A home inspection is a critical part of a real estate transaction. A home inspector is an independent third party who can identify serious issues, such as a leaky roof or a cracked foundation. A prospective buyer can decide how to proceed based on information included in the inspection report.
In some states, the listing agent is required to attend a home inspection. In other locations, a listing agent is permitted, but not required to be present. Agents are divided on the issue of who should attend in states where the law doesn’t set clear rules.
Why a Listing Agent May Attend
An inspector may not have complete information on a house’s age, condition, past use and other factors and may arrive at an inaccurate conclusion. That may prompt the buyer to request repairs or a price reduction or may cause the deal to fall through entirely. If your listing agent is there, he or she will be able to answer questions and provide information on past repairs. That can put the inspector’s observations in context and help prevent a misunderstanding.
Why Some Listing Agents Don’t Attend Home Inspections
Some buyer’s agents don’t want a listing agent to be present at a home inspection. They feel that having the seller’s agent there makes it difficult for the buyer and the buyer’s agent to speak frankly about issues with the house. Since the buyer is paying for the inspection, agents argue that the buyer should have an opportunity to speak freely with his or her agent and the inspector without the seller’s agent present.
Home inspectors sometimes refuse to allow a seller’s agent to attend. Inspectors may argue that since they were hired by a buyer, they have a duty to provide their honest assessment to the buyer without any influence from the seller’s agent.
Some listing agents believe that inspections should be left to qualified professionals. Those agents do not attend inspections because they don’t want to say anything that might be incorrect or confusing and that could open them up to legal liability.
If the listing agent overhears something about a problem with a house during an inspection and the buyer decides to walk away, the seller will have to look for another buyer. Some agents don’t want to be present at a home inspection since they will be required to disclose any negative information they overhear to another potential buyer in the future.
Talk to Your Agent About Who Will Attend the Home Inspection
In some states, the matter of who can and should be present for a home inspection is clearly addressed by law. In others, the issue is left to the individual agents and the home inspector. Ask your agent about the law in your state and how your agent typically handles inspections. Feel free to ask questions and voice any concerns you may have.