Should the Buyer's Agent Attend the Home Inspection

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Should the Buyer’s Agent Attend the Home Inspection

by Natalie Eisen, Staff Writer

Veteran agents/brokers weigh in on an ongoing debate: should real estate agents attend the home inspection? The answers vary.

Some real estate professionals believe that the home inspector should be alone, while others argue for various combinations of the buyer, the buyer’s agent, the seller, and the seller’s agent. Much of the argument centers around the presence of the buyer’s agent. Some home inspectors believe that the buyer’s agent gets in the way of the inspection and influences their client’s opinion. On the other hand, real estate agents argue that the presence of the buyer’s agent provides an intermediary between the buyer and the home inspector, as the buyer’s agent is then able to request clarification from the home inspector and explain terms to the buyer.

Ultimately, buyer’s agents must decide what they, and their clients, feel comfortable with.

Some real estate agents agree that being present at the home inspection can sometimes influence their clients’ opinions towards or against something. It might even influence the home inspector. “I no longer attend any of my inspections,” says Brian Hurt, sales executive at Keller Williams Premier Realty. “I tell my clients that what may be daunting to them may not be a big deal to me.  But ultimately, they are the ones who have to live with it, not me,” says Hurt.

“The current opinion is that the buyer’s agent is not the one buying the home and should not influence the buyer about what home defects are acceptable or non-acceptable,” explains Belinda Spillman, Realtor from Colorado. “At this point in the contract, the agents should merely be the mediators for the buyer and seller.  The ultimate decision is theirs, not the agents’,” says Spillman.

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“I’m not present at home inspections,” says Kristin Moran, Texas real estate agent. “It leaves it open for interpretation of what the inspector finds.” She suggests that the buyer be there to ask questions to the home inspector directly, without a middleman. Some real estate agents feel that if the buyer’s agent attends the home inspection, it can quickly turn into an argument over differing opinions. In some cases, the presence of a buyer’s agent might also extend the time of the inspection by several hours.

“I am usually present for my inspections, but sit and quietly work on a laptop,” says Chris Ann Cleland, Virginia Realtor. “I’m there the entire time, but don’t advise my clients what they should or should not ask for.  I like to see whatever the inspectors point out that may end up needing clarification later.” Cleland’s stance shows that there can be a middle ground between staying away from the inspection entirely and shadowing the inspector while he or she finishes their inspection. Other real estate agents agree that being available during the home inspection, but not being present for its entirety, makes the process easier for all parties involved. By being present only towards the end of the inspection and the presentation of the home inspection report, the agent can often review the results of the home inspection while still allowing the buyer to come to his or her own conclusions.

On the other hand, some agents insist on attending the inspection. “I always attend my inspections,” says Gayle Rich-Boxman, a Realtor from Oregon. “There’s a fountain of information in those! Not only do I want to be shown what’s wrong, but learn from an expert so that I can be better informed for the next client,” says Rich-Boxman. She explains that attending home inspections has allowed her to learn more about possible problems within the home and what’s typical for the area. This, she says, makes her a better real estate agent and allows her to better serve her clients.

Of course, whether or not to attend a home inspection is entirely up to the buyer’s agent and the preferences of the home inspector and buyer. The important take-away seems to be that the buyer’s agent should refrain from influencing the buyer’s conclusions about the home inspection.

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Comments (18)

  1. I’m the seller and have concerns about the buyer present during the inspection. The home is still mine and I’m not comfortable with them wondering my house for hours. They had that opportunity during the open house or showing. After some comments I read I will make it clear that the buyer is not to be left alone at any time. There will be no one else but the inspector, my realtor and maybe the buyer present during the inspection. Stay off my furniture! I just might be there myself to ensure my home is respected and safe!

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    • I understand your concerns, however it’s typically the buyer is paying for the inspection and wants to know everything about the house before making a HUGE investment. Also, if the buyer is present, they can get further clarification for any questions or concerns about the condition of the house.

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  2. If I was looking at buying a new home, I would want my real estate agent to go with the inspector. That way, they would be able to see things that I may not of seen the first time. Plus, it will also see if I can get the house for cheaper than the price they have it listed at.

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  3. I think this was an interesting take on inspections and whether the agent is there or not. I would have figured it would always be good for them to be there, but I can see how a third party influence would add factors. Interesting stuff, I think which ever the agent wants is fine though.

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  4. In attending the 2015 Ohio Association of Realors Convention; in a core law class it was suggested by attorneys that the selling agent be present but stay out of the way. If the buyers agent does not show up and buyer has brought relatives and friends along to inspection..sellers agent has to supervise visitors. Also it is not the inspectors responsibility to babysit the buyer and friends. WHY would you allow complete strangers to go through someones home unsupervised?

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    • I am the seller. The inspector arrived at 7:50 a.m. I left the house and returned at 12:20 to find 5 people in my home! The inspector, the buyer, and her mother and two uncles. I felt violated. They were sitting around my dining table talking.

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  5. Having the listing or selling agent at the inspection is like having the pharmaceutical sales rep at a visit to your doctor’s office. It’s unprofessional and ill advised. Also, if your inspector is doing a 3 minute elevator pitch at the end of the inspection then he’s probably misleading the client/buyer. There is NO way to recap a 2-3 hour diligent assessment of a home into a short on-site recap. There is no substitute for a careful reading of a narrative report that has been documented with digital photos. THAT should be the industry standard in this day and age.

