Home Inspection - can I be present?

jane__nyNovember 7, 2009

We have an agreed upon offer and buyers are having the house inspected on Wed. I know the buyers will be present with their agent. I would like to be there also. Is that customary or am I overstepping?



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I was told to leave. My agent said it was easier for the buyers to discuss any issues without me there.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2009 at 11:25PM
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I was there for two of the homes we sold because the buyers arranged the inspection at inconvenient times for my family. The first time I wasn't even notified of the time the inspector was coming and I was in the middle of a project with a school aged child when the inspector (without buyers) showed up at the door with the realtor. I had 4 young children and wasn't about to leave for 2 or 3 hours without being forewarned. The inspector and realtor had no issue with it and I stayed in the dining room working on the project with my child while they inspected away.

The second time the buyers wanted to arrange the inspection for a specific day and I suggested the following day since we would be out of town the following day. I was busy doing laundry and packing for a house hunting trip out of state. Again, laundry for a family of 6 isn't a small ordeal and is pretty time intensive. The buyers couldn't schedule for the next day and said it was okay for me to be there for inspection. I stayed out of their way, and had absolutely no interaction with the buyers. The inspector did ask me one question, but it wasn't anything that seriously needed my input.

All the other homes we sold, inspections were scheduled for when we were not at home. I think you can be there if you choose, but you may leave yourself open to questioning from the buyers or inspector. That may or may not be a good thing. On one hand you may answer an inspector's question which clarifies a potential problem, it's nipped in the bud before it hits the inspection report (signs of a plumbing leak, was it properly fixed etc.). On the other hand interaction with the buyers may inadvertently give them pause and some unknown reason to back out. To be safe, I think if you can be gone you should be. If you can't then be as unobstrustive as possible, stay out of their way and let them go about their business.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 7:14AM
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I stayed, let the guy in, told him where I would be if he had any questions, then disappeared.
He did come and ask me a couple of things.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 9:13AM
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No, you don't have to leave. We were home for all of the buyers's inspections on the homes we sold. Just read a book or go about your business. Don't follow them around. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 9:29AM
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It is your house. The potential buyers do not own it (yet). No one can make you leave.

I recall reading a few stories on this board about the pros and cons of staying... the pros were if the inspector was clueless about something, the homeowner being there helped to show that something that was supposedly "broken" was just not being operated correctly by the inspector. Other pros included correcting the inspector if s/he aged something major incorrectly (roof looks to be at end of life when in fact it is 10 years old, etc).

The cons seemed to center around answering questions you may not want to be answering.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 2:30PM
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I stayed for the last two. Before then, inspections were rare. But the opportunity for a quick buck, aided and abetted by "consumer reporting", soon became a tsunami and you can't avoid being swamped.

I told the first inspector to keep his ladder off my gutters, so he didn't leave two telltale dents and scraped paint. (When I deliver luxury homes, I have buyers who would insist on repair/replacement for that damage and they'll get it.)

The second inspector turned off the air conditioner for the hour he was there on a steaming day. When he decamped, it wouldn't switch on. As I suspected, a large bug had gotten into the contactor. I also enjoyed his big show of opening and closing all the windows on my six year old home--to see if they opened and closed.

You're there if they have a question. But generally stay out of the way, especially if the buyers are there too.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 8:30PM
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xamsx: "correcting the inspector if s/he aged something major incorrectly (roof looks to be at end of life when in fact it is 10 years old, etc)."

End of life does not always refer to age...it refers to condition. There have been a number of issues with defective shingles, failing way before their time.

That said, jane ny, do what works best for you...but if you choose to stay, best to refrain from participating in the process unless asked.

Best wishes that all goes smoothly.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 9:21PM
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Thanks, I'm very nervous as I've never sold a home before. I think I got everything fixed I could find before I listed, but who knows?? I don't know the first thing about foundations, furnace, AC, pipes, well, septic.

I keep walking around the house looking for things wrong. I discovered a few little cracks I never noticed before...I just hope I survive this 'selling process.'

