspector has questions if the seller is knowledgeable but that's not always the case.  Often the seller isn't the original homeowner so are they speculating or relaying information they were told by previous owners?  Basic questions, like the operation of the garage door opener are one thing but I don't know how many sellers would even understand the concept of footings for the support pillars in the basement - and the home inspector wouldn't be pulling up the carpeting in the basement to check! 

   There will always be cases where the seller could be hostile - people aren't always selling because they want to.  This certainly could cast a cloud over the inspection process.  But personally, If I were selling my own home, I WOULD be present for the home inspection.  The buyer may have paid for the inspection but it's my home until I say otherwise.  I'd have liability concerns that include making sure nobody is wandering through my house (and posessions) while the inspector is up checking the roof AND that the inspection itself is being carried out in the safest manner possible.  I actually witnessed a home inspector climbing a improperly set ladder while holding a clipboard in one hand and a flashlight under his chin.  The ladder started sliding to one side and everthing came down.  Fortunately he was only from a few feet off the ground but the potential for personal injury or damage was huge. 

   I do think it's important to know who will be present BEFORE the actual inspection.  If anyone has an isssue with the inspection process, this needs to be revealed beforehand.  This is the time to explain to your clients the pro's and cons.  Otherwise you place everyone in an awkward position and at the end of the inspection day may throw the inspector into the role of counsellor & peacemaker.  Nobody likes to be unprepared but realistically, the upper hand belongs to the sellers.

Posted by Lorri Baranyai almost 4 years ago

I find it distracting when a seller is there for the inspection.  In NY, the home inspection report is a CONFIDENTIAL document, and the client even has to give permission to release a copy to their agent!  (All of them do anyway, but that's what kind of a state NY is.)  So discussing this confidential document should be done with my clients and anyone they give permission to (agents, family attending, etc.).  A seller showed up early once, just as I was finishing and, since I had found some leaks in the gas line, I showed him the areas (since it is is a hazard and he lives there).  He was even defensive about that!  He asked me how I knew there were leaks.  I showed him my instrument and demonstrated its use and then he was satisfied that I had actually detected the "little" leaks.  I can't imagine how it would have gone if he had been there the whole time.  Thankfully, since I had been communicating with my clients the whole time, discussing the "recap" in hushed tones went quickly and we were out of there!

Posted by Julie Babcock -Nook & Cranny Home Inspections (Nook & Cranny Home Inspections Tonawanda, NY) almost 4 years ago

I've been a certified inspector for over ten years now and while in the beginning I really preferred being alone during an inspection, these days I don't really care who is there.

If the seller is going to be there, I make sure to explain to them what I'm going to be doing. I'm very careful how I discuss anything I find while the seller is nearby. However, I water down nothing. What I say and how I say it is about the same whether it's in my report or just verbal and the "ears" present have little effect.

Quite frankly, if they haven't been taking care of their house, they are well aware of that and if they have been keeping up with the maintenance, they're usually grateful when I've found something and didn't make a big deal of it.

The only issues I've ever had with a seller is when the seller thinks he is a contractor and I'm finding all the things he's done improperly. Once I make clear to him that I was a contractor for 18 years it usually quiets him down.

In my experience, the more interested parties present, the fewer questions come up later. I honestly believe it comes down to the attitude and professionalism of the inspector and the agents present.

The biggest issue when all parties are present is the inspection takes longer and can become a "dog and pony" show. I don't know of any inspection I did (over 2500) that the seller presented any negative issues that weren't easily handled.

Posted by Dean Forrest almost 4 years ago

It's the seller's home until it's sold so he/she have the absolute right to decide for themselves.  Of those who stay, some will be congenial and some will be difficult; it's our job to work with both types.

Posted by Richard T. Dolbeare, R(B), ABR, CRS...Hawaii Multi-Island Specialist (Keller Williams Realty) almost 4 years ago

If the seller pays for it I think they have a right to be present.  However if the buyer is paying for it the seller should leave.  If they seller wants to control the inspection then maybe they ought to get it done ahead of listing and provide a copy to buyers.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) almost 4 years ago

Reuben,

 

Good topic and really good post and question.  I think it is pretty standard for a seller to try to be at a home inspection to try and explain issues that may come up and talk up the propery as much as possible.  That being said, I also think that it is a bad idea and that the seller should not be present.  I think it's ok to ask that the seller not be present, but I see problem with the agent being present.

In the end, every home will have some minor issues and two agents and parties that are both interested in getting a deal done can definitely work together after a report comes out to take care of anything major so everyone is happy.

