A home inspection is a critical part of any home sale, and there are many misconceptions and confusion surrounding it. One of the most frequent questions our Realtors get asked is "should the seller be present for the home inspection?" The short answer to that is, "Usually, no." If it is a pre-listing inspection ordered by the seller, they are absolutely okay to be there and should be. But, if it is a buyer paid inspection, it's just not a good idea, and here's why.
First and foremost, a seller's presence at the home inspection can be an inhibitor to its success. "Sellers can interfere with an inspection unintentionally or by trying to help the inspector," explained Tricia Jumonville, Realtor, "and they interfere with communication between the buyer and inspector simply by being there. Buyers do not feel free to ask questions of the inspector." In the interest of being helpful and open, it's easy for a Seller to monopolize the home inspector's time with questions and comments and prevent buyers from asking pertinent questions.
Sellers can interfere with an inspection unintentionally or by trying to help the inspector," explained Tricia Jumonville, Realtor, "and they interfere with communication between the buyer and inspector simply by being there. Buyers do not feel free to ask questions of the inspector."
Keep in mind, a home inspector is hired by the buyer to be their advocate. If buyers are not allowed to conference uninterrupted with their home inspector, or experience a "hovering" seller during the inspection, it can lead to feelings of suspicion about what the seller may be trying to hide or distract from and could potentially cause issues with the final sale. If a seller is not present, buyers will feel comfortable talking openly with their inspector and asking frank questions, ensuring they are fully satisfied with the current state of the home.
Sellers can also bring an unneeded emotional element to the inspection. The job of the inspector is to go through a home meticulously and look for potential issues and flaws, both large and small. They will point them out to the buyer and include them in a report to their clients. This is naturally an uncomfortable process for most home-owners. Sellers have an emotional investment in their home and many memories tied to each room. Hearing negative comments can make them feel defensive or argumentative. They may feel the need to justify or explain away any defects or problems. It is far better for sellers to remove themselves from the process and allow it to remain objective and factually based.
"This is the time for buyers to truly get to know the house, and it's very uncomfortable when the seller is there."
Finally, a seller's presence at the inspection can block the familiarizing process with the buyers. During a home inspection, buyers will spend hours inside the home with the inspector, not only looking at the state of the home but also visualizing their life in that new space. "This is the time for buyers to truly get to know the house, and it's very uncomfortable when the seller is there." Rhonda Riley, Realtor, explained. When sellers are present, buyers tend to feel more like a guest in the home, rather than seeing themselves as the potential new owners. It is critical that buyers be allowed to have time alone with the house, to get to know it and picture what their possessions and their lives will look like there. This will foster an emotional investment between the buyer and the new home and make them less likely to back out of the sale during the option period.
The best way for a seller to survive the admitted awkwardness of a home inspection and ensure its successful completion is simply to stay out of the way. Sellers should prep their home for the inspection, make sure all necessary areas are accessible, and then vacate the premises until the inspection is done. If there are concerns about being able to answer questions, sellers can leave a cell phone number with the inspector. Sellers need not fear the inspection and what it might uncover or feel the need to defend their home from bad comments. No home is perfect, and buyers know that. A home inspection is designed to give buyers peace of mind about the home they are buying and set realistic expectations about potential work that needs to be done, not to tank a potential sale. A home inspection is just one more step towards the successful sale of a home.
Whether buying or selling, be sure to speak to your Realtor about the home inspection and let them guide you through the process. If you do not have a Realtor yet, we have many seasoned agents who would love to assist you.