I guess I'll hang around and hide somewhere,


    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 12:15AM
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We met our inspector at the home and stayed there. Although we did not "follow" him around, we were aware of what he was doing.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 7:08PM
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"I guess I'll hang around and hide somewhere"

As a seller, I wouldn't want to be around. As a buyer, I relish talking to sellers! It is amazing what you can learn by asking a few innocent questions....

Your better off letting your agent field questions with responses such as "I'll have to ask the owner and get back to you". At least that buys time to come up with an acceptable reply.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 8:12PM
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I think it might be good to be there on the inspection - no one can force you to leave. Keep a pleasant attitude. I agree not all inspectors are good. We saw a previous home inspection for the house we ended up buying - the inspector reported that the front bedroom windows were jammed shut, probably due to shifting in the foundation. In reality, the windows opened smooth as butter - the guy just didn't know how to open them (they are old-style windows where you have to simultaneously push down a small metal lever and lift up). I thought they were jammed too, until the realtor (selling homes in the area for close to 30 years) showed me what I was doing wrong. No one was there with the inspector when he wrote up his report.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 6:35PM
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Thought I'd update on my inspection. I decided to stay and keep out of their way. Inspectors showed up with buyers, their babies and agent. There were two inspectors who split up. One stayed with the buyers and did the structural inspection and the other walked around with a check list turning on all the water, flushing toilets, turning on stove, and I'm not sure what else. Was difficult trying to stay out of the way. I sat in the sunroom reading the paper.

They were in the house over 3 hours. They left my water running in all bathrooms (4) for 1 1/2 hrs. I thought I'd have a nervous breakdown because we have a well and I was worried we'd run out of water (we didn't, surprisingly). They did the dye test of the septic.

The buyers are Korean as is their agent. Their agent would come to me and ask a few questions which I had difficulty understanding. I felt embarrassed. I wasn't sure what she was asking and was afraid of saying the wrong thing.

When it was over, I heard the inspector telling the buyers about my fireplace and saying he would strongly recommend having it inspected by a chimney expert. I couldn't hear everything, but got worried as my fireplace was something I hadn't thought of as a problem. I also heard him tell them although the septic passed the dye test, he would recommend having a septic expert check it because there was no way to tell how well it was serviced over the 50 yrs of the house. I walked in and said I just had it pumped in May and it was fine. He asked if I had receipts and I said I did. He told the buyer to ask for all receipts and to call the company. I was shocked and said I'd be happy to turn them over to him.

When the inspectors left, I asked the buyers if they had any questions about the house, the husband walked to the fireplace and said the inspector said there were cracks and it could set the house on fire. He showed me the cracks. There are a few hair-line cracks in 3 bricks on the facade. I told the buyer they were there 'forever' and we always used the fireplace. He seemed concerned (broken English) said the inspector said the cracks might go through to the liner of the chimney. He said he would call a fireplace inspector to check.

When they left, I called my fireplace guy who I've used for years to clean the chimney. He said he would take a look at the cracks. He came next day and said the cracks were old settling cracks on the facade and were below the liner. He said our liner was Terracotta and he looked up the chimney with lights and said there were no cracks as all in the liner. I had him write it all down and gave his statement to my RA.

We are supposed to go to contract this week unless the buyer wants an independent inspection. We haven't heard anything further on the fireplace.

This is the first time I've sold a house. We are exhausted with it all and just want it all over. Still haven't had the appraisal from the bank yet and the buyers won't close until the end of Feb. They are renting a condo and can't break the lease.

Thanks for all the advice. What was surprising was the length of the inspection.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 12:55AM
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3 hours for an inspection is not out of the norm. The inspector was doing his job in pointing out a few areas that were out of his expertise (septic and fireplace) and telling the buyer that those were areas that needed inspection. It's a good idea to turn all of your supporting documentation regarding those areas over to your realtor. The buyer may still request his own independent inspection of those areas. It's normal for a buyer to want independent expert opinions, and hopefully that expert opinon will set the buyer's mind at ease. Good luck, hang in there!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 7:49AM
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I know this is a bit old now, but the inspector I hired to do 2 inspections (doing the 3rd this week) recommends that you be there. I was there the first time, my Mom was there the second time as I had already left to come home and now I'm doing a 3rd inspection and no one will be there, so the inspector is my eyes and ears.