Really good post -

Chris

Posted by Chris Clothier almost 4 years ago

Just attended an inspection representing the seller as her agent. This, I think, is the best way for the seller to be "present." Buyer and Buyers agent were each there for part of the inspection, and it was very cordial. I tried to stay out of the way and speak when spoken to or when appropriate...

Posted by Debbe Perry, 828.439.3084 Morganton/Lake James NC (Real Living Carolina Property ) almost 4 years ago

I always have my buyer sign an inspection disclosure form prior to writing an offer that states that my company and I encourage a professional inspection be done, and that we are not responsible for any issues that arise from an inspection. 

I try to attend at least part, if not all, of an inspection so that I have a better understanding of the issues presented by the inspector.  This allows me to give my buyer the best possible advice. 

In my opinion, the seller has every right to be at the house when the inspection is being done, but does NOT have the right to follow the inspector around, unless they want to pay for half of the cost of the inspection.  If it's that big of a deal to the seller to know everything about the inspection, they should have paid to have one done before listing the property. 

Posted by Chad Boyers (The Danberry Co.- Toledo, Perrysburg, Sylvania, & NW OH) almost 4 years ago

I think Reuben's idea of leaving a phone number should basic questions arise is a good one, and I see little value and lots of problems having the sellers present.  It is the buyer who has hired and is paying for the inspection, and they and their inspector should be allowed the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the home without interference.

I also attend my buyers' inspections. First, if there are issues that need to be negotiated, and I have a first hand knowledge of what the problem is, I can better explain that to the listing agent.  Occasionally, there are items that are difficult to describe, and while the listing agent most certainly should contact the inspector for clarification, I need to understand it well enough to know whether an effective solution has been reached. Secondly, I encourage buyers to focus on the issues that are related to safety, structural soundness, or most costly, rather than give the sellers a 30-point laundry list of repairs.  Having a thorough knowledge of the issues helps me better counsel my clients.  And finally, I am the one opening the door for the inspector and the buyers, and I feel a sense of responsibility for the property, just as if I were showing the home.  I don't feel it is wasted time, because following the inspector at a distance has allowed me to learn a tremendous amount (which I can take on listing appointments and suggest to sellers items that are likely to become inspection issues).  Even if I am sitting somewhere out of the way, I'll have my phone, laptop, and/or reading material.

Posted by Lorelei Windhorn (Prudential Northwest Realty Associates) almost 4 years ago

I have never had a seller be at the home when inspections were done. I always attend inspections with my buyers, always. The idea that the buyer's agent could assume liability by attending a home inspection is ridiculous and lazy.

Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Principal Broker/Owner (Safe Haven Realty | 707-332-2560 | Serving all of Sonoma County | Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sebastopol ...) almost 4 years ago

I am still dumbfounded that any agent would think that the sellers or the listing agent would be present at the buyer's inspection that the buyer is paying for. Of course the buyer's agent needs to be present on the property, but not joining in crawling all over with the inspector. Do you drop off a prospective buyer who wants to see a house, open the door and say go look a this property and call me when you are finished? of course not. And an inspector is not a licensed real estate agent. Would you have an inspector accompany a prospective buyer to show them the property? Of course not.

Yes, when there are repairs requested by the buyer, as the listing agent, I ask for the pertinent pages of the inspection report so I can give to the repairman and there is no question what needs to bid on or repaired. Keep it simple. Then send the paid receipts with exactly what was or was not done to the buyer's agent as soon as you have them.

Posted by Lane Mabray (Houston/Katy; RE/MAX Westside Realtors) almost 4 years ago

I just did an inspection yesterday where the seller stayed. He works from home. I let him know what I was doing and where I was going. I descretely pointed out items that needed attention. He took it upon himself to run down the history of the house with the buyer and the buyer was appreciative. This was a pleasant experience. I did however avoid his questions when he asked "so how do I do?" The buyer pays for my service and I kept the results for him.

I have had homeowners stay with difficulty, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Most sellers agents encourage the sellers to leave and it does allow an inspection to move easier.

I personally leave a card with a note that says I intend to leave the house as I find it. This gives the sellers recourse if they have questions.

Posted by Dan Sandweg, Inspections Complete, St. Louis MO almost 4 years ago

The best inspection a client gets is when the inspector is left alone to do the inspection.  Then the client, and yes, even the seller can be there at the end.  When you get pulled in different directions it is a distraction. 

