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Sellers Present at Home Inspections: A Bad Idea

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Kevin Paffrath with home inspector Michael Flores.
A home inspection is not just a time for buyers, inspectors, and agents to walkthrough a property. The home inspection is much more than that.

Seeing Themselves in the Home

A home inspection creates an opportunity for a buyer to picture themselves living in the house they’re buying. When I purchased a home in 2012, I clearly remember noticing more nuances of the property each time I went through it; there’s just too much to take in during the initial walkthrough. In my case, the property I was buying was vacant and a fixer-upper, but I became more attached to the property every time I visited it. I also became more acquainted with the house and began to think about small considerations, such as which direction the bed should face and where the TV should hang.

The Condition and Questions

Kevin Paffrath Peeking at the Roof

I like to poke my head where the inspector goes simply to observe the what the inspector sees and be knowledgable when I discuss issues with my client as we review the home inspection report.

The home inspection is, of course, a crucial time for a buyer to feel comfortable with the condition of the property. Buyers, especially first-time home buyers, can be fearful of many issues that are commonly found in a home and it is important to be sensitive of their concerns. The home inspection is the time to lighten the mood. It gives the buyer the chance to walk through the property with a professional who will generally, not only point out defects, but explain the causes and solutions for existing issues. As an agent, I attend all of my clients’ home inspections and I encourage them to be there as well. At the home inspection, I standby if the home inspector needs any help, help clients when they have questions for me, need help measuring, or performing other tasks, and work on my agent visual inspection, a generally required disclosure for single family homes. This way, the buyer has two professionals standing-by to help them with any questions they have.

The Seller

One who hasn’t been a part of a home inspection could likely envision the importance of this time. The buyer is seeking education from professionals in the industry and attempts to familiarize themselves with the home. A seller who is present robs the buyer of both of these. They do so reducing the buyer’s ability to ask blunt questions about the condition of the property and eliminating the familiarization process. When a seller is present, a buyer tends not to be able to imagine themselves living in the home. Instead, they feel like they are intruding and are a guest, and they will behave like a guest.

To put this into other words, here is an AOL Real Estate article:

Cartoon of home inspector.The key advice here is not to be at home when the inspection happens. The home inspector needs to be able to do a thorough, detailed job without interference or interruption, and if the buyer is along for the ride, they must be free to ask critical questions and to point out areas of concern. If the shoe were on the other foot, you know you’d expect the same, but it can be unsettling to observe this process in your own home. So get your home ready and then get out of the way.

Home Inspections for Sellers: What you Need to Know

Here is an excerpt from a home inspector’s comments on sellers at home inspections:

If [the sellers] still don’t want to [leave], 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.

Should the Seller Attend the Home Inspection

My father-in-law to-be and real estate broker Bill Stewart always described the importance of “jelling the deal.” The home inspection is that time for a buyer to solidify their interest in the property. If a seller is present, this jelling process slows dramatically.