The question of whether a seller should be at the home inspection is really dependent on the seller’s personality. If the seller is actually helpful at the inspection, answering questions, providing documents, and making the home inspection run smoothly — it can be an asset. However, if the seller isn’t friendly, and doesn’t know much about how the house works, it can become a detriment — and turn the buyer off.
I invite you to also read my guide on the 7 things that can fail a home inspection that sellers may find interesting.
- Will the seller actually be helpful during the home inspection?
- Will the seller answer the buyer’s questions and put them at ease?
- Or will the seller get in the way of the inspection and irritate everyone?
Only the seller can answer these questions, but in this article I go over a few of the pros and cons of a seller being at the inspection.
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Pro 1. Seller Can Answer Questions
Probably one of the biggest advantages of the seller being at the home inspection is that you can answer questions about the home.
Many times when I am inspecting a home, I find things but am unable to explain it’s origins. As an example, I frequently come across wall patches where there clearly was a repair.
I noticed a patch above the kitchen range hood. With my moisture meter, it tested dry at time of inspection. I recommend asking seller for more info.
I take a picture of the wall patch, and I put the picture in the report, recommending to “ask the Seller for an explanation”. A wall patch usually isn’t a big deal, but if the Seller is there and can give an explanation such as “there was a leak last year but we fixed it” then that can satisfy any doubts in the buyer’s mind.
You may also want to see my guide on the right questions to ask during a home inspection that buyers should ask.
Also, sometimes there are home components that I don’t fully understand. If there is some quirky light system or a weird way to open a door, the Seller can easily explain something.
The more a Seller can alleviate the doubts of a Buyer’s mind, the better. Sellers can usually give better and more detailed answers in person, and they can physically show the Buyer how to do something.
There is no way a home inspector will be able to get as good an understanding on the operation of the home as the Seller since we are only there for a few hours.
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Pro 2. Seller Can Provide Documents
This second pro is related to the first, but if the Seller is home, they can immediately provide receipts, manuals, and other home documents. Of course, the Realtor frequently asks the Seller for documents after the inspection, but it is usually more edifying if the Seller provides it while there.
The Seller will then ‘remember’ other documents they have, or more information about a particular appliance. And if the Seller can provide proof of a contractor repair, and even warranty information, that can be a huge plus to a Buyer.
In my home inspections, I am always calling out past repairs, and if the Seller can provide actual documentation, it will help put the Buyer at ease.
But if the Seller is aware that certain things need to be repaired, or did the job unprofessionally without receipts or warranties — then it is probably better if the Seller is not there.
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Stairwell deterioration. Stairwell has signs of past flooding. I recommend asking seller for more info.
Pro 3. Seller Can Get Rapport
Another big upside to the Seller being at the home inspection is that they can get rapport with the Buyer. Many times I have been doing a home inspection where the Seller gets into a warm conversation with the Buyer.
They start talking about where they grew up, their kids, the neighborhood, and the Seller and Buyer talk like old chaps. The Seller will usually give a backstory on the house, how their kids grew up there, or stories related to the house.
Buying a house is usually the biggest investment someone makes in their lifetime, and knowing the Seller a bit can help loosen them up on the purchase.
Con 1. Home Inspector Doesn’t Want You There
I can’t answer for the Buyer, but for home inspectors (and realtors) — we almost never want you there. In fact, we usually hate when the Seller is there, but we always hold our tongue.
When the Seller is at the home inspection, it makes it harder for me to fully criticize the home because the Seller frequently objects. So when a Seller is at the home inspection, I frequently wait until it is over, and I take the Buyer outside in private for my full thoughts.
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Con 2. Slowing Down The Inspection
It can also just be annoying because occupants have to move out of particular rooms for me to inspect the house. And it can be nice when the Seller answers questions during the inspection, but it can also get tedious when they don’t keep quiet.
If the Seller is yapping on and on about something, it can add an hour or two to the inspection And if the Seller is home with their kids or dogs, it can just cause the inspection to drag on.
The kid will have to be moved out of a bedroom, or someone will be working in an office that has to leave. And anytime the home inspection goes slower or makes it more tedious, you may catch the wrath of the home inspector.
As a result, the home inspector may take a more critical view of your home and it’s problems. Just like appraisers, home inspectors are human, and if you irritate us, it may not end well.
Con 3. Buyer May Not Like You
This last con is one dependent on the likeability of the Seller.
I find that Sellers, Buyers, and Home Inspectors usually get along well, but once in a while there is a Seller that nobody likes.
And if you have a hard to like personality, or if you have a bad attitude during the inspection — it will not end well. If a Seller insists on being at the home inspection, they should always be polite, honest, and friendly.
In addition, depending on whether it’s a buyers or sellers market, the sellers may or may not agree to pay for the repairs. But for the Seller to say that when actually there may truly rub the Buyer the wrong way.
If there is a possibility that the Seller doesn’t want to pay for repairs, then they shouldn’t be there.
Should The Buyer Be At The Home Inspection?
A buyer never has to be at a home inspection, but it strongly recommended that the buyer be present for the home inspection.
When a buyer attends the home inspection, they get to see the nitty gritty details of how the home works. You will find out where the main water shutoff is located, how to work the bathroom/kitchen GFCI outlets, turning on sprinkler heads, how to operate the bathrooms, and many other issues.
You also get to learn how well-kept the house is or isn’t.
The home inspector can also be a valuable resource on how to maintain the home. Don’t pass up the opportunity to see the house through the eyes of an expert.
If you are home seller, you will need to sleep on this one.
If you can provide helpful documentation, answer questions, and get rapport with the Buyer — then there is a strong case to be at the home inspection.
However, if you did some unprofessional repairs, or if the house still has issues — you will probably be better off not being at the inspection.
You will also risk irritating the home inspector and even the Realtor if you are there.