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  6. I think we always are looking at the buyers side. I do represent buyers but respect the seller and the inspectors position. Buyers have had opportunity’s to view the property with their agent for an extended period of times and also there are the open house opportunity. When an inspector is trying to do their job and the needed interruption of the buyers are not only annoying they defer from the inspector focusing on the bottom line the inspection. Not pointing out every little deal slamming cupboards over and over and to the point of taking a doors off of the setting to empress a buyer that they are doing their job. Oh and if you are not buying the furniture, STAY OFF OF IT. You are not a guest. You are a buyer that have not released your contingency’s and the house in all right is still up for sale with other buyers coming through. Than they are there for 4.5 hours sitting on a seller furniture using the bathroom. It is not the time to do a walk through nor is a time to upset the seller. A walk through is 30 minutes normally. As mentioned above buyers should have a pretty good idea of the home before submitting an offer. Not trying to pull apart a home. A seller does not appreciate coming home and having to clean the house again… because the buyers had run of the house for almost 5 hours. Oh.. and the buyers agent, DO NOT EVER leave your clients with the inspector and you will be back in an hour or two. Not informing the seller or listing agent the buyers will be present without you there.. . Are you kidding me. Some days I am just embarrassed of my counterparts. Really really embarrassed. Do we all pass the same BRE TEST.

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    • I’m a homeowner selling. For the inspection, my realtor failed to tell me that the buyers and their realtor were coming too so I left things somewhat a mess. I mean, it’s only the inspector, right? After I leave my home, all these cars started showing up and only two of them happened to be the inspector and realtor. The prospective buyers “and friends” thought this was a house showing or something. If my realtor had told me that the prospective buyers were coming too I would’ve staged the house. It took four hours to inspect my home, which I think was too lengthy to begin with. What I saw was unprofessionalism by the “buying” realtor who was on her cell phone in her truck and the inspector was outside. These prospective buyers were left inside my home alone, contract or not. After coming home from the three hours from having to leave for the “gang” of people in my home, I found mud tracks in my garden tub which means those shoes tracked in mud all over my $9K carpet that was installed less than 3 months ago and mud on my floors that was newly cleaned professionally. I think realtors should be present at all times and that their clients need to be aware of keeping the house clean and NOT to leave clients alone in the home. A seller like me keeps these $9k carpet cleaned at all times and the floors immaculately clean for buyers. Respect the home you have a contract with and don’t act like it’s yours already when it’s not. The seller still owns the place until the sign says sold. The lesson here: if buyers want to bring friends, family members, and long lost cousins to the inspection, then that should’ve been done during the showings when the seller has the home staged. Also, realtors, don’t leave the clients alone in the home. Inspectors are not babysitters.

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    • Thank you for seeing this through the seller’s eyes. In every home there are checkbooks, cash, jewelry, etc. We asked in advance who would be attending the inspection with no clarification. The inspector arrived at 7:50 a.m. My husband was working from home until 9:30, and the inspector had already completed the exterior, the main floor, the upstairs, and was heading to the basement when he left the home. I arrived home at 12:20 p.m. to find 5 people sitting around my kitchen table chatting! My question is, why were they all still in my home? And who were these extra people? There needs to be some better guidelines here! Inspection time is not party time for the buyers!

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  7. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home
    a bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful blog.

    A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

    - Reply
  8. Thanks for quoting me in your article. This is still a controversial subject in Colorado. The Real Estate Commission has taken the position that we should not be present, but I usually leave the decision up to my clients (buyers) as to whether or not they require my presence. If I do attend, it is just as a witness to the findings.

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  9. I am an agent who works primarily with first-time homebuyers. I always attend the home inspection because in order to negotiate the inspection notice effectively for my client, I have to understand exactly what the inspector said. Also, it is easier to get clarification if I’m right there, rather than calling the inspector several days (and several inspections) later, and asking him to recall details.

    I do not shadow the inspector, but I’m present when the summary or final report is presented to the buyer. Agents need to remember that they never ever make a choice for their clients. I am there as a resource for them and to help them negotiate, but not to make decisions.

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  10. As a Home Inspector in Central Pennsylvania, the Multi-listing agency that controls local agents in this area highly encourages their agents NOT to stay during the inspection. It is a legal liability issue. If the agent says something counter to what the Home Inspectors discusses with the client or includes in the report, and it turns out to be false or leads to an issue after Settlement that the Buyer claims was based on the comments by the Realtor, the Realtor is liable,. Most of the Realtors I deal with show up to make introductions then leave me with the Clients. I usually take between 230 and 280 photographs during the inspection to document my findings and to keep a record of my progress through the inspection. It also helps show the condition of the home if the Owners claim there was damage caused during the inspection. Digital pictures are cheap but sure are handy when needed. My photographs are date and time stamped by the camera when taken.

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  11. I do not know of too many agents that will not want to be present at the inspection. Many sellers are paranoid about strangers being in their house to begin with, and insist that an agent be present during the inspection. I think the idea and premise of inspector and client with no agent is a great concept, however it will never take off in my opinion. Also, if the inspector does not have Supra or electronic access, they will need an agent there anyway in order to gain access to the property.

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  12. I personally don’t like distractions while doing the inspection. I have many things to consider, look at, measure, test and having someone ask questions could make me miss something. Been doing this fro 12 years and at 3000 inspections personally. Most people get real bored in the 3-4 hours I am there and I am running all over the place with different tests going etc so it really doesn’t benefit anyone to be there. If the buyer wants to be there I tell them come at the end and I will do walk around. Also in TN state law I cannot discuss anything with anyone until I have been released to so by the client, so permission would have to be asked to even tell them anything.

    - Reply

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