Home Inspections: Who’s Watching the House?
| January 27, 2015
Home inspections. Almost always a condition on the purchase of a re-sale home; they’re important protection for buyers. If you’re representing a buyer, you’re probably going to suggest they include a home inspection condition. But, as it relates to home inspections, is that where your responsibility ends? What about when you’re representing a seller—is there anything you should do to offer advice to your clients relating to a buyer’s home inspection?
Including a home inspection condition in the Offer to Purchase isn’t the end for the representative of either party. Once the seller accepts the buyer’s conditional offer, the buyer will need to satisfy their conditions before finalizing the purchase. As the buyer’s representative, you can offer the names of licensed home inspectors, you may even have a recommendation (not an endorsement), and you can work with the buyer and the seller’s representative to schedule the inspection.
And now the really important question—as the buyer’s representative, do you need to attend the home inspection?
The buyer’s representative is to provide access for the home inspection, remain on the property during the inspection and secure the property once the inspection is done. Typically, the buyer’s representative takes on these responsibilities with consent from the seller through the seller’s representative.
Of course, there are times when a buyer’s representative may not want to—or may be unable to—stick around for the home inspection. With the seller’s informed consent through the seller’s representative, that’s fine. But what does informed consent really look like? The seller needs to understand the implications of allowing the home inspection to proceed without the buyer’s representative present.
As a seller’s representative, you need to make sure the seller understands the risks of providing this consent. You can imagine the conversation going something like this:
The inspection is scheduled for 1 p.m. on such and such a day. The inspector is likely to be on time but that’s not always certain. Should take about 3 hours but it may be shorter or longer, could actually take 4 hours or more, no guarantees. You okay with all of that?
The home inspector is “John Smith” but that could change, no guarantees. Could be anybody, really. I’m not there to supervise, so if it’s someone else, they’ll proceed anyway. You okay with that?
The home inspector has a lockbox key and will be there with the buyers, unsupervised. You okay with that?
If things go missing or if the property is damaged, that’s your problem, not mine. You good with that?
When the home inspector is doing his inspection of the exterior of the home, the buyers may be left alone inside, unsupervised. You okay with that?
It’s supposed to be just the buyers in the home with the home inspector but I’ve seen as many as 7 additional family members and friends come and go. Again, they’ll be unsupervised. You good with that?
The home inspector should lock your home afterwards but sometimes they forget. Again, that’s your problem, not mine. You okay with that?
Oh, yeah, one more thing. I don’t know if we’ve covered everything here. Something else could go wrong. Again, whatever that may be, it’s your problem, not mine. Good with that too?”
If the seller consents, knowing all of this, great—the buyer’s representative doesn’t have to be present for the inspection. This is what true informed consent would look like. In the absence of that, the buyer’s representative needs to be there for the home inspection. That’s the only way to manage unanticipated events.