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Realtors Should Be Attending Home Inspections With Their Clients

Realtors Should Be Attending Home Inspections With Their Clients

Massachusetts Realtors not attending home inspection

In the Real Estate industry it is usually pretty easy to spot a truly dedicated Realtor who has a passion for their business. It is also just as easy to spot a pretender that does as little as they can get away with.

Unfortunately, there are very low barriers to becoming a Realtor. Take a test and you are in business as soon as a broker hires you.

Many agents that get into Real Estate do so because they think it is easy money. After being in the Real Estate business for a while some agents tend to develop bad habits and become very lazy.

As a Massachusetts Realtor who has been in the field for the last 28 years, I have met some agents that are fantastic and others that I can’t believe are allowed to practice. See picture above.

There are so many consumers that do not know the rules of the game and don’t realize when the Realtor they have hired is doing what they should be under their job description.  One area that is quite common to see a Realtor not fully representing their clients best interests is at the attendance of the buyers home inspection.

A good buyers agent should be at the home inspection representing their buyer client. Likewise, the sellers agent should also be there to represent the seller during the home inspection.

In other words both the buyers real estate agent and the sellers real estate agent should be at the home inspection! Each of the parties deserve to have a representative who is looking out for their best interest at the inspection. Take a look at this comprehensive article that describes why it is so important for Realtors to attend the inspection. Don’t fall for the I don’t go because “there is too much liability excuse.” Liability on a real estate agents part is created when you say and do things you shouldn’t. Liability is not created by listening and observation.

A great Realtor who is a true advocate for their client is going to walk the walk and talk the talk. How can you properly represent your clients interest in a home inspection if you are not there to hear what has been said by the home inspector? The answer is simple – YOU CAN’T!

Buyer’s agent attending home inspection

As a buyers agent the Realtor must put their clients interests 1st and negotiate for the best terms and conditions for their client. If a buyers agent is not at the home inspection it makes it far more difficult to negotiate the best terms and conditions for the buyer. Part of attending the home inspection is understanding how potential defects will affect the value, as well as what the cost is to remedy such defects. A buyer’s agents job is not to just drive a buyer around until they find a home. Complete buyers representation is seeing the transaction through until closing.

A good buyers agent who is in attendance can get a feel for how important issues that have arisen are rectified. The job description of a buyers representative includes counseling their clients on what is appropriate and reasonable for the seller to correct. For example, if a safety issue is discovered a buyer is more than likely want to get that fixed especially if it poses a real danger.  There is always a fine line though on what is reasonable and appropriate. Part of negotiating is getting the things that are most important addressed in some fashion. This is one of the many roles of a buyers rep.

Seller’s agent attending home inspection

Home inspection MassachusettsI see buyer’s agents in attendance far more than I see the listing agent being present. This means one thing….There are lots of Massachusetts home seller’s that are getting poor seller representation at home inspections. It is just as important that the seller’s listing agent is present at the inspection. Maybe even more so than the buyers agent!

The listing agent should be there to hear exactly what the home inspector says about the property as it relates to defects. There are two very important factors on why this holds true.

Just as there are good and bad Realtors, the same holds true for home inspectors. There are some inspectors that do an absolutely great job of conveying the facts to a buyer and then explaining how those facts relate to what is or isn’t appropriate.

In my eyes a true professional will make a buyer have a complete understanding of what they are dealing with and whether or not the defect is common for the age of the property and life expectancy of the item in question. On the other hand some home inspectors are “drama queens” and love to make the most minor defect into a catastrophic event.

In the event you have a home inspector that falls into this category a good listing agent in attendance can ask the inspector questions that may alleviate any fears that may have been caused due to the nature in which the issue was explained. There have been plenty of times where I have been able to temper a buyers fears by just asking the home inspector a few simple questions.

Let me make this clear…I do not interfere in any way from the inspector doing his or her job!

The second major reason why a listing agent should attend the home inspection is buyer exaggeration. There are plenty of buyers that love to use the home inspection as a 2nd round of negotiations. In some cases this is warranted and other cases it clearly is not!

There have been plenty of times where I have heard exactly what a home inspector has said about a particular item and the buyer has turned it into something much more involved. Of course when this happens the buyer ends up asking the seller for a credit or a reduction in sale price. More often than not the credit they are looking for is way out of whack with what is appropriate. There have been times where the inspector has said nothing needs to happen and the buyer has still asked for a credit.

This would happen even more if I was not in attendance to hear what the inspector said. When I am in attendance, I can later explain to the seller whether there is a legitimate  need to address an issue or not.


If you are thinking of selling your Massachusetts home when you interview the Realtors make sure you ask them if they will be in attendance at the home inspection representing your interests! If you start hearing excuses on why the agent may not be attending I would give serious consideration to someone who will be there for YOU!

You may even hear from a real estate agent that they don’t attend home inspections because someone has told them that it increases their liability.  That’s hogwash! I completely disagree.  It’s the Realtors conduct at the inspection that puts them at risk, not their presence. Know when to open your mouth and when not to!

Realtors should not be tempted to provide a service that’s outside of their expertise. I am clearly not an inspector and I don’t confuse my buyer or seller clients by acting like one.

One other home selling tip is to make sure you fill out the Massachusetts sellers disclosure statement. Make sure the buyer has looked at it prior to when they make an offer. It is far more difficult for a buyer to ask you to remedy issues from a home inspection if they were already aware of them before they made an offer!

Home inspections are an important part of the home buying and selling process in Massachusetts. It makes sense that both parties have proper representation. In other states it may or may not work the same way. Please keep this in mind.

Related Real Estate articles:

Testing a Massachusetts well when buying a home

Massachusetts home warranty benefits

Massachusetts bedroom misrepresentation with septic systems


About the author: The above Real Estate information on Realtors should be attending home inspections was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 28+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Worcester and Douglas.

{ 55 comments… add one }
  • John Prescott June 30, 2010, 1:26 pm

    Great article Bill. It makes perfect sense that a Realtor should be attending the home inspection as a representative of their respective client. Your point about the Realtor not trying to be an inspector is a valid one as well.

