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Reuben Saltzman

Should Real Estate Agents Attend The Home Inspection?

Many real estate agents don’t attend their buyer’s home inspection because someone has told them that this increases their liability.  I completely disagree.  It’s their conduct at the inspection that puts them at risk, not their presence.   About half of the agents that I regularly work with attend at least part of the inspection, and almost all of my clients attend the entire inspection.  I’ve identified several different types of agents throughout the years, and I”m going to give my two cents as to whether they should attend or not.

The Annoyed Agent
These agents act like they’re doing their client a favor by selling them a house, and they’re obviously annoyed with their client.  They moan and sigh every time I talk about something that needs attention.  They want to write up an addendum to the purchase agreement and have the client sign it while we’re still at the property, before they’ve even seen my report.  Stay home.

The Know-It-All
These agents have a background in construction or they know a lot about houses, and they want to make sure everyone knows it.  They try to do more talking than I do at the inspection, and they downplay or disagree with items that I say need attention.  These agents give bad information, they seem to be working on their own agenda, and they’re exposing themselves to a lot of liability.  Stay home.

The Critic
These are the agents that don’t know me, and they’re scared as heck because I’m not their ‘usual inspector’.   They’re afraid that I’m going to say something that will blow the deal, they look over my shoulder the whole time, and they try to question everything I say unless it’s positive.  They utter phrases in an annoyed voice, such as “In all my years as an agent, I’ve never heard a home inspector say this was a problem.”  These agents clearly have their own agenda in mind, and they act bitter because the client hired me.  Stay home.

The Other Inspector
This agent attends the home inspection and tries to point out anything the home inspector might have missed, and tries to be a second set of eyes.  This agent has good intentions, but the home inspector shouldn’t need another set of eyes to produce a solid  inspection.  While these agents have their client’s needs in mind, they could be giving their client the idea that they’re just as qualified to inspect the home.  An attorney might tell these agents to stay home – see the note at the bottom of this blog.

The Rookie
These agents may have never attended a home inspection, and they haven’t sold a lot of houses.  They learn a ton about the inspection process, and they use this information to help their current client and their future clients.  These agents should definitely be there to learn.  Come along.

The Hand Holder
These agents show up at the inspection because they’re working with first time home buyers that need their hand held throughout the entire process.  They introduce me to the client, and they tag along for the whole inspection to provide moral support.  They don’t get in the way, and their clients appreciate them being there.  These agents have their client’s needs in mind.  Come along.

The Inspectors Assistant
These agents attend the entire inspection, and they often ask more questions than the client does.  They offer to adjust the thermostat while we’re in the furnace room, they go back inside while we’re inspecting the exterior to make sure a fan is turned on, and they want to peek their head inside the attic while I’m crawling around up there.  These agents have their client’s needs in mind.   Come along.

The Professional
These agents show up because they feel it’s their due diligence.  They don’t tag along with me much, but they want to know about any big issues that come up, and they usually want to understand the issues and see them firsthand.  Sometimes, they’ll just show up at the end of the inspection to see everything first hand.  These agents have their client’s needs in mind.  Come along.

The first three types of agents that I talked about are the types that either have been sued or could (should?) be sued.  They’re doing a disservice to their clients by attending the inspection, and they don’t have any business being there.  Thankfully, these agents seem to be few and far between… or maybe they just never refer me.

Most of the agents that I work with truly have their client’s best interest in mind, and I see no reason for them to be afraid to attend the inspection. Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but I’ve never subscribed to the phrase “No good deed goes unpunished”.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email – Maple Grove Home Inspector

p.s. – About the “Other Inspector” – I read an article about this agent at the NAR web site, and I think this article might be one of the largest factors in agents not wanting to attend home inspections.   My interpretation of this article is “Rotten client does a rotten thing to real estate agent.”  The whole premise of this tale is despicable.  I followed up with the author of the article because the article never tells how the story ended.  I asked if the agent had to pay for the repairs, and the author said “The insurance company paid”.



No responses to “Should Real Estate Agents Attend The Home Inspection?”

  1. The Buyer Should Be There | Reuben's Home Inspection Blog
    August 11, 2009, 6:55 am

    […] The question I get from home buyers that always makes me chuckle: “Can I be there for part of the inspection?” I want the buyer there for the whole thing!  Whenever possible.   It allows me to focus on their particular concerns, it lets me tailor the report to their needs, and it helps them to understand everything a little better. Client Concerns I encourage my clients to attend the entire inspection so we can go through everything together.  I try to give myself a quick tour of the house and inspect the roof before my clients show up.  This eliminates some  ’down time’ for my client.  After that, we talk about any particular concerns they have with the house, and I try to get a sense of what’s important to them… the stuff they might not know to tell me.  Some clients are very concerned that the house is safe for children, some are concerned with security,  others are planning a big remodel and don’t care if the windows in the back of the house are rotted. The Report Having my client attend the inspection helps me to write a much more customized report.  I make suggestions about ways to fix things,  and sometimes I suggest upgrades they could do to the house.  My clients will often ask me to put those recommendations in the report, and I also include hyperlinks in my reports to web sites if I know what my clients are interested in.  For instance, just yesterday I inspected a home for a client who was thinking about replacing his entire boiler system with a forced air furnace, so I included a link in his report to my blog about furnaces vs boilers. When my client’s don’t attend the inspection, I end up having to write a report with my pickiest client in mind – you know, the person that expects every house to be perfect, and gets worried about hairline cracks in the basement floor.  I end up taking photos of a lot of things that aren’t problems and I document that they aren’t problems, because it saves worried phone calls later.  A good example is something call ‘checking’ in old wood beams, which is something that happens to old timbers as they dry out.   If my clients aren’t there to go through everything with me, they might confuse the checking with ‘cracks’ in their wood beams and think it’s a structural defect, when it’s really just something that happens to wood over time, and has no effect on the structural integrity. Understanding When my clients attend the inspection, we talk about the importance of repairs.  Some problems have little impact on the home as a whole, such as a rotted storm door or a deteriorated driveway.  On the other hand, a disconnected furnace vent in the attic is a SERIOUS defect that could cause a ridiculous amount of damage over a period of just one heating season.  Without discussing these items or seeing them firsthand, it’s difficult for buyers to prioritize these repairs. If you schedule an inspection and the inspector doesn’t want you to attend, this is a big red flag.  Find another inspector. Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email – Detailed Buyers Inspections RELATED POST:  Should Agents Attend The Inspection? […]

  2. ron pelto
    September 20, 2012, 6:58 pm

    what if the real estate agent is in dual representation. Is it not wrong for them to show up at the inspection?

  3. Reuben Saltzman
    September 20, 2012, 7:11 pm

    Good question, Ron. I think it should be the buyer’s call in that case.

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