I met a wonderful couple at an inspection this past week. They are moving to Greenville from out of state and drove up to be present for the home inspection. The home was staged but otherwise vacant and they spent their time measuring and planning for the big move.
Their presence got me thinking about how many of my inspections are done without clients being there. I understand people have jobs, or are moving across the country to settle in this beautiful area. However, not making the time to show up for the inspection, in my opinion, is a mistake.
The purchase of a home is one of the largest investments someone will ever make. We tend to decide on houses based on location, number of bedrooms/bathrooms and paint color. Up until the inspection, the buyer has never truly examined the house they have contracted to purchase. Attending a home inspection gives the buyer the opportunity to ask questions and really look around the property.
My role as home inspector is to help the buyer ‘kick the tires’ of the house they want to buy. The inspection is designed to be a visual examination of the property but I use moisture meters, infra-red camera and other tools and tricks of the trade to examine as thoroughly as possible. Most of the time, the report is a “Honey Do” list of recommendations for minor repairs and updates. Sometimes, it’s a faulty furnace, a non-functioning AC or a leaking roof. No matter what is found, the list is usually long and can be overwhelming. A buyer’s presence allows me the opportunity to explain what I’m observing and reporting while pointing out the significance of what I find.
I sometimes hear an agent tell the buyer to “let the inspector do his work” and not interrupt. My response is that interruptions and questions are a great way for the client to learn about the property. “Where are the shut-off valves?” “How do you change the filters?” “How does the fireplace work?” “Where is the electrical panel?” “Is there storage in the attic?” “What difference does it make if the outlet is grounded?” As my teachers always said, “there’s no such thing as a wrong question!” After all, the client is paying for the inspection and if they have questions, they should be able to get some answers!
The other great advantage of having the buyer present is as an extra pair of eyes. I can overlook something that a client might notice. I may dismiss something as ‘unimportant’ that is of real concern to the client. In either case, speaking up will warrant a second (closer) look at a particular area of the home and can help the inspection to be more complete for the buyer.
I also believe it is equally important for the agent to be present for the home inspection. I realize it is a long 3 hours of sitting around while I do my work and the clients look through the home. It can also be a learning opportunity for the agent and, if something major is observed, it can give the agent a heads-up and first hand knowledge of what the issue is. On a practical note, I also can’t keep track of the client if they walk into a separate area of the home. I don’t want the liability if something happens!
Besides, the agent is the buyer’s guide through the whole real estate process…why wouldn’t they be present for the home inspection?
Buying a home is a big financial commitment. Buyers need to learn all they can about the home they have signed a contract on. Once they take possession of the home, they are the persons responsible for repairs and maintenance. The home inspection is the time to learn and voice whatever concerns or questions they may have.