Sellers at the Buyer's Inspection?

By
Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Results Realty

I was pondering this, while my buyer's inspector was prodding around a property.  Moments before, I had talked with the sellers briefly as they packed up their child in order to disappear for a while.

The sellers were very nice people, and I'm sure we would have had fun hanging out and talking about our kids and such while the inspector visited parts of their home they had never likely seen themselves.  But they had alternate plans for the morning... and that was cool, too.  I knocked out a few emails... and pondered. 

Should Sellers attend the Buyer's Inspection?

There are some very good reasons that sellers might want to be there... and a popular reason that the sellers and their agent often skip it...  And there are a couple of reasons that buyers would object, and a reason or two that buyers might welcome the sellers at the inspection. 

One thing to get out of the way...  The inspection is generally the property of the buyer.  They don't have to share it with the sellers (except if they are using it to ask for something from the sellers).  Since the buyer contracts it and pays for it, they own it and can choose to use or not use the info.  I have had buyers sell the inspection, or even give the inspection, to the seller if they chose not to pursue the property.  But there isn't a requirement... 

Why shouldn't a Seller be at an inspection?

Like I said, from the perspective of the seller (or their agent) the popular reason is "deniability".  If they are there, any defect they become aware of has to be disclosed.  I have been told by more than one agent that they wouldn't look at any inspection and didn't even want to hear it discussed... especially REO agents. 

And if the home in question has deferred maintenance, or is older, there will likely be some things the seller doesn't want to hear.  And in some cases, the sellers aren't really prepared to hear that something they have gotten used to is actually a real problem. 

From the Buyer's perspective, the seller knowing that the home is in great shape with no real issues can impact their negotiating position for dealing with anything did come up.

But there are reasons a Seller might want to be there...

For a seller with a newer home... especially one in great shape, being there can be a great thing.  They get to hear from the inspector that everything looks ok.  Even if they don't get the report, they will have an idea of what the buyer is going to hear. 

For a seller with an open mind and a little emotional detachment, the inspection can be an eye opener.  And if the deal falls through, they will have a very good idea of why.  They will also be in a better position to deal with the issues that could derail a future deal. 

My favorite reason for a seller to be at the buyer's inspection is that, if the buyer asks for a repair or other concession, they have a much better idea of exactly what the inspector found objectionable. 

 

I have been to a lot of inspections, some as a representative of the buyer, others on behalf of the seller.  I have had sellers that attended, and buyers that didn't want to attend.  I have had buyer's agents that were shock I was there, and some that were thankful. 

What it boils down to is that I feel the seller and their agent need to decide if the seller or the agent should be at the inspection based on the personality of the seller and the condition of the property.  They shouldn't let tradition get in the way of the best business decision.  And sellers do have a right to have a representative at the inspection.  It IS still their property.  However, neither the seller, nor their agent has the right to listen in on any private conversation between the buyer, their agent and their inspector... 

Overall, it is a great learning opportunity for the seller or their agent. 

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

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  1. Cheryl Ritchie 04/25/2010 09:03 AM
  2. Monique Hailer & Todd Combs, PA 04/26/2010 07:59 PM
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Rainer
201,427
Frank & Jodi Orlando
Frank & Jodi Orlando Get Us A Home Realty Atlanta Homes Sale - Cumming, GA

To me it does not matter, I'm familiar with current buiding codes for most areas. If sellers are there, so be it...

Apr 25, 2010 09:01 PM #88
Rainmaker
148,285
Home Design
Alpharetta, GA
Home Design and Real Estate

Hey Lane, congrats on the featured post!  I discourage my sellers from being at a home inspection because in the past I have had problems with it.  It can lead to arguments and wreck deals.  No Thanks!!

Apr 25, 2010 09:15 PM #89
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Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 800-610-7253 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I typically only attend the inspection if I'm the buyer's agent though I can see some of your points.

Apr 25, 2010 09:29 PM #90
Rainer
39,399
Shawn Murray
RE/MAX The Producers - Omaha, NE
Omaha NE - 402-250-7869

I to have been to many home inspections.  I would say to let the sellers leave the home at the time of the inspection.  Like you said, if they wnat a copy, they can buy it.  Also, if they do not know about a problem they would not have to disclose it but once they do know thye have to.