  • Dennis Bailey June 30, 2010, 3:07 pm

    Hog Wash! It is not the job of the buyer’s agent to help inspect the house. Buyers often attempt to hold agents accountable for items missed in an inspection because the agent was assisting (because of their presence). Also, many errors and omissions insurance providers won’t cover issues related to inspections if the agent is present.
    Most importantly, who cares what the inspector verbally says. If it’s a fact, then the inspector is supposed to document it. If it’s not a fact, then it doesn’t matter.
    Finally, should the buyer’s agent be there for the survey? How about the Wood Destroying Insect Inspection? Septic Inspection?

    Leave the inspections to the experts and let them deal with the liability. The inspection report is all I need to assist the buyer in their negotiations for repairs…because it deals with the facts..and only the facts. I tell my clients up front that I don’t attend inspections and why. I have loads of repeat clients.

    Until the NC Real Estate Commission says attendance at a home inspection is a required service, I’ll continue to stay away from them.

    Just because you’ve been doing something for 25 years doesn’t make you right…It could simply mean that you’ve been doing it wrong for 25 years. If you want to assume the liability, go right ahead.

  • Bill Gassett June 30, 2010, 4:33 pm

    Dennis you sound like another lazy agent that is just hiding behind excuses. There is nothing in the article that says the Realtor is there to help inspect the house. In fact it clearly says not to try to do the home inspectors job. In response to your question about whether you should be at the other inspections the answer is a resounding YES.

    This is what GREAT agents do. The agents that are a cut above the rest. The agents that are not on to the “next deal” because it’s more fruitful in the short term for their pocket book.

    I guarantee you I will do a much better job representing my client when I am there vs you trying to read the home inspectors report and trying to dissect what it says. There is nothing like being in person and hearing something 1st hand.

  • Lisa Udy June 30, 2010, 4:55 pm

    Hi Bill!

    I have never missed a home inspection in my 10 years of selling real estate. Also, I don’t think clients should be allowed in a home without a licensed agent. To me, it’s a no brainer, your an agent to help your clients through the real estate process. If you’re not at the home inspection, how are you looking out for your clients best interests?

    @Dennis – Sure you’re not an inspector, but you should still be there to listen to what the inspector says. Just because they write it in a report doesn’t mean you get the full picture. How many times have you misunderstood an email? If you misunderstand the inspectors report, you could leave your clients out in the cold. To me, not showing up to an inspection is just lazy.

    Great post Bill, I totally agree.

  • Marian Bennett June 30, 2010, 6:02 pm

    I attend when I can. I find there are so many nuances to the real estate transation that even something as “simple” as an inspection is not always black & white. These nuances can play a part in the negotiating and ultimately a smoother escrow process. My preference is to attend the inspections and learn from the each inspector, consistent with doing my fiduciary duty to protect my client, whether buyer or seller. If it’s a material fact, it will go in the report.

  • Glenn Roberts June 30, 2010, 6:06 pm

    I agree and disagree with you, Bill. I think it of utmost importance for the Buyer’s agent to be at the inspection. It will eventually be his responsiblitly to negotiate with the seller and he needs to be clear and consise about what the problems and remedies for those problems. That can’t be done for the inspectors report alone.
    On the other hand, the tradition in our area is that the seller and the seller’s agent keep their distance during the inspection. The buyer’s agent by virue of their license is to be responsible for the security and condition of the property while the inspector and buyer are on site. The presence of the Seller and the seller’s agent would intimidate some buyers. I would like to have them take as much time on site and look as in depth as they wish. I rather a buyer get out of a transaction sooner than later.
    Should the seller and seller’s agent not understand the specifics of the inspection requests, they can always call the selling agent or the inspector to clarify.

  • Bill Gassett June 30, 2010, 6:14 pm

    Lisa – Thanks for feedback! You are obviously an agent that gets it! Part of our fiduciary duty is to be at our buyers or sellers side throughout the home sale process. Certainly the home inspection is a big part of that.

    Marian – You bring up a great point about learning. Home inspections can be very educational and can help agents learn about specific problems and how they can be rectified.

    Glen – I would agree with you about the seller not being present but not the listing agent. I know in some states the custom is not for the listing agent to be there but that does not make a whole lot of sense to me. As I mention in the article, I don’t try to be an inspector or interfere with them doing their job but it can be helpful to hear things from the horses mouth rather than going on something in a report or trusting the buyer or buyer’s agent has not exaggerated a problem.

    Thanks all of you for your opinions about Realtors attending the home inspection!

  • Dave June 30, 2010, 6:26 pm

    The whole point is that the Inspector is representing the buyer and the buyer does not need any further representation in the inspection process. There should be privacy between the buyer and inspector with no other influences. It is then up to the buyer to decide on what they will disclose to their agent and if they will look for any further discount. The agents who are trying to sell the home can hardly be expected to be unbiased in their opinion of the inspection or Inspector. I have met way too many Realtors who think they know better than the inspector. We the inspectors, are the ones who are trained. Cannot say the same for Realtors.

  • Ted Gilmour June 30, 2010, 7:00 pm

    Your best intentions are an interference with the buyer’s relationship with their Home Inspector.
    It never ceases to amaze me just how myopic an agent’s perspective can be. Yes you can convince buyers that your presence serves theirs interest but it’s often my experience how grateful buyers are when I ask the agent to give us privacy during the inspection.
    As a home inspector in Vancouver BC Can. I require my clients attend the entire inspection so I can explain everything. My clients are perfectly capable to now inform their agent of their concerns. I would not tolerate the buyer or listing agent interfering (having any input or hovering) with the inspection whatsoever. Agents generally sit in the kitchen or office during the inspection to do their work and I do mine privatly with my client.
    You are so out there; I can’t begin to know how you undermine an inspector’s work and consequently their client.
    I’ve seen first hand and videos of inspectors with agents; agents invariably disagree with the inspector. The inspectors are so afraid to upset the agent they modify their reporting.

    Keep doing what you do because I always like to hear agents tell of their exceptional service.