I dont mind anyone being at the inspection.  Ive been doing this long enough that I have met every type of seller, buyer, uncle Joe, father-in-law, aunt Mary you can imagine.

But yes, if you want the best inspection you can get, leave the inspector alone until the end.  Then the inspector knows the entire house and can better answer questions.

Posted by Lee Floyd (Race City Inspections Inc) almost 4 years ago

To me, it's important for the buyers to be there. This is their time to learn about the house, ask questions of concern, and know what's what. I like to be there to know what their concerns are. I don't see any benefit in the seller being there. I was blown away last week when the listing agent screamed at me that I should be crazy to ask her to have her client leave the house during the inspection. She would NEVER ask her seller to leave the house unprotected for buyers and the such to roam through. She even used the phrase "so people could maybe steal something". I won't type my response here  but I've never had that happen before. If this is the positioning the seller's agent takes what does that mean for the reputation of the business and our duties.

I also had one time when the seller was surprised by the buyer having to be there. Why? I don't think buyers should come at the end or not at all. They should be there every step of the way. This is probably their biggest investment and they need to have the knowledge and the responsibility to see it thorugh.

Posted by Beverly of Bev & Bob Meaux, Where Buying & Selling Works (Keller Williams Suburban Realty) almost 4 years ago

I always attend every inspection with my buyers.  It's a chance for everyone to learn about the house.  Only once did I have a seller hang around during the inspection.  There were some pretty tense moments between the two parties.  I suggested to the inspector (privately) that he go forward with the inspection and then ask the buyers to accompany him, explaining he would like to help them learn about their prospective new home.  The Seller got the point and left them alone.  A good inspection is extremely important to the success of the transaction and happiness after the closing by all parties.  I agree that it's best to not have so many people "in the mix" during that process. Thanks for a great post, Reuben.

Posted by Doug Patterson, CRS, ABR, Broker-In-Charge (Park Place Real Estate, Broker-In-Charge) almost 4 years ago

Dear Ruben:

I have only one issue with your blog.  What law in MN allows you to create a "fiduciary" relationship with the customers who purchase your inspection services?

Are they "clients" or "customers" in MN?

Just asking.

Posted by Tom Waite, So Cal-Apartment Bldg Investments (Thomas Waite Real Estate Broker) almost 4 years ago

How about only the home inspector and the buyer attending. I have found that wandering around the home during the inspection for my buyer is not only boring, but a waste of my time. My buyer and the home inpspector need to have the time to look through the home, but my eyes are just another person looking at the same thing andone more person making small talk. My advise is to use a competent home inspector who can handle this without your presence at all.

Posted by Frank J almost 4 years ago

When we get a pre sale inspection, of course the seller is present and in this market a pre-inspection is critical.  We have a full disclosure package with Termite/pest inspection and home inspection that goes to a potential buyer before they write an offer.  Their offer price is based on the reports.  Yesterday the buyers had their own home inspection and my seller did not want to be present. 

Posted by Ann Wilkins, Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont CA (East Bay Sotheby's International Realty) almost 4 years ago

When I represent the buyer I'm always present and I strongly recommend that the buyer is there as well. When I present the seller I greet the buyer, the home inspector and the buyer's agent, but then I leave. I never have the seller there. I tell the buyer's agent that I don't want him to send me the report unless I request it (or portions of it). If I get the whole report I have to disclose any issues I learn about to future buyers if the deal falls apart ....

Posted by gerhard almost 4 years ago

Great post, I liked the little thing that I didn't think of before.....leave a number

Posted by Henry Pailles, San Diego Real Estate, San Diego Realtor, Chula Vista Real Estate (Chula Vista Realtor,Short sale,Eastlake Real estate,Realtor) almost 4 years ago

Reuben,

I like how you tactfully handle the presence of any seller at the inspection.  But when Lenn said, "Where are the agents?" you have to wonder.

Posted by Eugene Adan, Carlsbad Real Estate (Adan Properties, Carlsbad, CA (760) 720-9710) almost 4 years ago

Thanks for agood post!

Vivian

Posted by Anonymous almost 4 years ago

Good post Reuben, appreciate your perspective.  Completely disagree with post #69.  Yes it certainly is the seller's home; however, it is also a marketable commodity with lots of competition!  By the time of an inspection, the sellers should have been educated by their Realtor about the entire transaction process.  The inspection is a service purchased by the buyers, and they are entitled to a thorough and uninterrupted inspection.  It also gives the buyer time to look more closely at the house for any additional cosmetic damage not normally noted by an inspector, but perhaps worth adding to a repair amendment. 

