Who is present at home inspections for Silicon Valley real estate sales? The answer really depends on when the inspections are done and who is paying for them.
Timing of the home inspections
Pre-sale inspections: In Silicon Valley, many home sellers get pre-sale inspections of the home (property), roof, chimney, and a pest inspection or termite inspection too as they tend to provide an excellent return on investment. With the seller’s inspections, often the listing agent will be present for either all of the inspection, or, if the seller is there and prefers, only at the summary. Inspectors are not ordinarily left at the property alone in this area – though in some states that is the norm.
Sale pending: When the home is in contract, both the buyer’s real estate agent and the buyer or buyers will be present for the inspections. The seller and listing agent ordinarily are not there, but may be. Being present is a great way for the future owners to really learn about the property, so we Realtors strongly encourage them to attend if at all possible.
More than a written report
A lot of time, there are nuances to the home inspections which you will only get in person and not find on the written report. Some inspectors may volunteer info on how to maintain things in the future, such as tips on keeping rain gutters from rusting. If you don’t attend, you won’t get that education.
As much as possible, Realtors try to get all home inspections to happen at once (same day, same window of time) to minimize the buyer’s time away from work and inconvenience to the seller. In some cases, however, the roof or other inspection may not be able to be scheduled at the same time. Roof inspections normally are not tightly scheduled – the inspector comes during a window of time which is not precise. Since no interior access to the home is required, this is usually not a problem. Even so, it’s nice if the buyer and selling agent (buyer’s agent) can be there to hear the verbal information when the home’s seen.
(Side note: a few years back, I met some Realtors from Utah who said that their inspectors have lock box keys and that they inspect with buyers present but the real estate agents absent. “My broker discourages our being present at home inspections – too much liability”, one of them explained to me.)
What about the seller or listing agent being present at the buyer’s home inspections? The buyer can inspect but cannot insist that the seller or listing agent not be there. Usually, though, the listing agent and seller clear out to give the buyer privacy with his or her agent and inspector(s).
With my sellers, I usually recommend that they go out for the day. It can be very stressful for the seller to hear the home inspector finding issue with the home’s systems, and on more than a few occasions I’ve seen home sellers start to cry when hearing what’s wrong with the house. There’s no benefit to that so it’s often best to just not hear it! Sometimes, though, this will not happen. The buyers and their agent need to understand that the seller can be present if so desired.
The inspection time frame is NOT the time to tell family and friends to come by and see the house. It is not an open house for the buyers and should not be viewed as such. I have seen buyers surprise everyone else by showing up with a crowd. Don’t be that buyer! Your agent doesn’t want to have to play the heavy and turn them away. The access is for a limited reason: your inspection, for which you may be present. Need to show a relative or two and it’s the only possible time? Ask your agent to ask the listing agent for permission ahead of time.
Sometimes the listing agent is present for the buyer’s inspections because the seller is nervous and wants someone there. At other times, the listing agent is a newer agent and is learning a tremendous amount at each inspection, so goes. Whatever the case, if the seller’s Realtor is there, he or she will ordinarily be very helpful and inobtrusive, sometimes shedding light on things that may be misunderstood etc.