    Ted Gilmour

  • Bill Gassett June 30, 2010, 8:00 pm

    Dave & Ted – It seems that neither of your understand agency relationships in Real Estate. You both mention buyers agents should not be at the inspection? Like yourself the buyer’s agent represents the buyer! You clearly don’t understand that something happens after your inspection takes place that is called NEGOTIATING! I don’t ever remember a home inspector doing any negotiating. How do either of you possible expect an agent to do a great job representing a buyer if they are not in attendance? Please don’t tell me to read your report and expect me to do as good a job either. There is something to be said for being in person to see 1st hand what an issue entails.

    You guys need to get a back bone is you are afraid of a laymen upsetting the apple cart! Let me put it to you this way…if a home inspector tried to tell me how I should be selling Real Estate and I did not agree with them I would put them in their place real fast.

    Dave you specifically have a misguided view point that all a Realtor cares about is making a sale. A good buyers agent could careless if MR. & Mrs. Jones buys Main Street or Washington Street. It comes down to what is best for the client. If the home inspection reveals items that causes the buyer to want to escape the sale that is perfectly fine with me.

    I want my client to purchase a home that they want. I also want them to buy something that makes fiscal sense. If there are $25,000 worth of repairs needed that effects the value then I need to be able to get an adjustment on the price. Part of my job is to make sure they pay fair market value. My job of getting a buyer a fair price is a lot easier if I am in attendance.

  • Ted Gilmour June 30, 2010, 8:28 pm

    Bil, Bill, Bill…
    I can see you are a man of your own invention.
    As much as you believe you are helping I contend your customers have been hoodwinked into believing you serve their best interest. Like I said Home buyers are perfectly capable of informing you of any concerns they might have. Negotiating what a buyer feels would be a fare price for undisclosed deficiencies is where you step in. It’s not rocket science e.g.: the roof is toast, the foundation is leaking, there is mold in the attic, the chimney is collapsing, 60% fuel efficient Furnace is well beyond design life expectancy, etc.
    Most inspectors use photos to better describe the condition of a particular component.
    The only thing that may require your involvement might be to get a hard estimate to help you negotiate.

    If your buyers hire an inspector who only takes a couple of hrs and doesn’t use photos, I strongly suggest they hire an independent (not dependent on agent referrals) to do a thorough inspection.

    Ted Gilmour

  • Heidi Golff June 30, 2010, 8:33 pm

    When a person hires a full-time, full-service realtor, they should expect full representation. To not represent my buyers every step of the way never even crossed my mind. Frankly, I was shocked at the subject of this blog. It never occured to me that a realtor would be a “no-show” at a home inspection. It doesn’t matter if the property is a $65,000 mobile home or a palatial mansion; it comes down to three things: 1) The Golden Rule…how would I want to be treated if I was the buyer 2) How am I to represent my client if I don’t hear what the inspector says? My clients rely on me to interpret some of the lingo 3) Do I want to be sued because a seller accuses me of allowing my clients to run unsupervised through their home, eating their food, letting the cat out, swallowing all the good drugs from the cabinet, snooping through their drawers, stealing Grandma’s silver, etc.?

    As much as I appreciate the answer with regard to law suits and liability, we can’t let those issues run our business and still retain some pride in our work. Using caution when speaking to the buyers is common sense; ultimately the decisions are up to them.

  • Bill Gassett June 30, 2010, 8:55 pm

    Ted – Hoodwinked? Again you have a misguided view point if you think I don’t work for my client. I don’t fear where my next check is coming from so I never have to worry about whether I make a sale or not. Maybe an agent that does will give poor advice because they need to make a deal. When you are good at what you do that is not the case.

    I want repeat business and referrals not a quick buck. My clients trust me and know I give sound advice based on their best interests.

    You are also making the assumption that every home inspector is great at what they do. In my time in the business I have run into almost as many unqualified home inspectors as I have crappy Realtors.

    You are making the “report” out to be gospel and that certainly is not the case! Ted I am sure you are good at what you do. I am just as sure that you know that there are plenty of home inspectors that miss things, poorly report items, and quote buyers cost of repair when they shouldn’t.

  • Bill Gassett June 30, 2010, 9:07 pm

    Heidi you would be surprised to know how many Realtors skip out on the home inspection. Like you, I want to make sure my client has full representation whether I am on the buyer or seller side of things.

    I find it amazing how some home inspectors “fear” other Realtors being around to hear what they have to say. Just look at the comments here from a couple of home inspectors who believe that every Realtor just cares about making a sale at all costs. So IGNORANT! That would be like me saying that every home inspector just wants the buyer to purchase something else so they get to do a 2nd home inspection.

  • Lenn Harley June 30, 2010, 9:22 pm

    Of course an agent should attend and MANAGE the home inspection. We are not mere agents for the buyer or the seller. We represent them with a duty of fiduciary. The home inspector is not a fiduciary. We cannot protect our buyer or seller client in any inspection if we are not there. An agent who does not attend the home inspection fails to manage the home inspection contingency to the CONTRACT OF SALE.

    The home inspection process begins with a review of the “home inspection contingency” which is an addendum to and part of the Contract of Sale. It’s important to review that contingency so that the buyer, seller and inspector understands the limits of the home inspection with respect to defects and maintenance.

    Items such as a gas furnace with a cracked furnace wall is a defect and should be written as a necessary repair to be done by the seller under the home inspection contingency. However, unless a defect can be identified by the home inspector, the contingency does not cover “maintenance” and therefore, an inspector who writes “have unit serviced by licensed HVAC company” should explain to the buyer that making that note is for the buyer to perform regular maintenance on an annual basis. Without the buyer’s agent at the inspection, buyers assume that whatever the inspector writes, must be done by the seller. Nothing is farther from fact. The seller doesn’t have to make any repairs. The buyer may be able to void the contract, but there are nothing automatic about repairs pursuant to a home inspection.

    If the agent for the seller or buyer does not attend the home inspection, there is no management of the contract and home inspection process. The home inspector is not advised that the “maintenance” comment by the inspector refers to after settlement. The buyer will think that, because the home inspector wrote it, the SELLER MUST HAVE THE UNIT SERVICED BY A LICENSED COMPANY.

