Home inspections can make or break a deal, which perhaps explains the passion behind divided industry opinions on the issue. Some argue listing agents should represent their clients in all parts of the process — including inspections. Others say, “Mind your own business.” Then there’s the law, which has rules all of its own.
- Attending the buyer's inspection can give you a chance to address a buyer or inspector's concerns and curb illegitimate or outrageous claims.
- Others say the inspection is the responsibility of the buyer, the buyer's agent and the inspector, so they should be the only ones present.
- States have different contract laws that may make it beneficial for you to attend or skip out on an inspection no matter how you feel personally.
Inspections can make or break a deal. When a buyer hires an inspector to review a home, there’s a lot on the line — and it can be a difficult step for those on the seller side, who don’t have as much control over the inspection as other parts of the closing process.
So, should a listing agent leave such an integral part of the homebuying procedure entirely up to the buyer, buyer’s agent and the inspector?
The members of Lab Coat Agents put in their two cents on the issue and made compelling arguments for attending or skipping inspections. Here’s what they had to say:
Represent your client in all parts of the process — including inspections
1. Listing agents should attend inspections to prevent misunderstandings.
Gail Bass, a Realtor in Florida, says she attends buyer inspections or will send a team member on her behalf. “I find it typically prevents misunderstandings, makes the seller more comfortable and keeps overly aggressive and inappropriately invasive inspectors in line,” she said. “And, sometimes inspectors just don’t know how to operate something or can’t find it at all.”
2. Listing agents should attend inspections to address inspector competency and prevent blindsided sellers.
In addition to concerns about inspector competency, some agents attend inspections as a way to protect their sellers from losing time and money due to unfounded requests.
Billy Rugen said he always attends inspections — and oftentimes, he said his sellers ask that he be there so they’re not blindsided by issues that could stop a deal in its tracks.
“I’ve had a few sales ‘fail’ inspection when I didn’t attend, only to find out the issues were either illegitimate [or] greatly exaggerated,” he says.
3. Listing agents should attend inspections because there’s no guarantee the buyer’s agent will be there.
Another reason to attend: There is no guarantee that the buyer’s agent will stay for the inspection, which can negatively compromise the inspection process.
“My challenge is the buyer’s agents who let everyone in and then leave to do other things,” Kendyl Young said. “The last one I caught doing that (she let the buyer in for an unscheduled appointment — we just happened to do a site inspection on that day) had left the buyer and contractor alone in a vacant listing. When I called her about it, she said the buyer is an adult and this should not be a problem for me.”
Young added that listing agents and buyer agents should attend the inspection, with the knowledge that each agent has something important to offer to the process and that one shouldn’t try to overpower the other.
You have no business being at the inspection
The other side of the argument — stay out of it. The inspection is for the buyer and the buyer’s agent.
4. Listing agents should not attend inspections because it infringes on a buyer’s rights.
Listing agents who choose to skip out on the inspection process believe their presence infringes on the buyer’s right to examine a home without restriction.
“I think the presence of a listing agent is not only a waste of their time, but also off-putting to many buyers,” Ryan Hukill said. “It’s their inspection, and their time to explore and investigate the property uninhibited. They shouldn’t have to worry about the stranger in the corner watching their every move, or butting in with their opinions.”
5. Listing agents should not attend inspections because no agents should attend inspections.
Tom Riggins took it one step further and said that no agent — listing or buyer — should be at the inspection.
“I tell new agents there are 5 things we are not: inspectors, appraisers, bankers, lawyers or closing agents,” he says. “Each of these roles is filled by someone more skilled than I am, and I will do my best to help my client better understand what each of these professionals is offering to them in reports, advice or documents, but with the understanding that only the professional in that field can give them the most accurate answer.”
Riggins even says that Realtors risk being sued by a client who acted on incorrect advice the Realtor provided.
6. Listing agents should not attend a buyer’s inspection because they should be holding their own independent inspection.
Lastly, some agents say a listing agent shouldn’t be present at a buyer’s inspection because they should be holding independent inspections of their own.
“I usually do a pre-listing inspection at the seller’s expense,” Debbie Miller says. “I use the seller’s inspection results to a gauge whether the buyers are taking advantage of the situation and want to get more than is warranted.”
It doesn’t matter what you think
When in doubt, consult the law. It may be in your best interest to show up (or skip out) based on your state.
7. Listing agents should check their state laws and then decide what to do.
Some agents pointed out that it may not matter how you personally feel about the listing agent debate, because as Vincent Grandi pointed out, each state has different local contract laws.
“Here in Ohio, we do not want our listing agents at the home inspection in case they overhear something. It becomes disclosable,” said Nancy Daniels Leirer. “We never want to see the actual inspection report either.”
Ira Serkes, who works in the Berkeley, California, area, said: “In Berkeley, we always want a copy of the report so the buyer can sign off on it or we’re able to disclose it to another buyer.”
But Valerie Blake, who is a Realtor in the D.C. metro area, said agents in her area follow the same code Leirer described.
So, what do you think? Should a listing agent (or any agent) go to an inspection? Tell us in the comments below.