As far as my buyers, I highly recommend they arrive (with me) about 1/2 hour prior to the end of the inspection.  This way, the inspector can do his job - and when he has completed the inspection he can then answer any questions the buyer may have!  Sometimes speaking with the inspector at the propeerty can be very reassuring to the buyer.  My experience with this has been very positive, and has diffused buyer angst over some items on an inspection report. 

Here's a true occurence, when a seller remained for the inspection.  Inspector arrives and begins the service he was hired to do for potential buyers.  When he get to the kitchen, the inspector turns on appliances, as they always do.  The dishwasher begins leaking.  The seller accuses the INSPECTOR of breaking the dishwasher!  The inspector can tell this is not the first time the dishwasher has leaked.  Seller ends up getting very aggressive toward the inspector - the inspector ends up calling the police.  Needless to say, the deal falls apart.  This is a 4,000+ sq. ft. home in a lovely neighborhood.  271 DOM!  Wonder why?? 

An excellent reason why sellers should NOT be present!  In the case where a seller insists on being present, the listing agent should make it their business to be at the inspection also! 

 

Posted by Debra Chiarello almost 4 years ago

Wow, over 100 new comments since I checked this morning.  I always try to respond to everybody, but I don't think I can here.  I'm looking forward to reading all of the comments later tonight.

Thank you all for reading and commenting.  

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

I always get to the inspection 1st when representing the buyer.  I always encourage my buyers to be present for home inspection wrap-ups and not the whole 2 hour ordeal, or 3 hours if the buyer is there asking a bunch of questions.

My favorite inspector brings his own mobile office with him and sets it up for the wrap-up with the buyer and myself.  He prints copies of the full report w/ photos, etc. and gives one to the buyer, to me, and one for the listing agent that I then forward to them.

Posted by Randy Elliott, REALTOR : Lodi / Stockton, CA (RE/MAX Gold) almost 4 years ago

I am at all inspections, regardless of whether it's my listing or my buyer. If I'm the buyer's agent....I love for the seller to be there, much easier to get them to agree to repairs when they have been chatting with buyers that they now see as nice...and my buyers are normally very reasonable on this as well. But....as a listing agent, I NEVER allow my sellers to be there....for the exact previous reason.

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Realtor, Laguna Beach & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (HOM Sotheby's Intl Realty, 949-510-2395) almost 4 years ago

Seller should only attend the inspectionif it has been negotiated as is. ANY other time NOOOOOOO! "Oh I'll fix that..." Caveat Vendor! DO NOT ATTEND!!!!!!

Posted by David Evans, HUD NLB Cumming GA (RE/MAX TOWN AND COUNTRY) almost 4 years ago

Reuben, Wow this is an issue where everyone seems to have a dog in the fight!  Perhaps the reason there ar so many comments is that there isn't a perfect one size fits all solution.

After 10 years of exclusively inspecting houses I'd have to side with never having the seller there but I have encountered cases where the seller was not a problem and actually provided the buyer with a good deal of valuable information for future reference. The main objection I have is that it might prevent the buyer from asking questions by making them uncomfortable.  The buyer needs to have all their concerns or curiosities addressed to be comfortable with signing the contingency release.

I have had sellers agents present and if this makes the seller feel better about having a total stranger in their house for 3 hours or so, great!  It is still their home and I always try to take that into account.

I always encourage my clients to be present during the inspection. I think they get more bang for their buck and, if the clients are there, you almost never get a question later. I also think the agent should be there with their client.  I can explain conditions and findings and put them in the context of the house but the agent is the best source for advise on what is appropriate in that particular transaction.

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) almost 4 years ago

Randy  comment 180 above. 

I have Realtors suggest what you do and it seems logical, but there is a real serious problem with it.  If the is no limiting agreement signed prior to the inspection the insurance company will not honor the insurance policy.  The inspection must be defined and limitations agreed to before hand or it can be argued that the client felt pressured to sign since the inspection had already commenced.  There may be insurance companies that operate differently but the four I have been with over the last decade all had the same requirement.

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) almost 4 years ago

The inspection process is seen as invasive by many sellers causing them to fret. Why would they fret? Because they know that many agents use the process as a renegotiation ploy.

I always advise my sellers to take a ride and enjoy themselves but be available via telephone incase a question crops up. I am also always in attendance but I stay out of the way so the buyers feel free to ask questions of their inspector.

