Monday, August 18, 2008

Should the Seller attend the Home Inspection?


The Residential Purchase Contract allows the Buyer 10 days to inspect the property. More often than not (in fact, almost always) the Buyer is going to hire a professional home inspector to walk through the home and check all aspects of it with a fine tooth comb. Many Sellers express an interest in being there during the home inspection.

I advise against the Seller being present, for a multitude of reasons.

1. The Seller wants to see first-hand what the inspector finds. This isn't important, as the Buyer is required to provide the Seller with a copy of the inspection report. Most inspectors are more than willing to answer questions about anything in the report which is confusing or otherwise unclear.

2. The Seller wants to be able to answer any questions the home inspector might have. This isn't necessary, as the home inspector has seen hundreds of homes and knows what he is looking at/for. If you have a particular switch or other feature which is different from standard, you can leave a note about that one item.

3. The inspection process can be very personal for the Seller, who often feels anything the inspector finds as a personal attack on his/her homeownership ability. It puts the Seller in a very defensive position, which makes for a less-than-friendly encounter. That's not in anybody's best interest at this stage of the game. Remember, if you're negotiating from emotion, you're probably going to lose.

4. For the Buyer, this process is 50% finding out about the house and 50% negotiating strategy. If the Seller is present, the Buyer will not be allowed to think & speak freely. Instead of saying "that's a non-issue – we were going to replace the cabinets anyway", you'll hear "Oh really, the cabinet isn't level – sounds like a major problem." The Buyer will do everything he can to make the seller nervous.

5. The Inspector also won't feel comfortable speaking freely. You won't hear him say "most of the newer homes in the Valley were built this way. It's not an urgent matter, but you'll probably want to keep your eye on it." Instead, you'll hear "That's really not the best way to do it, as it allows the possibility for moisture to get inside the wall."

6. Just by being there and getting a chance to talk to everybody, the Seller will oftentimes tip his hand about what he's prepared or willing to do. Obviously the Buyer is going to ask for at least that much.

We've been at an inspection where the Seller was adamant about not fixing a broken window, almost to the point of yelling at us. As we left the inspection, our Buyer remarked "I'm not sure if I should ask him to fix the window or cancel the contract, just because he's such a jerk."

We've had another inspection where the Seller heard the inspector pick the home apart. Our Buyer didn't think any of it was major, and he was getting the home at a good price, so he was only going to ask for one or two items to be repaired. A few days later the listing agent emailed me to say that the Seller had already addressed just about everything on the report.


Sellers, I know you WANT to be at the inspection. But in reality it's probably not in your best interest. The odds of doing more harm than good are stacked against you.

Your doesn't like sellers present at home inspections Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

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