Dear Barry,

Recently I read an article where it was stated that home buyers can more freely discuss matters with their home inspector if the sellers are not home during the inspection. As a Realtor, I find this to be best during the inspection itself, but perhaps the sellers should be present when the findings are reviewed after the inspection. Most sellers have a strong desire to know what is being said about their home and to have the opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings. The final review would seem to be the best time for the sellers and their agent to hear the inspector’s findings, to answer lingering questions about the property, and to anticipate repair requests from the buyers. What are your thoughts on this? –Kathie

Dear Kathie,

In many transactions, the best arrangement is just as you suggest: all parties actively present for a full review of the inspector’s findings and recommendations. In fact, there are often definite advantages to seller participation. Sellers, when they are forthcoming, can explain uncertainties that arise during an inspection. They can provide some history concerning past problems, repairs, alterations, and the status of permitted or nonpermitted work. In some situations, open discussions of the inspection report can soothe a seller’s anxieties, while assuring buyers about the general condition of the property.

On the other hand, many buyers simply prefer to have a private consultation with their inspector, apart from the sellers. When buyers so choose, agents and inspectors should defer to their wishes, since the buyers are the ones paying for the inspection.

In some cases, a seller’s personality can pose problems. Some, for example, tend to be defensive about the condition of their home, sometimes to the point of being argumentative. On the flip side, there are sellers who are overly helpful, offering lengthy explanations for every disclosure made by the inspector. If unchecked, this tendency to clarify detail can expand a summary review of the inspection to a prolonged discourse of one or two hours.

In the final analysis, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the question of who should be present at a home inspection. It’s all a matter of personalities. All we can do is work with the circumstances of each transaction and do what seems to work best.

Dear Barry,

In a recent column, you said, “… carbon monoxide detectors are best located near the floor, because CO is heavier that air.” As a former chemistry student, I must correct you in this conclusion. Carbon monoxide, with an atomic weight of 28, is just slightly lighter than air, whose mixture of nitrogen and oxygen has a weight of approximately 28.8. Please let your readers know this. –Thomas

Dear Thomas,

You are the second expert to point out this discrepancy, and I thank you both for this important correction. Carbon monoxide detectors, therefore, should be placed near ceilings, as is required for smoke detectors.

Unfortunately, most homes have no carbon monoxide detectors at all, and very few municipalities even require them. Everyone reading this is strongly advised to install at least one CO detector in their home. Carbon monoxide is odorless and deadly. CO detectors save lives.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.

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