Should the seller attend the home inspection?

Should the Seller attend the home inspection with the buyer? After all, they’ve lived in the home for years and know all of its inner workings. I say, emphatically, “NO!” and here’s why…

Smooth sailing: The buyer, seller, realtors, and inspector all want smooth sailing, without unnecessary waves.

  1. I think Rule #1 for Realtors should be to keep the Seller and Buyer away from each other, at all costs! I have seen at least 10 deals in my time go awry because the Buyer simply didn’t like the Seller, or vice-versa. Maybe it was something the Seller said, or their mannerisms, or it could even have been their hygiene. Looked at another way, when you rent a room in a nice hotel, do you want to know who spent the night previous so you can ask them questions about the room? I wouldn’t want to know ANYTHING about the people who lived in the home prior to me; this is going to be my home and that’s the only picture I want to have in my mind. I think it’s the same for most Buyers.
  2.  If Sellers REALLY want to tell the Buyers all about their home, have them put it in writing. Go for it, make a manual! Just keep them apart so emotions have no chance to escalate, potentially souring the transaction and wasting everybody’s time.
  3. Sellers and Buyers are EMOTIONAL. The inspector’s job is to find deficiencies with the home and put them into proper perspective for the Buyer (and give the home credit where credit’s due). The Seller, on the other hand, often times takes deficiencies personally; this is their home, after all, and how dare you point out her faults! She’s perfect! It can be tricky for inspectors and Realtors to navigate the emotional waters when Sellers and Buyers are both at the inspection. It can be an awkward, tension filled environment. All Sellers are anxoius about the home inspection, and it shows. This is not good for the Buyers to see up close and personal! It’s certainly not good for the deal. Help relieve everyone’s anxiety by keeping the Buyer and Seller apart.
  4. Buyers can’t speak candidly in front of the Seller. Buyers are typically polite and the last thing they want to do is point out a problem with the Seller’s home in front of the Seller. That’s rude! Often times, when the Seller is present, I have to find a “quiet space” where the Buyer can speak to me and ask frank questions. Most times, if this is not possible, I’ll politely ask the Seller to let us speak in private so the Buyer can ask candid questions about the home.
  5. When Sellers and Buyers- and likely their Realtors- all present at the inspection, it TAKES WAY MORE TIME! Most inspections should take 2-3 hours; it’s in nobody’s interest to extend their schedules unnecessarily. Frankly, nobody really has the endurance for a 4+ hour inspection. My goodness!

Here’s what I tell the Sellers who want to be present. “Mr. and Mrs. Seller. In my experience, having done this almost 5,000 times, it is really in your best interests to NOT be present at the home inspection. The home inspection is a time for the Buyer to ask the Home Inspector frank questions about the home; this can be difficult for Buyers when the Seller is present. Furthermore, I’ve seen several deals actually go awry simply due to emotions between Buyers and Sellers. Emotions that have nothing to do with the home at all! Knowing you want to sell this home, I recommend you vacate the home for about 3 hours so we can perform the inspection, and so the Buyer can get a good feel for the home and ask frank questions. It’s really in everyone’s best interests. Trust me!”

Keeping the Buyers and Sellers apart during the process will help ensure smooth sailing for all parties!