    This is just one example of contract confusion that can be avoided if the agent is there to manage the inspection process.

    PROPERTY CONDITION STATEMENT. The agent for he buyer will have the Contract of Sale of which the Property Condition Statement is a part. If the home inspector finds a serious defect in the property, leaking roof, leaking foundation, poorly cooling air conditioning unit, etc., and the seller failed to disclose the defect in the Property Condition Statement, the agent for the buyer will be able to identify the discrepancy. The home inspector cannot.

    The above is just one example of the importance of an agent attending, observing, and understanding the home inspection findings and how the home inspection process and contingency relates to the Contract of Sale.

    Agents do not perform home inspections but we manage the Contract of Sale of which the home inspection contingency is a pertinent part.

    That’s our job.


  • Bill Gassett June 30, 2010, 9:34 pm

    Lenn – You hit the nail on the head. For some reason a few home inspectors have not been taught what agency relationships and the word “fiduciary” mean. I guess some of them believe we are all just money hungry and could care less about our clients. Apparently some of them are also intimidated by our presence at the inspection. You are right about not being able to do your job in the best possible fashion if you are not there. Reading from a piece of paper is a lot different than being there.

  • Dave June 30, 2010, 9:43 pm

    I am not going to argue about what percentage of Realtors only care about the sale. Whether it is 20% or 80%, it is too high. I agree that many inspectors are not providing a meaningful service to their clients. The main reason in my neck of the woods is because they are getting a majority of work from Realtor referrals and have been ‘conditioned’ to have a short inspection and not be overly thorough on reporting (so they are not ‘deal killers’). They do not want to upset the apple cart. They want their next referral and so will do what ever the Realtor wants.

    The facts are that the two jobs are at a conflict. The Realtor is trying to sell a home. The Inspector is trying to report on the current conditions of the home and often if they do their job well, the buyer will decide they do not want to proceed with the purchase because they are unwilling to take on the liability of the deficiencies.

    Independent inspectors tend to be better trained and put a lot more effort into the inspections. They have to, because they do not get referals and because Realtors control 90%+ of the referals, an independent inspector must be sure to blow the socks off each and every client. They rely on referrals from their past clients.

    Realtors are not individuals trained in the construction field. What makes them think that accompanying the inspection will have any lasting benefit to my client. I am not afraid of Realtors. They have a job and I have a job. In my province they are not allowed to interfere in the inspection in any manner (part of their Best Practises handbook) and as soon as I ask for privacy, they must do so.

    As to representing the buyer, it is a pretty weak argument that the vendor is afraid the buyer is going to steal from them.

  • Sandra Mathewson June 30, 2010, 9:48 pm

    I agree with you, I attend all the inspections. I have noticed that first time buyers are easily alarmed over inspection items because they don’t understand and have never owned a home before. I don’t dispute the inspector, but I am there to hold their hand and I do what the inspector recommends “let a professional look at it”. I’ve seen buyers ready to cancel the contract because the inspector said the furnance needed cleaning and routine maintenance.
    I believe the better informed you are about everything in the transaction, you are better off. I think an agent would be worse off going to court and telling the judge “I didn’t attend the inspection and I didn’t attend the closing.
    Thanks Bill!

    Sandra Mathewson

  • Dave June 30, 2010, 9:48 pm

    You can talk about ‘fiduciary’ all you want, but when the buyer moves in and finds a deficiency that was missed by their inspector because he was not allowed to take the time needed to do his job right or was distracted at the wrong time by a comment from the Realtor, it is not the Realtor that will be on the hook. It will be the inspector and their liability insurance.

  • Avi Liss June 30, 2010, 9:51 pm

    Bill, as usual….Spot On!
    Not only does an agent have a fiduciary responsibility to walk their clients through EVERY step of the purchase life cycle (which last I checked includes the inspection), but they would be doing a great disservice to their clients by not being present at such a truly critical aspect of the transaction.
    An inspectors job is to inspect and identify issues…good and bad. But whose job is it to explain to the Buyers why it is good or why it is bad…..Their Agent!
    Fact is Buyers count on their agents….they are professionals…have done this before….and are a voice of reason and explanation in almost every step of the process. Why would you exclude the inspection?
    This is why I always highly recommend you Bill…..Protect your clients….inform your clients…..Do the right thing.

  • Terrie Leighton June 30, 2010, 11:23 pm

    Bill, Bill, Bill,

    I attend inspections whenever possible! Buyers or sellers. I don’t get in the inspectors way, I let them do their job. Questions always come up during inspections. Buyers get nervous. Sellers get squirmy.Why not be available to answer questions. Sellers and buyers can both over react when they are not familair with the process. My job is to explain what the process is and let the inspector work, without to many interuptions.

  • Dennis Bailey July 1, 2010, 12:23 am

    I don’t know how you became “Nationally Recognized” or by whom, but your opinion disagrees with the opinion posted by REALTOR magazine. Calling someone lazy for being cautious is like screaming at someone for not speeding on the highway. …and who negotiates during an inspection…leaves a lot of room for he said, she said. Trying to make yourself look good by calling cautious agents lazy and unprofessional is really not to way to elevate your position in the market.
    I elevate my position in the market by continually improving the service I provide my clients and continuing my real estate education. I’ve been selling since 1996 and hold the ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES, CDPE, and SFR designations. I go the extra mile, but dont’ shoot myself in the foot. Instead of claiming agents should attend inspections, maybe you should point out that you throw caution to the wind and see how that works out for you.

  • Ted Gilmour July 1, 2010, 12:32 am

    Agents believe they are the centre of the whole deal; the buyer is. We all serve the buyer; the buyer calls (should be calling the shots.
    I would say most buyers do not know what their rights are because nobody tells them. That’s where a good agent could be of tremendous service. Buyers believe the seller pays the agent’s commissions so they are grateful for any time the agent spends with them. If they knew they were paying both agents’ commissions they would be furious with the way they very often get mistreated.
    I’m afraid you’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid for too long.
    Leave the inspectors alone to do their job. They don’t need your help, your clients don’t need your brand of interpretation, you are simply conflicted in your fiduciary capacity. Please don’t try to argue that you can play a game of Chess with yourself.