Apr 25, 2010 09:31 PM #91
Rainmaker
744,263
Jackie Connelly-Fornuff
Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY - Babylon, NY
"Moving at The Speed of YOU!"

I can see both sides to this. I don't think the seller should be there but their agent should be. When we bought our house a few years back, the seller was there but she stayed out of the way. Her agent was not there but ours was.

Apr 25, 2010 09:33 PM #92
Rainmaker
92,120
Lynn Johnson
Coldwell Banker Home Connection - Owatonna, MN
Owatonna, MN Real Estate

Lane - Interesting points.  The topic of seller attended inspections has not really been an issue in our area.  I can see the validity of your points, but I believe it would be emotionally difficult and perhaps detrimental to the transaction for sellers to attend the inspection.  I advise my sellers to be away from the home during the inspection.

Apr 25, 2010 09:53 PM #93
Rainmaker
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Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - Fleming Island, FL
Your Fleming Island Relocation Agents.

Lane, I attend inspections when representing the Buyer and come near the end if it's our listing. I do like to hear first hand what the inspector has to say. The seller there? That's a risk I prefer not to take. I don't know the Seller if I'm representing the Buyer, or the Buyer if representing the Seller. If there's a personality clash or if the Seller is sensitive about their home flaws, then it can go downhill. Also, for the reason in the story in Kevin's post at #61, it's better to avoid contact between Sellers and Buyers during the contract time.

Apr 25, 2010 10:17 PM #94
Rainer
29,963
Christopher Currins
CBC Home Inspections - Godfrey, IL
Metro East Home Inspector - IL.

Lane you wrote, "I have had buyers sell the inspection, or even give the inspection, to the seller if they chose not to pursue the property."

Are you saying sell, or give, the inspection report? I hope not.

Apr 25, 2010 11:15 PM #95
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Debe Maxwell
www.AtHomesCharlotte.com | Savvy + Company Real Estate - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Hi Lane!  Well, I had an experience this week that my seller didn't wish to leave.  I encouraged her to do so but, she insisted upon remaining.  As it turned out, the buyers were uncomfortable as they wanted to do their measuring and have their inspector to themselves.  Luckily their agent told them that I had encouraged her to leave but, had insisted on staying and 'working' while the inspection took place.  They wound up being okay with it in the end but, it was not what I would advise.  I agree that the inspection belongs to the buyer, whether or not the seller still owns the home.  They don't want outside influence--especially if the seller is in 'love' with their home and when the inspector mentions ANYthing that may be wrong, those in love tend to get bent out of shape, making it uncomfortable for all that are present.

I've also been with buyers on an inspection when the sellers were present--they said to me following the inspection that they didn't feel comfortable asking more probing questions to the inspector for fear that they would offend the seller. 

So, I am not fond of sellers being present but, then again, there is never a transaction in this business that is just like another one and we always roll with the punches, dealing with situations that don't seem 'routine' and move on, right?!

Apr 26, 2010 01:30 AM #96
Rainer
34,816
Lydia Puller
Alain Pinel Realtors, Marin County Luxury Short Sales - Mill Valley, CA
Buying and Selling in Marin, Solano & the East Bay

I'm 50/50 on this but typically in my area the Seller dont attend the buyer inspections. What's even worse though is when the Seller is there during an open house!

Apr 26, 2010 01:59 AM #97
Rainmaker
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Donna Harris
Donna Homes, PLR - Austin, TX
Realtor, CDPE & ASP - Hill Country Lakeway Austin

Personally, I feel the seller should NOT be present at the BUYERs' home inspection. Homes in Texas are sold "as is" and inspections are for the knowledge of the buyer. If the buyer wants to ask for a repair, the seller can call the inspector for clarification purposes if need-be.

But also, I don't like buyers and sellers being in the same room together. Too much emotion gets involved and it can turn ugly. This is why they have two separate closing times scheduled and keys are not directly exchanged. 99% of my transactions have the buyer and seller NEVER talking or meeting.

