Realtors Should Be Attending Home Inspections With Their Clients

by Bill Gassett on June 30, 2010 · 55 comments

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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 24 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.

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 Massachusetts

I 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.

Massachusetts Realtor not giving home inspection advice

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.

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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 24+ 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.


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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Gassett October 12, 2011 at 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 at 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 at 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 at 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 at 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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