  • Pam Burzynski July 1, 2010, 1:32 am

    Bill, I want to congratulate you on one of the best, most informative blog posts on Real Estate yet. So many blogs are rehashes of the same old thing, but you make an excellent point, and I have never seen a blog discussing this topic. I do attend my buyers inspections. If I don’t attend I have to rely on “he/she said”, but if I’m there I know what they said. Some inspectors in my experience say one thing indicating a minor issue (not a material defect) during the inspection, but somehow on the written report, their butt covering instincts kick in and it is becomes a critical issue on paper. I love septic inspections and have asked so many questions during the inspections, that I am much better at explaining what an inspection entails and some of the issues that can come up. My clients don’t get thrown for a loop on their inspections and are well aware of what can happen, good or bad. It is common practice in this area for the seller and the listing agent to stay away from the home inspection, which I did find odd, but I am going to ask some questions to see how this practice came to be and be present for my Seller’s inspections also. Not only does it make sense, it’s the only way to represent your client. Great discussion –no matter what your opinion — pick any topic you’ll have split opinions.

  • Bill Gassett July 1, 2010, 1:40 am

    Dave – What you are talking about is how things were done many years ago when every Realtor represented the seller. Have you heard of buyer agency? There is no conflict of interest when I am representing a buyer as far as recommending an inspector. The goal is to make sure the buyer gets a great professional inspection. Maybe where you are everyone lacks ethics. That is not the case here. If I am representing the buyer they will be using a very thorough inspector. The fact of the matter like I already have said is I don’t care if they buy Main St or Washington St. It makes not difference to me. I am not trying to” sell” them a home as you say. I am representing them in a purchase.

    Sandra – Of course I agree with you.

    Avi – I respect your opinion especially given the fact you are a Real Estate attorney. Obviously you get it and understand a Realtors role of representing a client includes a vital part of the transaction – THE HOME INSPECTION!

    Terrie – You are doing your job!

    Dennis – I am very familiar with the article you mention in Realtor Magazine. Obviously you did not read it too close. In that case the Realtor took on the role of an inspector and that is ultimately why she was held responsible. I never do anything remotely close to the inspectors job.

    Ted – There is no conflict because we are both working towards a common goal which is to educate the client as best we can so they can make an informed decision. Again maybe where you are from everyone you encounter is a money hungry thief that is hell bent on doing everything they can to make a sale. That is certainly not the case in my world. In fact there have been plenty of times where I have even suggested to a buyer that they not move forward with the sale without getting proper compensation.

  • Brenda Busch July 1, 2010, 2:02 am

    Great article Bill….as a buyer’s agent I always attend the home inspection. The home inspector is giving so much information to your buyer in such a short period of time that it helps to have an extra set of ears and it will make it easier to address any issues that the buyer may have because you have heard exactly what the home inspector has said. As a listing agent, I have had one of the “drama queen” home inspectors that you mentioned and as you said I in no way interferred with the inspection but I was able to waylay some problems by asking some questions to the inspector to clarify a situation.

  • Bill Gassett July 1, 2010, 2:03 am

    Thanks Pam I appreciate the compliments on my article. You are right about having an opinion. Everyone has one and I knew this topic would bring a lot of differing voices. I have always found it curious why some areas have formed certain customs regarding home inspections. For example, you mention in your area the buyer’s agent goes but not the listing agent. In my both can go with no problem although as I mention in the article there are lots of seller’s agents that skip it.

  • Ed Hughes July 1, 2010, 1:47 pm

    Hey Bill, I agree with you 100%…..I go to every inspection whether I am the Listing Agent or the Buyer’s Agent and am amazed when the other Agent involved in the sale isn’t there. I personally hate Inspections because you just never know what the Inspector will find or what style the Inspector has……..but I think that is even more reason to attend.

    Good Post, Ed

  • Shawn Sebring July 1, 2010, 2:08 pm

    Great article, as a home inspector I can appreciate both an agents presence and absence. I will tell you that due to our role in the process, when the agents are not in the home the buyer very often, quickly confides in us as to their unhappiness with their agent. Very often stating that they have had to do all the phone calling etc. and that there agent can’t even bother to show up and let them into the house. I quickly see the agents that are taking care of their clients, either by attending the inspection or by visiting in the first 15 min. of the inspection. That is what I prefer, for the agent to show up at the beginning of the inspection, explain the process, again, to the client (maybe bring their client coffee etc>.) stick around until they see the buyer is comfortable with our process and then head off. We have a good many agents that do stick around for the whole inspection, and we always welcome them along, and very rarely is there ever any concern.

    You make the great point about being at the inspection to better understand what points are being made, that buyers often blow things out of proportion. As they buyer they do have the right to be concerned about the home they are dropping a tone of $ on. With the current market many agents seem to be getting short tempered, having to work more for less sales. Any extra work is to much. I guess to summarize, I would suggest knowing your clients, some like the attention and others don’t want you around. But the agents I hear the best comments about from buyers ARE those that attend the inspection!

  • Mechelle Gooch July 1, 2010, 2:50 pm

    I can’t imagine not attending the home inspection. I never talk or disturb the inspector, until he/she wants to point out something or at the end when we discuss the findings. My buyers will show up the last 45 minutes of the inspection and go over everything with the inspector, with me listening also. It is always good to have a 2nd set of ears. I have represented buyers who after learning about items discovered in the home inspection that had major concerns. These were major problems, but they really liked the house. Sellers were unwilling to make repairs/compensation. I was the one telling them it was ok to cancel the deal, it was a major issue and there would be other houses. If I had just read the report, I may not have understood the issues as well and would have thought it was just buyer’s jitters.

    I am shocked at the attitude of the inspectors in this discussion. I am glad the inspectors I work with understand that we are working together for the buyers to educate and protect them.