Posted by Doug Dawes, Your Personal Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 4 years ago

Both agents should be present during the inspection. The buyer's agent should have a copy of the TDS and if I'm the listing agent, I would encourage the seller to get a home inspection and CLUE report prior to listing and depending on the resale price range, especially if a luxury home, I'll encourage an appraisal too.

The sellers agent should take notes as the inspector communicates with the buyers or their agents. Why would anyone be fearful and stressful during an inspection if all material facts are already disclosed to the prevailing parties?

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Kimo's Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) almost 4 years ago

There seems to be a few common themes with the comments.

  • The sellers should not be present for the inspection.  I agree.
  • Nobody can make a seller leave, it's their house.  True.
  • Sometimes sellers can be home and it's not a problem, but there's no way of knowing this ahead of time.  I say it's better to safe than sorry.  I'm basing my opinion on experience.
  • Opinions are divided on whether or not the buyer should be there for the entire inspection, but everyone agrees that the buyer should be there for at least part of the inspection.  There is no right or wrong answer here; it should be left up to the home inspector.  Personally, I prefer to have my clients attend the entire inspection, but I know of other inspectors that prefer to have their clients show up at the end of the inspection.  This doesn't make them any less of an inspector.
  • Opinions are divided on whether or not the agents should attend.  Some agents feel that their attendance is unnecessary and intrusive, others feel that if the agents don't attend it is lazy and negligent.  This is a regional thing.  Here in Minnesota, most home inspectors are affiliate members of one of the REALTORS associations, which means we also have electronic lockbox keys.  We go in to houses by ourselves all the time - it's standard procedure.  I wrote a separate blog about this topic here http://activerain.com/blogsview/1033272/should-real-estate-agents-attend-the-home-inspection-.  

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

For all the great comments - thanks again!  The most common question I received was "Where are the agents?"  See my comment above.  There were a couple other questions that I didn't want to leave unanswered.

Pam (#145) -

 

  1. If the seller is going to be there, I'll try to get whatever information I can from them.  I don't see how this is a dangerous game.  Sure, if I took their word as fact and reported it as such, that would be a problem on my part.  On the other hand, if I just repeated what the seller told me ("The seller told me that stain occurred when..."), how could this cause a problem?  
  2. I'm a home inspector, not an agent.  My job is to inform my client about the house they're buying. If you don't want me to ask the seller questions about their house, have 'em leave :-).
  3. Agreed... but sometimes it just doesn't work.

 

I'm not judging anybody, and I'm not trying to micro manage anybody.  I'm sharing my experience, and I'm giving my opinion.  I'm quite certain that I've performed many more home inspections than you've attended, and I've had enough bad experiences with home sellers to know that it's usually best if they're not around.

Tom (#171) - 

Who said I'm creating a "fiduciary" relationship with my clients?  Are you implying that the word "client" necessarily means a fiduciary relationship?  If so, I disagree.

I'm not an attorney, but the attorney who wrote my inspection agreement called 'em clients, and after checking a few different dictionary definitions, I think the word "client" is quite appropriate.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Reuben, I agree 100%, when are you moving to London Ontario?

Ty

Posted by Ty Lacroix (Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc) almost 4 years ago

I can't believe the intensity of this thread.  You stirred up some emotions!!  Years ago (17 to be exact) I worked with an inspector.  On all the inspections that I attended, we were always alone.  I don't remember sellers, buyers or agents there.  This being before all the technology today, the inspector wrote up the report and sat down with the buyers a day or two after the inspection.  I don't think anyone "has" to be there if you have a good inspector who is going to sit down with the buyer and explain his findings.

Posted by Stephanie Williams, Realtor Murrells Inlet (Seaside Properties) almost 4 years ago

Great post!  I love the opposing viewpoints of this one.

Posted by Josh & Julie Hambarian (Josh & Julie - Steele Realty. North County San Diego Coastal) almost 4 years ago

Wow. Great Post! There certainly are some strange and heated responses. I do have to agree that no one can kick the seller out of their home, but tactfully asking them by the buyers agent is necessary. I performed and inspection a few weeks ago with all parties present. Yes, the buyer, seller, their spouses and the agents. What happened when I discovered some itmes turned into a negotiation at the inspection. I would explain a concern to the buyer and their agent and then the buyer would say something along the lines of, "This is something that will have to be fixed!". Well, this made things very uncomfortable. I would then be asked to explain the concern to the buyer and their agent. I am more than helpful to the seller if need be, after the report had been submitted. Call and I will answer any questions. I do like arriving at the home of a seller for an inspection before they leave. At this point I can introduce myself and explain the process of what I will be doing and what items I will be looking at. About the post up near the top with regard to teaching should be done after the inspection. Wow, what an interesting point of view. The inspection is there to teach the buyer about their purchase.

