Should The Seller Attend The Home Inspection?

By
Home Inspector with Structure Tech Home Inspections

 

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


 

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Show All Comments
Rainer
74,958
Bruce Breedlove
Avalon Inspection Services

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."

October 03, 2010 09:24 PM
Rainmaker
310,403
Jean-Paul Peron
Carova Beach - Living & Working in 4-Wheel Drive
The Outer Banks Real Estate Copmpany

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

October 19, 2010 05:52 PM
Rainer
4,826
David Swartz
Advantage Inspection Service

"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.

October 25, 2010 06:07 PM
Rainmaker
229,481
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

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

October 25, 2010 10:10 PM
Rainer
150,378
Matthew Bartlett
Century 21 Masters/Lic. #01353034

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.

October 25, 2010 11:09 PM
Rainer
74,958
Bruce Breedlove
Avalon Inspection Services

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.

October 26, 2010 12:21 AM
Rainmaker
906,178
Tony Marriott
Associate Broker, REALTOR
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

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

January 20, 2011 01:21 PM
Anonymous
Julie

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. 

February 03, 2011 10:06 PM
Rainer
6,687
Josh Robbins
AirMD

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

February 25, 2011 10:11 AM
Rainmaker
9,073
Chuck Licari
100% Realty, Inc.

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

March 03, 2011 11:26 AM
Anonymous
Patty
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.
June 27, 2011 08:20 PM
Rainer
74,958
Bruce Breedlove
Avalon Inspection Services

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.

June 28, 2011 03:29 AM
Rainmaker
229,481
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

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.

June 28, 2011 06:17 AM
Rainer
26,327
Stephen Gaudet
Gaudet Inspections

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.

 

September 07, 2011 10:36 AM
Rainmaker
229,481
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

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

September 07, 2011 10:11 PM
Anonymous
cathy

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!!!!

December 20, 2011 10:23 AM
Rainmaker
229,481
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

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

December 20, 2011 01:15 PM
Anonymous
Steve Kelly

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.

February 12, 2012 03:59 PM
Anonymous
Lisa

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.

 

March 15, 2012 08:01 AM
Anonymous
Lois

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

September 10, 2012 08:32 PM
Anonymous
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Rainmaker
229,481

Reuben Saltzman

Minneapolis Home Inspections
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