As an exclusive buyer agent, I do not take listings so my perspective on this question is different than most other agents.
Over the many home inspections I have attended, whether the listing agent attends is varied - sometimes they do and sometimes they do not. For the most part, the transactions where the listing agent DID attend the home inspection are smoother and easier for both sides to negotiate.
I understand the arguments against attending. If the listing agent is made aware of an issue by the home inspector, they will have to disclose it going forward if the current deal falls apart. Since listing agents are obligated to act in the best interest of their client, the Seller, then they do not want to have any information that would have to make them act against their client's best interests.
However, if something does come up in a home inspection and the buyer agent makes them aware of it and/or sends a copy of the home inspection report, aren't they now aware of the issue anyway?
The problem I have is that after the home inspection, if any issues do arise that I have to bring up to the seller's agent for repair or credit, I am the one explaining the issue to them. I essentially am the translator between the home inspector and the seller's agent. It's not really fair. I'm not a home inspector and although I may have understood what they said, I am not always the best at explaining the issue or what happened during the inspection.
Invariably, they have follow up questions for me. Where did he find the mold? What was wrong with the boiler? Where is the termite damage? And so on. Following the questions, there are the disuptes. My Seller and I don't see the mold. The heating system works fine. We can't find the termite damage.
Honestly, most times my initial reaction to these questions is "If you were at the home inspection then you would have seen it yourself." I do, however, usually refrain from that response!
Sure, they are trying to do the best job for their clients by disputing or discounting the issues. However, if they were at the home inspection they actually have a better perspective. Maybe yes, they saw the mold that the inspector pointed out and so can give their client the best advice on how to handle the issue. Or, maybe the home inspector didn't even go up in the attic so how could he/she have seen mold there - and so they have good reason to disupte the finding.
Telling me that the home inspector didn't know what he/she was doing or that they must be making it up doesn't hold water if the listing agent wasn't there. In addition, it is insulting to me - I WAS there and saw what he/she saw!
Isn't it part of the listing agent's job to negotiate these items on behalf of the seller and advise their client as to what is legitimate and what isn't? If so, I would say they could do a better job if they were actually at the home inspection. In addition, I find that I learn something at every home inspection that helps me be a better agent going forward. Knowing some of the common issues can help agents do a better job representing buyers and sellers.
There are a few cases where it has been detrimental - the listing agent argued with the home inspector or got in the way or they talked so much to me and my clients during the inspection that it became a distraction. And, it does keep the buyers and their agent from freely discussing the issues - however that's easy enough to do AFTER the home inspection.
Let me know what you think! I'd be happy to hear why I am wrong when I say I think that listing agents should attend the home inspection.
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Christine Smith is an Attorney and Exclusive Buyer Agent with over 25 years of experience in the real estate field.
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