  • Bill Gassett July 1, 2010, 5:01 pm

    Shawn you are certainly a voice of reason here from the inspectors side of things. I am guessing that maybe in Canada where one of the other inspectors who has commented resides things could work differently but here in Massachusetts a true buyer’s agent cares about their client and not their own pocket book. I never interfere with an inspector doing their job but my presence there, whether for the buyer or seller makes a difference.

    Michele & Ed – You both obviously grasp the idea of full representation in a Real Estate transaction!

  • Mary Corrigan July 1, 2010, 7:25 pm

    I ALWAYS attend home inspections, I am surprised to hear that Realtor’s even consider not doing this.

  • Rory Warren July 1, 2010, 7:30 pm

    You’ve made some good points and I agree with what you have said. Nothing is more aggravating and time consuming than the long, long, long phone call from the agent who didn’t attend the inspection. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I only have a few questions; this won’t take long at all”. 45 Minutes later I’m still trying to explain why I have called out the furnace as defective. If the agent was at the inspection they would have seen the defect up close. No amount of discussion on the phone and photos can equal seeing it in person. Period.

    As for your way of dealing with your clients, I’ve seen it many times and I agree with you. They deserve the level of service you provide. No one wants an agent to help with the inspection or to interfere. I don’t tolerate either of these scenarios. What I do tolerate, in fact I welcome it, is an agent who can intelligently translate what I am saying. There are times that a buyer just doesn’t get it. I pride myself on my ability to communicate in a calm and non alarming manner but there are times when I just can’t seem to get the message across to my clients. Then the input of the buyer’s agent is welcome and encouraged. No inspector should be upset or intimidated by the attendance of a buyer’s agent or seller’s agent. They have a right to be at the inspection., and in my opinion an obligation. They both represent their clients in a transaction involving a large sum of money. Missing the inspection can not be in their client’s best interest.

    As for a buyer’s ability to communicate defects to their agent I rarely see a client who can do this well. No surprise ; it’s not what they do. Why not help them out and position them to succeed in this transaction. Extraordinary service. That’s what separates the good from the great. Why not be great?

  • Donna Bigda July 2, 2010, 12:02 am

    Bill – Great discussion and debate on our duties to our buyers & sellers during home inspections. I think the inspection is one of the most important contingencies in the sales contract and have seen far too many transactions almost fall apart when there is not clear and concise communication between the buyer’s agent & listing agent when it comes to negotiating items that come up as a result of a home inspection.

    Here too we have our share our home inspectors whose interpretation of repairs and maintenance can scare the daylights out of a buyer and needs the advice and counsel of their buyer’s agent to educate them during this process.

    As a listing agent it’s important to know what the inspection issues are so as to prepare the sellers for what items may possibly be addressed by the buyer.

  • Sandra Mathewson July 2, 2010, 3:47 am

    Let me add to your comment about the article in Realtor Magazine. We DO NOT make ourselves out to be a professional inspector, accountant, attorney in any way. We are the source of the source, never the expert. I have heard of Realtors that point out defects during an inspection , and what did they just do? They just made themselves into an inspector….And if anyone could comment at an inspection but doesn’t….I am a former licensed building inspector in the State of Florida, and I still keep my mouth shut.
    I am a Buyers Agent and I am there to support my buyer, represent them and make sure they get the right advice and information.

  • Heidi Golff July 3, 2010, 2:43 am

    I still say let’s go back to the issue of allowing buyers to run rampant through someone’s property. If I was a seller and found that no realtor was present during the home inspection I sure would perceive it that way! No once will ever be able to accuse my buyers of bad behavior. No one will be able to accuse my sellers of paranoid or vindictive behavior. I prefer to never be in a position of liability because I allowed unsupervised access to someone else’s home. Before you jump on the band wagon about prequalifying buyers, keep in mind that they are already prequalified enough to be in escrow. For my sellers, they are assured of my presence. Let’s get back to the issue of full service. No one hates sitting at a home inspection more than me but my buyers and sellers will never, ever, feel like I wasn’t there for them every step of the way. Either represent your people fully or cut your commission.
    2 seconds ago

  • Jason July 3, 2010, 9:48 pm

    Having inspected homes for 6 years, I agree with Shawn – “I can appreciate both an agents presence and absence”. More often than not, Realtors learn from the process and can see first hand why an issue is important and why it is not. It’s pretty common that an agent has mis-informed our client a certain item wasn’t ‘that big of a deal’. Had they attended the inspection and seen something first hand, their advice would be more accurate and more in line with the inspector. A good experienced agent knows which items are important. Most of the agents I work with show up for the first 15 minutes and many come back at the end. I don’t mind a final walk through with them, it limits my liability by all parties seeing everything first hand and their questions are answered on the spot. It also helps the inspector with frivolous accusations like “the furnace worked before you touched it or you didn’t test it”. I’ve had agents say that their handyman said breakers were turned off and that is why the 22 year old air conditioner didn’t work. (of course I take pics/videos of electrical panels and appliances to prove proper inspecting was followed 😉

    Overall, I would say there is great benefit when we all work as a team. It limits liability, prevents accusations and fosters a smooth transaction. It is only an issue if you let it be one.

  • Bonnie Westbrook July 4, 2010, 3:20 pm

    I can’t understand why an agent would not be at a home inspection with their buyer, as you stated so eloquently Bill. Buyers often get alarmed at routine items in the inspection and really go ballistic over major repairs. Without being there to solve the problem, negotiate repairs, or explain that we need further expertise to see the situation clearly, how can they make a decision wisely about going through with the transaction? We consider this one of the major hurtles to closing the sale, why would we be missing in action for our buyer?

  • Lottie Kendall July 8, 2010, 2:00 am

    Hi Bill — nice to see you here, as well as on Active Rain! I agree with this article; I always attend the property inspection. When representing the buyers, I have them attend too; their job is to follow the inspector, making sure they understand what is being said. The written report is great, but verbal comments can help a buyer understand what’s important, what’s urgent, what’s likely to be costly, what’s a $5 item to replace, etc. Especially for first-time buyers, the inspection can be very reassuring, and often the first inkling on how to maintain a home.