Apr 26, 2010 01:40 PM #98
Rainmaker
465,188
Jeana Cowie
RE/MAX Real Estate Limited - Paramus, NJ
Broker Associate, ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES

Lane,

This is such a negotiable topic, there is no right or wrong answer.  I think the amount of stress the inspection can be for a seller is huge. So, it is best if they are not present. This way the buyer, agents & inspector can feel comfortable during the inspection. However, I have had times where the seller is present and I've found it to be helpful.  Sometimes the inspector has questions or can show the seller something negative that might not be so easy to understand in a typed report that does not include photos.

As a listing agent or a buyer's agent, I am always present. I want to know any deficiencies of the home immediately. I have noticed many listing agents do not attend.

Apr 26, 2010 03:27 PM #99
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Tammy Lankford
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Your Lake Sinclair Expert (706-485-9668)

I've been to many as the listing agent, all mine when I'm the buyers agent.  Only have had sellers their once and it was due to health reasons and she was not able to leave her home without assistance, and she didn't say one word to the inspector after, hello and just help yourself.

Apr 26, 2010 03:36 PM #100
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Anthony Hitt
Engel & Voelkers - Manhattan, NY
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

As the listing agent, I am almost always at the inspection. I've found the written reports can make things sound worse that they usually are -- and I like to hear exactly how the inspector presented his/her findings -- not to mention the potential buyers reaction to those findings. This give me valuable insight to share with the sellers when and if a request is made of them based on the inspection. That said, I advise my sellers to NOT be there -- very few good things can come from their presence and so many negatives can and have. If we need them, I know how to reach them.

Apr 26, 2010 08:52 PM #101
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Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Thank you for all of the comments. 

One thing I am curious about.  Several commentors have stated that they don't attend (or allow sellers to attend) for liability reasons.  What do you feel is the liability?

Just wondering...

Apr 26, 2010 09:58 PM #102
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Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Lane:  I have heard of cases where the seller or their Realtor was at the inspection, and... when the buyer closed on the home, and then found that the inspector had missed something... they accused the seller or the Realtor of distracting the inspector during the inspection... resulting in the inspector missing one or more items that he/she might otherwise have noticed.

Apr 26, 2010 10:03 PM #103
Rainmaker
351,538
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

I have never had a seller attend a home inspection and I would not like it if they did.  I want the buyer to be able to have an open discussion with the home inspector.

Apr 27, 2010 02:04 PM #104
Rainer
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Catina Wright
Lake & Land Realty - Rocky Mount, VA
Your franklin county va expert

Lane, Great post. I always attend my buyers home inspections even if they are unable to be there I still go. My thoughts regarding sellers being there are simple...I dont think that they should be there because if the home inspection is paid for by the buyers then it's there information to do with as they please. I think that if the seller is there then the buyers may not ask the really important questions regarding the home for fear of offending the seller's. Just my thoughts! Have a GREAT week!

Apr 27, 2010 05:14 PM #105
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Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Karen - Generally, I sit in the kitchen or living room (whether it is a buyer or seller I am representing) during the inspection.  I don't want to distract or delay them.  I will follow around during the explanation of findings, or respond if asked a question.  But, I did challenge one inspector on a "code violation" he found... I was right, he was wrong.  He was also an alarmist that made a dirty filter seem like the end of the world... 

I also had a seller at an inspection when I was representing the buyer (seller unrepresented).  He was great to have around, and the one defect (yes, there was only one defect) was repaired before the inspector could clear the room...

May 03, 2010 08:41 PM #107
Rainer
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Paul & Bonnie Norris
WIN Home Inspection - Albuquerque, NM

Sellers are much easier to deal with than are sellers agents.  My favorite (not) question comes from the sellers agent who at every turn ask "How is it going".  That question does not help the transaction along, sometimes when forced to answer that question an inspector will answer without having fully thought out their response.  Give the inspector the time and freedom to perform the home inspection.  Let the inspection report speak for the home. 

May 23, 2010 01:48 PM #108
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