Posted by Richard Morse, Property Inspector - Atlanta (Morlin Property Inspections) almost 4 years ago

I do think it's important to know who will be present BEFORE the actual inspection.  If anyone has an issue with the inspection process, this needs to be revealed beforehand.  This is the time to explain to your clients the pros and cons.  Otherwise you place everyone in an awkward position and at the end of the inspection day may throw the inspector into the role of counselor & peacemaker.  Nobody likes to be unprepared but realistically, the upper hand belongs to the sellers.

   As I stated above, I think this should be clarified BEFORE the inspection.  If everyone is aware of the process and understands their role, there shouldn't be an issue.  If the seller insists on being present and the inspector has an issue with this then the buyer needs to find another inspector.  The hiring of the inspector should always be done by the buyer - the agent should have NO part in this discussion.  I know agents will be asked by their clients for a recommendation but this reeks of  conflict of interest.   It raises too many questions ... Did the relationship between the agent and inspector guarantee a good result and therefore a sale?  Was there a private agreement (monetary or not) between those parties?  If the inspection is good, the sale is made but issues arise, who has liability? 

When my mother was selling her property a few years ago, the buyers wanted a home inspection.  My mother's agent was given copies of the specific pages in the report that the buyer had issues with.  They were all minor - one leaky gutter corner connection, 1 wobbly shower head stem and one 3" diameter chunk missing out of the concrete floor of the crawlspace.  We fixed these, in fact we did more -  we resealed all the gutter connections, installed new downpipes and down pipe screens.  I recorded everything we did, including photographs and submitted a report for the buyers.  The buyers agent was so impressed with it, she told my mom's agent.  What I found interesting was that apparently the buyers had not actually hired an inspector.  They had purchased the report from an inspection company who had already inspected the house for another couple.  They wanted to buy it but couldn't qualify for financing so their bid fell through.  The new buyers bought the report for half the price of the original.  I'm pretty sure the original couple wasn't aware of this nor did they get any reimbursement.  I was shocked by this because I think the buyer should research their own inspector but the agent said it wasn't that unusual.  While I can see the financial benefit to the 2nd party, it amazes me that people invest so little in what will usually be the largest purchase they will ever make!

   Now saying all that, we have recently had legislation inacted here to regulate the Home Inspection industry.  Any person wishing to operate as a home inspector must write a government exam and be certified.  This also includes those operating as home inspectors before the legislation.  There is also a government sponsored training program to train qlaified home inspectors.  Pressure from the public, extensive media coverage over leaky condos and the soaring prices of real estate here has led to these changes.  It may not elimnate all the issues but when people hire a home inspector, they should expect a qualified professional, just like they know their real estate agent is.  

Posted by Lorri Baranyai almost 4 years ago

"I've only had one listing agent attend the inspection, ever.  I have no opinion on that one - I don't care either way.  As for the buyers agent, it happens about half the time for me."

Wow! Almost every home inspection in my area is attended by the Listing Agent, the Buyer Agent, and the Buyers. How can the agents facilitate the subsequent negotiaions if they weren't there to observe the findings?

Posted by Alan almost 4 years ago

"I've only had one listing agent attend the inspection, ever.  I have no opinion on that one - I don't care either way.  As for the buyers agent, it happens about half the time for me."

Wow! Almost every home inspection in my area is attended by the Listing Agent, the Buyer Agent, and the Buyers. How can the agents facilitate the subsequent negotiaions if they weren't there to observe the findings?

Posted by Alan almost 4 years ago

I've never had a seller ever want to attend an inspection. A can think of only a couple reasons why they would even consider it. Better off not.

Posted by Bukka Levy, REALTOR - San Francisco North Bay (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Petaluma California) almost 4 years ago

Interesting discussion and different to hear the Inspectors view of the situations can occur, thanks for your perspective.  Margaret C.

Posted by Margaret C. Taylor, St Marys/Calvert/Charles MD Real Estate Agent (Century 21 New Millennium MD) almost 4 years ago

 

I think that unless the sellers want to pay for the inspection, they need to leave. The inspection is for the buyer's use only, they are paying for it. When a seller hangs around, they only slow down the process.