  • Matt Stigliano July 8, 2010, 5:13 pm

    Bill – I had this one bookmarked and almost forgot to stop by and chime in. Agent not at a home inspection? Shame on them. I feel bad for their client. One of the inspectors many of my buyers use is (in my opinion) absolutely fantastic and I trust him to give them the best inspection and report possible. He’s excellent with my clients and is a gushing fountain of house information. He goes above and beyond for clients and because of that, I would hire him to inspect my own home.

    Would I leave him to do the inspection alone with my clients?

    Hell no.

    I am at every inspection and there is a ton of reasons why. First, my clients. They hired me to do a job and part of that job is to be a coordinator as well as be there with them through the process. A little time out of my day to do what I consider part of the job? Priceless. I’ve had more than one client thank for coming to their inspection and mention that other agents in the past didn’t do that.

    Second, I learn a ton about homes, codes, electrical, plumbing, foundations, carpets, appliances, drywall…the list goes on forever. Why would I not want to be more educated on the subject?

    Third, inspectors, like anyone else can make mistakes or forget things. Always nice to be there so I can ask, “Hey, did you check that AC unit, I noticed some rust…” (or whatever the problem might be). Although the inspectors I’ve worked with have been detailed and beyond excellent, that doesn’t mean they can’t overlook something that I might notice while walking through the house.

    Can’t imagine not going to an inspection – for my clients and for myself.

  • Bill Gassett July 9, 2010, 12:05 pm

    Matt of course I agree with all your points 100% about our role in the home inspection process. You summed it up well….it’s part of our job to represent our clients.

  • Jane Peters July 11, 2010, 6:27 pm

    It is an absolute necessity for both buyer’s and seller’s agent to be at a home inspection. We are an extra set of eyes and ears for our clients and it helps put things in perspective. Most inspection report, because of the legal ramifications of not pointing things out, make the home look far worse than it actually is. Reading between the lines can avoid unnecessary friction between the two parties.

  • John Miller July 11, 2010, 8:22 pm

    Hi Bill, I’m on with Glenn – no seller’s or their agents needed or WANTED while my buyer and their inspector(s) are legally on the property. In my area it is not common for the SA or seller to be on the property. In 9 years I’ve had one SA attend an inspection, uninvited. SA made a casual contact with me and continued directly to make a more pointed contact with my client and the inspector(all of us in the same room). I thanked SA for the interest, but help was not needed and I’ll call when we are done-SA departed. Why would you want to put your buyer and yourself in that position?? Buyers & sellers are not usually in this arena and ‘casual & friendly conservations’,(especially w/a smooth talking agent), can reveal information you don’t want sellers to know, they don’t have the right to know and can lead to a potentially strained relationship with your client trying to explain any off the cuff statements by the SA.
    SAs should have already been thru the property – probably several times and already have strong ideas about what issues will be forth coming on the inspection report. In addition, be able to talk over the phone with the buyer’s agent about those issues. Yea there are issues that are unforeseen and discovered, hence the reason for the inspection. The SA can go look at these issues if necessary. If necessary I’ll attend(w/o buyer) and try to see that we agents have the same understanding of just what the issue is. Our clients usually expect us to handle everything and do not want to talk to ‘the other side’. Those that are willing – ‘casual and friendly conservations’………..! So, again, why put anyone in that position??
    Hope business is good for everybody, keep safe showing those properties.

  • Bill Gassett July 11, 2010, 8:52 pm

    John I disagree with your position, especially what you mention about talking with your client. The purpose of a listing agent being at the home inspection has nothing to do with engaging the buyer. A listing agent is there specifically to represent their seller clients and nothing more. Home inspections are the biggest stumbling block to any sale. It makes sense that the seller is represented.

    This is no different than the archaic way all of us Realtors used to do business back in the 80’s when there was no “buyers agency” and everybody represented the seller. Why all of a sudden would the seller not be afforded representation at a home inspection? Both parties should have representation in what is a major part of a transaction. There is a big difference to merely being in attendance to creating issues with the home inspector or buyer.

  • American Home Inspector Directory July 12, 2010, 3:05 pm

    I have been in the home inspection business for 11+ years and in construction for 25 + years. I have built and inspected everything you can think of. I read and write a lot of blogs. I always enjoy reading something new and relevant. Well done nice blog.

  • Jim Mushisnky July 23, 2010, 5:00 pm

    Hi Bill,
    I feel that the real estate agents should attend the inspection. I also feel the context of their presence is to observe their buyer and the buyer’s reaction to the home inspection.
    As many already know, there is a lot of information presented during the home inspection. The buyer may be tired, distracted, overwhelmed, or simply didn’t understand what the home inspector said. I have been impressed by a few real estate agents that pay attention to the buyer’s reaction and interrupt with a simple question like, Does that make sense to you?, Did you know what the inspector means?
    The downside are the real estate agents that start a debate taking the opposite side of the inspector’s comments. This appears to distract and frustrate the buyer, especially if it is an issue that may not be important to them.
    Certainly no absolute position on this issue. Using experienced and reputable professionals for real estate agents and home inspectors gives the buyer and seller a better chance for buying/selling the property.

  • Janie Coffey August 4, 2010, 2:10 am

    In our area, the inspectors seem to go hog wild with estimates to repair to CYA themselves to death. If you, as either buyer or seller agent are not there, you are not able to help in the negotiating phase, if it becomes necessary, as you have no defense to either say the estimate is justified, or could be overly stated. I was at one home inspection when the listing agent went in and out (to the gym, to the dry cleaners, etc.) while I stayed and saw everything that came up.

  • Heather Staas August 7, 2010, 6:28 pm

    As a buyer, I am uncomfortable having the influence and presence of any agent during the isnpection. I would be grateful to an inspector that asked an agent to give us privacy during the inspection process. I would prefer that the inspector and myself have full comfort in discussing privately each area of the inspection with no outside influence. I am paying for the inspector’s expertise and opinion; I don’t need someone else butting in with questions to ‘temper’ the opinion given. If the listing agent wants to know what defects are in the home, they can pay for thier own inspection before listing the house. I don’t want agents there that might start worrying the sale won’t go through. And I don’t want my inspector worrying that they might not get referals if they come across too strong for the agent’s liking. Too many hands in the pot. As a buyer, I want one-on-one discreet dialogue.

