DEAR BARRY: We just accepted an offer to buy our home. An inspection has been scheduled, and the buyers plan to attend. But our agent has requested that we not be home during the inspection. This seems unfair to us. We feel uncomfortable having people walk through our home when we are not there. If the buyers have the right to attend the inspection, why should we be asked to leave? –Jack
DEAR JACK: Many sellers share your discomfort over the invasive aspects of a home inspection. The thought of people you don’t know walking through your bedroom — looking into your closets and under the sinks without your supervision and oversight — can be unsettling. But all of this is part of the routine of selling a home.
It is standard practice in today’s real estate market for buyers to be present during a home inspection. To avoid possible conflicts and misunderstandings between the parties in a transaction, Realtors often ask sellers to take a walk or go out to lunch during the home inspection.
This allows buyers to freely discuss the condition of the home with their inspector. However, you are not obligated to leave. The agent’s request is just that — a request. No one can order you to leave your own home.
If you want to be present, that is your right. But keep in mind that the buyers are paying hundreds of dollars to hear what the inspector has to say, and privacy in that relationship means a lot to them. The best way to understand is to imagine how you would feel if you were the buyer and this were your home inspection.
If you decide to stay home during the inspection, let the buyers have their private time with the inspector, rather than hovering over the process. Allowing the inspection relationship to breathe will help to keep the transaction alive.
DEAR BARRY: We just bought a bank-owned home and are beginning to fix it up, but we have a serious concern. When we removed the old carpets from the bedrooms, we found gaps between the concrete slab and the perimeter foundation. This was never disclosed to us, and we want to know what we can do about it. What is your advice? –Laura
DEAR LAURA: Banks typically have no knowledge of the physical conditions of homes that they sell, especially conditions that are concealed by carpets and other building components. When banks foreclose on a home, the property becomes a statistical entity on their books, not a place with which they are familiar. This is why banks, as sellers, are exempt from the disclosure laws that apply to regular sellers.
In most cases, gaps around a slab are not significant defects or cause for concern. Concrete slabs typically shrink as they harden, and shrinkage can leave gaps around the perimeter. If you need further assurance, have the slab and foundation checked by a qualified home inspector or a licensed structural engineer.
To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.
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