I have a wonderful inspector that I recommend to my buyers. They are thorough, knowledgable, professional, and will return to re-inspect for free. My buyers never have to wonder what the inspector is talking about in his report because he explains each item to them while doing the inspection. In his summary report, he includes pictures with arrows that point out the specific issue found. Further, he encourages the buyer to trail him throughout the inspection and ask any questions they may have. This is particularly helpful for first time home buyers.

I am always there for the inspection. I let all parties into the home, then I get out of the way. When you have a good inspector it is a blessing!

Posted by linda arvanitis (RE/MAX AllStars Realty) almost 4 years ago

For some strange reason the sellers are present about 20% of the time when we do inspections. It is very uncomfortable and you stated corfrectly that most sellers get very defensive about their home. In our case it seems to be because they are usually the ones that did most of the work around the home instead of a licensed contractor. No one likes to admit they made a mistake or didn't do something exactly the way it was supposed to be.

My favorite line is "I'll hang around just in case you have any questions". In most all cases, home inspectors do not have questions about the home, that is why we are there, to answer questions for our clients, not to ask the seller questions.

During inspection time, the only people that should be present are the home inspector and the potential buyer. Anyone else is only a distraction. Lee Floyd said it best above. If you want the most thourough home inspection, leave the inspector alone until the end of the inspection. Firing questions at a home inspector during the entire inspection is a major distraction, wait until the end of the inspection and the inspector will be able to answer any and all questions.

Posted by MC2 Home Inspections, Indianapolis Westfield Carmel Fishers Indiana (MC2 Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Love the idea about a phone number for the seller during inspections. I have had deals fall apart over the seller giving too much unneccessary info at a home inspection. Thanks for the good advice.

Posted by Liane Thomas - Corona & Riverside Real Estate, Bringing you Home! (The Jet Team, Allison James Estates & Homes) almost 4 years ago

I agree. I like your line - "The sellers should be gone during the home inspection for all the same reasons that sellers are gone for any showings."

Posted by Bruce Breedlove (Avalon Inspection Services) almost 4 years ago

I Find it interesting that if the buyers aren't going to be their, that at least their agent wouldn't be their on their behalf

Posted by Jean-Paul Peron, Carova Beach - Living & Working in 4-Wheel Drive (The Outer Banks Real Estate Copmpany) almost 4 years ago

"it can sometimes make for an uncomfortable inspection" bingo- it's like trying to be the referee! Sellers should always be prepared for home inspection. Do you have a blog outside of Activerain? We'd be interested in linking with you.

Posted by David Swartz (Advantage Inspection Service) almost 4 years ago

Hi David, I do - www.structuretech1.com/blog .  I'll add you to my blogroll.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 4 years ago

Great post Reuben! I agree, the Seller does not need to be present for the Buyer's Home Inspection. The Buyer's need to be able to speak with their Inspector openly and freely and not be afraid that the Seller will become upset at what the inspector might say or any question the Buyer might ask.

Posted by Matthew Bartlett (Century 21 Masters/Lic. #01353034) almost 4 years ago

In my experience over the last couple of years it has become less common for the seller to attend the inspection. Of course, that may have something to do with foreclosures accounting for a higher percentage of my inspections lately.

Posted by Bruce Breedlove (Avalon Inspection Services) almost 4 years ago

There are many "moving parts" that go into the purchase of a home.  Each with their own costs.  The inspection is a critical component!

Posted by Tony Marriott, Associate Broker, REALTOR (Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) over 3 years ago

We were selling our home FSBO, so we stayed for the inspection. we didn't intrude, but it gave great insight into what may need to be fixed. If this deal falls through, we know what to fix before the next one! We gave the buyer time alone with the inspector and made no comments on any matters. 

Posted by Julie over 3 years ago

When we perform mold inspections / mold tests , it's best if the client is there.  We can address any concerns and educate them about how to reduce the threat from mold.

Mold Testing

Posted by Josh Robbins (AirMD) over 3 years ago

The inspection is for the buyer. To avoid liability the selling agent should attend; but let the buyers go with the inspector and keep your mouth shut. Redirect questions from the buyers to the inspector..he is the expert and it's his job. If the buyers can not attend, the selling agent should arrange for the inspector to get into the property but do not accompany the inspector. If you do, the buyers will depend on you and your liability increases.  100% Thanks, Chuck Licari

Posted by Chuck Licari (100% Realty, Inc.) over 3 years ago
I'm looking to buy this home. There was previous people that was going to buy it but they pulled out. Now the relator want me to initial there inspection report. I don't fell comfortable doing that. I will bring my own inspector in. have u ever heard of anything like this.
Posted by Patty about 3 years ago

Patty, your agent is giving you terrible advice. If you accept the previous inspection report your agent will get an easy sale (and her commission) but you will be stuck with an out-of-date inspection.