  • Bill Gassett August 7, 2010, 11:00 pm

    Heather that would never happen with any sale I am representing because the fact of the matter is there are two parties in the transaction that deserve representation. Years ago every Real Estate agent represented the seller and frankly that was ridiculous as buyer’s deserved to have someone in their corner. This is no different. I am sure if you were selling a home you would want someone there to listen to what was being said. There is a big difference from listening to interfering with the process.

  • Robert October 12, 2011, 8:05 pm


    You forgot to mention that you should attend the meeting with the lender for pre-approval, formal loan application, oversee the title company for the title search, meet with buyers attorney and supervise the move after closing.

    The buyers hire a professional to do a job and unless you are a professional in that field, it is not your place to oversee, supervise or advise them. That is of course unless you are looking for a lawsuit.

  • Bill Gassett October 12, 2011, 8:13 pm

    Nice try Robert but the last time I checked a Real Estate agent wouldn’t need to be at or over oversee the things you mentioned as far as negotiating the ultimate sale price of the transaction. Anybody can be sued for anything the moment they walk out their door every morning. Hiding behind that line of thinking is a very poor excuse. You are at the home inspection to listen and nothing more.

    How come you didn’t put your website Robert? Don’t want anyone to know what you opinion is about giving stellar service to your client or you just don’t have one?

  • Kim Nwachukwu July 22, 2012, 5:22 pm

    As the buyer’s agent I do not want the seller, or the seller’s agent, present during a home inspection of any kind, nor at the end when the inspector presents his report to the buyer. The buyer and I need time to thoroughly review the reports in order to prioritize repairs or credits without the seller or their agent interjecting up front what they will or will not do, or saying “no-you’re wrong, that works just like it is supposed to work”. Nope, don’t want them there at all.

    I encourage the buyer to meet with me and the inspector at the end of the job after the general inspector has prepared his reports and summary. While a buyer can certainly hire any inspector(s) they choose I have a roster of good inspectors that I refer to on a regular basis and who can print their reports on site. These inspectors call me about an hour before they will be finishing up so the buyer and I can meet them at the property and listen to the inspector present his findings. It is a very, very rare occasion that I don’t attend this presentation, and I do agree that this is important. I disagree, however, that the buyer needs to attend the entire inspection – a good inspector will be thoroughly doing his job and I want him to pay strict attention to that job, not the buyer who would only be in his way. If the general inspection turns up deficiencies that might best be reviewed by a field specialist, like an HVAC, roof or pool contractor, then yes, I would encourage the buyer to attend those – they are not as lengthy and they will have an easier time watching exactly what that contractor does and what that contractor checks.

    Buyers attending the entire inspection process are wasting their time and have the potential to waste the inspectors time. They need to attend at the end of the job when the findings can be delivered in a professional manner and the inspector can take them and show them his findings – not what he did to obtain the findings.

    Occasionally a buyer has a schedule conflict and cannot attend – I agree, it makes the process much more difficult. I always encourage buyers to find a way to meet with the inspector – it’s important, I agree with you on that part.

  • Bob Whigham July 22, 2012, 6:28 pm

    Disagree Bill. The inspection process is between the inspector and the buyer, who by the way chooses their own inspector. The buyer agents responsibility to their customer is to make sure they know what to look for in an inspectior and what questions to ask. We do provide a list of inspectors for the buyer to review however the final decision is in their hands. We do advise our buyers what items represent a “habitability” condition that will protect their earnest money if they decide to cancel. The final decision regarding repair requests is in the buyers hands.

    Also, I don’t think it is in the best interest of the seller for the listing agent to be present. The inspectors report will provide the basis for all future action on both sides.

    You mentioned novice Realtors. Early on I’ve attended inspections with my buyer where the listing agent was also present. Several times this situation created confrontations among all partys regarding an inspectors opion. Not good.

    As a result I don’t attend and I encourge the listing agent not to. Much better for all partys.

  • Bill Gassett July 22, 2012, 6:46 pm

    Kim – from a buyer’s agent’s perspective I can understand why you would not the seller’s agent present. It allows a much easier opportunity for you and the buyer to exaggerate the findings of the inspection. Over the years I have seen this happen over and over again. I am there and hear exactly what the inspector says. The inspector completely makes light of a very minor issue and then the buyer blows it way out of proportion asking the seller to make a repair or improvement. Without the listing agent present it is going to be card blanche for a buyer to ask for whatever they please. A seller deserves representation just as much as a buyer does.

    It is no different than the advent of buyer’s agency. Prior buyer’s agency coming into practice every Realtor represented the seller. Was that fair? Of course not! This is no different.

    I would also disagree with you that it is not beneficial for the buyer to be there during the inspection. The inspection is not just for uncovering problems but to learn about all the systems in the house and how they function. Plumbing, electrical, heat are all major things that are buyer should know about. Things like where is the water shut off in the case of a pipe bursting. Going over a report is not the same thing as visually being there during the inspections of various components in the home.

  • Bill Gassett July 22, 2012, 7:01 pm

    Bob you make it sound like the inspectors report is the “Bible” on the home. The inspectors job is to find every little nuance wrong with the home. There are times when items found in a report look a lot worse then they actually are. Buyer’s also certainly exaggerate issues. In a buyer’s market buyer’s often can be completely ridiculous in their requests of a seller. It is curious you don’t see the need for a seller to be represented. Is that because you don’t want to invest the time being there?

    Over the years I have had home inspections where the entire sale is in the balance of who does the inspection. Presentation is everything when it comes to home inspections. As an example you could have two inspectors inspecting the same on home and find the exact same issues. The way one inspector presents the issues could cause a buyer not to move forward with a sale. I have seen this happen countless times over the years. Some inspectors can present issues in a way that would make any buyer not want to purchase a home. If I am there I can at least ask questions of the inspector. Questions like “is this problem common for a home of this age”?

    I do agree there should never be any kind of confrontation between an agent and the inspector. That is completely unprofessional.

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