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Sellers at Home Inspections! Good or Bad?

Home Inspector with Watz Home Inspections

When sellers insist on staying home for the inspection many things can happen some good some bad it depends on the seller. Some sellers think that nobody can find things in the home but them, like light switches or garage door openers. Some sellers are very nice and go about their normal routine as if you were not there. I have had sellers push me out of the way just to turn on a light switch that they thought no one would find.  Some sellers follow you around and ask more questions than the buyers.  It can get tense when you point something out to a buyer and the seller overhears you and states I'm not going to fix that. Most of the agents I work with prefer that the sellers not be home, but sometime it cannot be avoided(FSBO). Just yesterday at an inspection the buyers stayed out in the front of the house during most of the inspection because the sellers were home and they are chain smokers. Walking thru the living room was walking thru a fog bank. Sometimes sellers asked me for my card and called to do their inspection when they made a purchase. I have also had sellers half my size get in my face and call me every name in the book for pointing out thing to the buyers.

 Whats your opinion or story.


Posted by Jim Watzlawick www.watzhomeinspections.com


Christian Infantolino
Century 21 Winterpark Real Estate - Winter Park, CO
Do not let Sellers stay in the house.  I would suggest this for both showing the house as well as the inspection.  First of all, it is most likely the buyer who is paying the inspector to be there, not the seller.  The seller will find out what is wrong in good time.  The only thing that ever comes from having the seller present is making the buyer uncomfortable, which is not good for the transaction.
May 15, 2007 06:12 AM
Ron Pickett
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury - Laguna Beach, CA
REALTORĀ® Coldwell Banker Laguna Beach

I would agree with you and insist that the sellers be available only as a resource for questions or clarifications. 

If the seller has nothing to hide they should not have a problem being outside or off-site for the inspection.  www.ronpickett.com


May 15, 2007 06:15 AM
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker Associate ,CRS,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Hi Jim,

Thanks for posing the question. Normally I prefer to have at least one of my seller's at home, usually the person who's the least emotional. I prefer they are available to answer any necessary questions that may come up. It can also save a lot of follow up calls later for everyone concerned.

However with that said, as Realtors I feel it's part of our duty to properly prepare the seller's what to expect. I explain how it feels like a "check-up" on the house, and they may feel like they are being invaded, etc. etc., yet it's a necessary aspect of the process. I also let them know we will have a brief re-cap at the end, usually followed by a written report in a few days.

I can also say with very few exceptions, the inspection is a learning process for the sellers too. Although many have been long time owners, most owners know more about their home after the process.

May 15, 2007 06:25 AM
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County
Do not let sellers hang around. They have a tendency to get defensive when, in reality, some of the items pointed out are "informational only." They need to let their agent present any issues later instead of getting worked up over non-issues.
May 15, 2007 06:25 AM
Maria Couto
RE/MAX Premier - Berkeley Heights, NJ
Realtor with "Results That "MOVE" You'
My experience is that sellers make buyers uncomfortable and sometimes annoy the inspectors with their own questions and explanations as to how "something works". I advise my sellers not to be present. Inspection problems can be addressed, discussed, resolved at a proper time.
May 15, 2007 06:29 AM
Donald Sutherland
Marathon Constructors Inspection Services - Seward, AK
Inspector-Seward, Alaska


I guess I haven't had that seller from hell yet. I or my client frequently have questions that only the seller can answer. My recommendation would have Realtor prepare seller by asking them to be there but not hovering, after all the inspection is for benefit of purchaser.

Alaska Don

May 15, 2007 06:55 AM
Jim Watzlawick
Watz Home Inspections - Algonquin, IL
Watz Home Inspections

Great comments guys, anybody got any horror stories to share?

Jim Watzlawick

May 15, 2007 08:38 AM
Vicki Watzlawick
CORE Realty (The Watz Team) - Algonquin, IL
Illinois Foreclosure Expert, The Watz Team
I don't like to have the Sellers there.  You never know what they might say.  Example..let's say the buyer is looking for a peaceful neighborhood and the seller says oh yeah, the lady next door has 8 kids!  OMG..there goes another deal.  SO it's not only about the seller getting defensive, it's about them talking too much about all sorts of things. And  I agree with Gary, sellers get too defensive!
May 15, 2007 08:41 AM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Just today I had an inspection for a condo where the developer walked in and announced,had four inspectors here and they all said it was the best they had seen with no problems whatsoever.

Well after being told I was not allowed to inspect any common areas,roof ,basement,etc;then ordered to end my inspection after less than two hours you can imagine how I feel about sellers being present.

I could go much further but keep client dealings private.

