Columbus Ohio real estate

Should The Seller Attend The Home Inspection?


Reuben Saltzmans old furnaceThis is a Re-Blog of a post from home inspector Reuben Saltzman in Minnesota.  

In Central Ohio the seller is usually not present for the home inspection.  As a seller I think it would be nerve racking and I would get defensive.  I have seen a few Central Ohio home sellers stay for the home inspection.  

"This is the buyer's opportunity to have an unbiased and professional review of their home."; was a comment Ginny Gorman a real estate agent in Rhode Island left on Reuben's post and I have to agree with that.   

A numer of years ago I was at an inspection when the sellers would NOT leave.  They thought their agent should be there too.  I guess maybe she should have been because she could have called them off when the home inspector was up in the attic (just a crawl space) and the seller started yelling that the home inspector get down from there. 

When the first time buyers got so uncomfortable with the way the sellers were acting they went and sat in the living room.  We heard the pop when the furnace exploded in the inspectors face but we did not see it. No one was hurt , thank God. We wrapped up the inspection shortly after that and left.  

Exploded?  Back drafted?  Popped and a ball of flame shot out?  I do not remember how we referred to it.  We heard the pop but did not witness it. We heard the yelling. 

Another inspector from the inspection company came out the next day to examine the furnace and complete the rest of the home inspection.  

The buyers did not close on that property.

Without further ado here is Reuben a home inspectors take on sellers at the home inspection.   Thanks Reuben. 

P.S. that is a picture of a much nicer furnace than the one I am talking about here.  This photo appears on a Furnace Friday post... it was Reuben's old furnace. I hope he is OK with me reusing it.



I’ve written about buyers attending the home inspection, and I’ve written about buyer’s agents attending the home inspection.  I’ve never written about home sellers attending the home inspection because I thought this was a no-brainer... but I received a lot of comments on a member-only post last week that made me realize that many real estate agents don't agree with me.

When the buyers aren't there, great.

If the buyers aren’t going to attend the inspection, I have no problem with the seller being home for the inspection.  In fact, sometimes it’s actually nice because I have someone to talk to, instead of just talking to myself.  I can ask the seller about mysterious stains, I can ask why they installed something this way when it’s usually done that way… come to think of it, when it’s just me and the seller present, I ask a ton of questions.  I get to know the sellers a little, and I often get a call from them later when they’re read to have their next house inspected.  I’ll all for it.

But when the buyer attends...

On the other hand, if the buyers are going to attend the inspection, which is what happens with the majority of my business, I would much prefer that the seller take off.

On the rare occasions when the seller is present, it can sometimes make for an uncomfortable inspection.  It’s tough for a seller to have some stranger walking through their house pointing out defects.  Many sellers get angry or defensive, and oftentimes can’t help themselves from butting in with defensive comments or challenging me.  I stand behind my recommendations and opinions, but it’s a huge waste of my client’s time if I have to spend half the inspection justifying my words and actions to a seller.

I typically show up to inspections about fifteen to twenty minutes early, often before the seller has left yet.  If I get the impression that the seller isn’t planning on leaving, I’ll usually ask a few pointed questions.  "So, are you planning on sticking around for this inspection?” If the answer is yes, I’ll say “Ok… did you know the buyers are coming too?”  At this point, the seller typically gets a shocked look and says they had no idea that the buyers would be coming, and they rush to get out of the house.

On the rare occasion that the seller plans on staying, I feel out the situation.  If the seller says they’ll leave me and my clients alone, great.  If the seller answers the door with a scowl and tells me they’re not going anywhere, I politely tell them that I respect the fact that it’s their house and they can do what they want, but I would prefer they leave.  If they still don’t want to, 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.

The most common reason I’ve heard for people that do want the sellers present is so that they can answer any questions that the home inspector has about the house.  I have a very simple solution: have the sellers leave a phone number.  Done and done.

Note To Home Inspector


Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections - Email - Minneapolis Home Inspections

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Comment balloon 12 commentsMaureen McCabe • September 28 2010 07:33AM
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