You absolutely should get your own inspection by a home inspector of your choice. Do you know if the previous inspector was qualified? He may have been a brand new inspector with no training. He may have gone easy on the house so he will get future referrals from the agent. And who knows what has changed since that inspection? Could the pipes have frozen? Could a new roof leak have occurred? Could animals have gotten into the attic and gnawed on the wiring and destroyed the insulaton? You won't know without a current inspection.

Most inspection reports are not transferrable to third parties; they are only valid for the original client. That means that if you rely on an inspection report that was done for a previous buyer the home inspector will have no obligation whatsoever with you if he missed something because you were not his client and you did not have a contract with him.

Don't listen to your agent. Hire your own home inspector.

Posted by Bruce Breedlove (Avalon Inspection Services) about 3 years ago

Patty - I wouldn't feel comfortable relying on someone else's inspection either.  If the inspection was done by a company that I knew and trusted, I would definitely feel better about it, but I would still definitely hire my own home inspector.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 3 years ago

reuben, just ran into this the other day, 106 yr old home.  everything i pointed out the owner...an engineer said i was mistaken.  i asked if he worked in construction? ans: No.  do you know about structures and roofs?  ans: No.  that's all i had to ask, and the buyer started listening to what i was pointing out.  owner claimed the house did not have aluminum wiring...it did entire 2nd floor.

if they choose to stay out of the way that's one thing, but when they come between me and the buyer, rubs me the wrong way.

 

Posted by Stephen Gaudet (Gaudet Inspections) about 3 years ago

Stephen - ha!  I have the same feeling as you.  I don't mind the seller being present as long as they don't interfere.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 3 years ago

REally!  Im the seller.  inspection was done 3 days ago-never notified.  GOod thing I went to the property in Decmeber-the inspector shut my furnace off and never notified me or my agent!!!!

Posted by cathy over 2 years ago

Cathy - It sounds like that could have been a major insurance claim for the inspector.  I'm glad you caught it.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Minneapolis Home Inspections (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 2 years ago

I am a seller and from all I have read I will not attend the inspection. The only issue I have is the buyer's agent wants to let the buyer and inspector in the house and then leave. I don't know either the buyer or the inspector, so I don't like the idea of leaving them in my house alone. If the buyer's agent is there to let them in and stick around then I don't have a problem. The buyer's agent should have an interest in protecting the house.

Posted by Steve Kelly over 2 years ago

As a buyer who went through a home inspection yesterday with a seller present, I can say it wasn't horrible.  Our inspector wouldn't speak loudly or say too many bad things about the house when he thought she could hear.  Most of the problems found were quietly pointed out and later, at our vehicles, discussed in length. 

However... We paid for the inspector out of our pocket to check the house.  He was working for us, not them.  If the seller wants to know what we found out, they should pay for it too.  I don't think I should pay for them to know what we found.  If they want to know, maybe they should pay me half of the cost.  It's only right.  I also believe that the selling agent should not be there.  If they want a copy of the report, they can pay me for it or get their client to do an inspection.

 

Posted by Lisa over 2 years ago

Im selling my mobile home inspection was today paid for by the buyer.  I had a realtor his contractor, an inspector, a termite inspector, a cleaning lady ( buyers realtor friend) another general contractor and my realtor.  I should have been told not to be there I overheard the cleaning lady point out dirty areas in my house, I know my cleaning is very through and often, well she needed a job. what is she going to say oh its so clean you don't need me, same with termite guy he said there were a few droppings on one side of the house but it will cost me 1500 anyway...at this point I'm thinking of backing out to much troubl..

 

POIN BEING SELLER SHOULD BE TOLD NOT TO BE THERE, I WAS NOT

Posted by Lois about 2 years ago

Sure I get why inspectors dont want you there for the sake of the buyer blah blah blah but who is monitoring the buyer and their entire family while they are roaming around your house unattended and then when things go missing or get broken who is responsible then??? Think your realtor is going to pay for any missing items or damage that is caused...guess again...they will say that is what you have house insurance for. So I would say yes as a seller you should be there during the inspection...dont get in the way of the inspection and dont interact with the buyer or the inspector as that can be held against you later...but be a physical presence that is out of the way somewhere so they know you are there.

Posted by Joe about 1 month ago

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