May 16, 2007 03:41 PM
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp
I may be crazy, but my view is slightly different than the rest of you.  I personally don't care if the seller is there or not.  If there, I tell them that I will go about my business and do my job.  Generally, they seem to stay out of the way.  As Jim said, if they are there, and I have questions, it is nice to be able to get answers.  My way with dealing with people in general is low key, and I seldom have problems.  Stay professional and things will go fine.  Keep your own emotions out of the equation.
May 17, 2007 04:09 AM
Denny L West
I have never had a problem with sellers being present or even sellers agents . the one problem i did have was withthe buyers agent ,.. I always set appointments with clients to be early then clients show then thier agent shows . by this time we are going over the inspection .( take in mind that seller agent is present and buyer agent didnt Know that i did several inspections for seller agent already soshe let me do my thing and was in another room when My client ask well what do you think All I said was  this home is in great shape well maintained . just move on in . Then all of a sudden buyers agent jumps up and says you cant say that the seller agent is here we can even deal on any thing now ( there was nothing to deal on seller just did a complete up date to every area of vthe home I coulndnt even find one bad Plug in the home )  so I took it out side and agent again follewd me out raising cane and even told my client to sue me . next day client and I was going over the report when agent called still complaining to me about what I said . client was happy with insp. bought home and even passed out a business card to one of their friends . well I havent heardfrom that agent since . so becareful what you say and who is present when you say it . just keep on inspecting thats what I do.
May 18, 2007 03:03 AM
Scott Patterson, ACI
Trace Inspections, LLC - Spring Hill, TN
Home Inspector, Middle TN

I must say that I really don't care who is at the home while I'm performing the inspection.  It is all about keeping control of the inspection process.  As the home inspector, I'm in control.  I have a specific job to do and I'm going to do it.  I also realize that it I'm a guest in the home, and that the owner still is the owner.

I seldom have any problems.  If any of the folks that are at the home while I'm doing the inspection start to get in the way, I simply give them a job to do.  I might had them an extra outlet tester and tell them that they can help me by testing every outlet in the home, this will keep them busy for a good while.   Sometimes I might even disappear to the attic or crawl space.  I have even been known to tell them to please leave me alone, because I would not want them to make me miss something.  But again, I seldom have any problems.   I think that this has a great deal to do with how I start the inspection, I let everyone know that I have an important job to do and that the more interruptions I have the longer it will take to complete the inspection.  In other words, I'm showing that I in charge!

May 19, 2007 06:28 AM
Bruce Pinel
S & B Services LLC - North Kingstown, RI
I had a seller follow me once. He even wanted to show me how to operate the generator he "backfed" into the panel with SO cord. "I did this myself so I should show you and the buyer how to operate it." I smiled and said it was not necessary since it was "not part of the inspection". I then decided to get my HV gloves to pull the deadfront, now knowing that the sellar was doing his own wiring. Needless to say, I wrote it and all the double/triple taps, lack of bonding, an incorrect deadfront mounting screw that he had substituted, that pierced the generator SO cord. Good thing we didn't start it up! Then to top it off, the seller's agent got upset that I was taking too long and asked "why do you have to pull the cover, I seldom see that done." Oh well. And by the way, I did not "kill the deal". The buyers still bought the house but only after some serious price negotiating.
May 20, 2007 12:37 PM
Donald Sutherland
Marathon Constructors Inspection Services - Seward, AK
Inspector-Seward, Alaska

Way to go Bruce,

I always pull panel covers, as you know anything can be hidden in that box. I just remind the agent that I am working on behalf of the purchaser. Over the years I have developed an understanding with the agents that I frequently work with, and they understand that I am working for who ever hires me.

Alaska Don

May 20, 2007 04:29 PM
Jose Gonzalez
As a seller I think that some of these issues could be explained away if we were there and some of you home inspectors get too picky. 
Apr 15, 2008 03:11 AM
Joseph Lang
Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Home Inspector, Southern California

It doesn't really bother me if the sellers are present or not.  I was a Probation Officer in my previous life so I've been through all sorts of situations.  But I have been doing a lot of foreclosures lately and it's nice to inspect vacant homes.

Now I did have one home inspection where a knife was pulled on me, that wasn't fun at all.  You can read about it HERE.  So be safe out there.

Apr 15, 2008 05:29 AM
John LaRocca
LaRocca Inspections - Burbank, CA
I'm an inspector and I don't mind either way if the seller is on site or not just as long as he or she is available by phone if I have a question or need access somewhere, etc.
Apr 18, 2008 12:10 PM
B. Everson

Is a purchaser supposed to give the seller a copy of the purchaser's inspection report?

May 21, 2009 03:21 PM
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp

No the purchaser is not required to give the inspection report to the seller.  The purchaser may give some information to the seller by way of negotiating, but the report belongs only to the person who paid for it (the pruchaser).

May 21, 2009 05:20 PM