Veteran agents/brokers weigh in on an ongoing debate: should real estate agents attend the home inspection? The answers vary.
Some real estate professionals believe that the home inspector should be alone, while others argue for various combinations of the buyer, the buyer’s agent, the seller, and the seller’s agent. Much of the argument centers around the presence of the buyer’s agent. Some home inspectors believe that the buyer’s agent gets in the way of the inspection and influences their client’s opinion. On the other hand, real estate agents argue that the presence of the buyer’s agent provides an intermediary between the buyer and the home inspector, as the buyer’s agent is then able to request clarification from the home inspector and explain terms to the buyer.
Ultimately, buyer’s agents must decide what they, and their clients, feel comfortable with.
Some real estate agents agree that being present at the home inspection can sometimes influence their clients’ opinions towards or against something. It might even influence the home inspector. “I no longer attend any of my inspections,” says Brian Hurt, sales executive at Keller Williams Premier Realty. “I tell my clients that what may be daunting to them may not be a big deal to me. But ultimately, they are the ones who have to live with it, not me,” says Hurt.
“The current opinion is that the buyer’s agent is not the one buying the home and should not influence the buyer about what home defects are acceptable or non-acceptable,” explains Belinda Spillman, Realtor from Colorado. “At this point in the contract, the agents should merely be the mediators for the buyer and seller. The ultimate decision is theirs, not the agents’,” says Spillman.
“I’m not present at home inspections,” says Kristin Moran, Texas real estate agent. “It leaves it open for interpretation of what the inspector finds.” She suggests that the buyer be there to ask questions to the home inspector directly, without a middleman. Some real estate agents feel that if the buyer’s agent attends the home inspection, it can quickly turn into an argument over differing opinions. In some cases, the presence of a buyer’s agent might also extend the time of the inspection by several hours.
“I am usually present for my inspections, but sit and quietly work on a laptop,” says Chris Ann Cleland, Virginia Realtor. “I’m there the entire time, but don’t advise my clients what they should or should not ask for. I like to see whatever the inspectors point out that may end up needing clarification later.” Cleland’s stance shows that there can be a middle ground between staying away from the inspection entirely and shadowing the inspector while he or she finishes their inspection. Other real estate agents agree that being available during the home inspection, but not being present for its entirety, makes the process easier for all parties involved. By being present only towards the end of the inspection and the presentation of the home inspection report, the agent can often review the results of the home inspection while still allowing the buyer to come to his or her own conclusions.
On the other hand, some agents insist on attending the inspection. “I always attend my inspections,” says Gayle Rich-Boxman, a Realtor from Oregon. “There’s a fountain of information in those! Not only do I want to be shown what’s wrong, but learn from an expert so that I can be better informed for the next client,” says Rich-Boxman. She explains that attending home inspections has allowed her to learn more about possible problems within the home and what’s typical for the area. This, she says, makes her a better real estate agent and allows her to better serve her clients.
Of course, whether or not to attend a home inspection is entirely up to the buyer’s agent and the preferences of the home inspector and buyer. The important take-away seems to be that the buyer’s agent should refrain from influencing the buyer’s conclusions about the home inspection.
by Natalie Eisen, Staff Writer, Working RE Magazine