He takes a lot of pictures and shows them to me on his computer, right there. When I wasn't able to be there, and even with this upcoming inspection, he emailed me all his pictures and findings.

His inspections take abour 3-4 hours depending on the size of the house, I guess.

Hopefully, this 3rd inspection will go well, the other two I had to walk away from due to problems. If all goes well with this inspection, I'll order the pest inspection (again) and the chimney inspection (again)

I posted a while back, thank goodness for inspectors -and I'll say it again!!!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 5:42PM
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We signed the contract today. I'm wondering if the buyers were planning to have other inspectors come in, when would I know that? They had signed the contract last week and the check for 25% was with my lawyer. Wouldn't I know if they planned further inspection? We are waiting the results of the well-water tests to return, but there hasn't been any notice of anything else they want. When would that come up..before closing?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 9:01PM
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How long was it before you received the initial inspection report? The potential buyer had her father, a contractor, inspect my house yesterday afternoon and I haven't heard anything. I'm worried!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2009 at 10:20AM
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I would bet they're pretty much done. Here on LI inspections are normally performed prior to the signing of contracts and the contract normally won't have an inspection clause, as its already done. You got the signature and the money.. most likely done.

Home inspectors, even liscensed inspectors vary significantly in quality and what they believe their "purpose" is.

Personally, refering all items to a specialty inspector, is a load of BS. If there is 1 thing they are not sure of that concerns them, fine, but otherwise, they are either incompetiant or so afraid of any liability they're useless.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2009 at 3:21PM
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chrisk327: Personally, refering all items to a specialty inspector, is a load of BS.


Ever hear the expression, "Jack of all trades, master of none"?

The NYS licensing board does not share your opinion...as is the case with most if not all states that license the profession...including NJ.

In New York, the draft COE states as follows:

"Home inspectors are licensed by the NYS Department of State. Home Inspectors may only report on readily accessible and observed conditions as outlined in the standards of practice...

...Home inspectors shall not provide home inspection services beyond the scope permitted by law or regulation and shall not accept or perform services which the home inspector knows or has reason to know that he or she is not competent to perform....

... Home inspectors shall not falsify or misrepresent their experience, education or qualifications or permit any such misrepresentation by their employees or associates....

....Home inspectors shall avoid conduct or practices which deceive or mislead the public.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2009 at 12:05AM
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Just a thought, you mentioned turning over records either to the inspector or potential buyers. NO NO NO, do not turn any actual receipts or ??? only photocopies. What if they get lost, and the buyers claim the work needs to be done over or???
Remember only photo copies, not the actual documents.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2009 at 9:54PM
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I don't agree.

You're implying that the inspector has the ability to give no qualified opinion.

I with no experience can tell you that yeah, the lights are on, and you can talk to an electrician for the electrical system of the house, and talk to a plumber for the plumbing..... get a roofer out there too, b/c all I can tell you is there is a roof up there.

NYS isn't telling you to tell every client that to talk to each specialty. Inspectors who refer everything away are just doing to CYA, some warrented, but mostly not.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 2:23PM
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I am not implying anyhting. I have simply posted what is stated by the NYS home inspection regulations.

Bottom line, the HI can only tell you if a system is working as it should...or not. For example, if there is no power to an electrical outlet, he can't tell you why....he will have to advise you to hire a licensed electrician to determine cause and advise on the repairs needed and the projected cost.

If the furnace or the central A/C fails to operate as it should, he can't tell you why...he would advise you to call a licensed HVAC contractor, to determine cause and advise on the repairs needed and the projected cost and so on.

That said, if you have ever hired a home inspector who behaved as you descibe above (which is esentailly someone who is clueless),you may want to look into doing a more thorough job of vetting whom you hire.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 6:32PM
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The buyers didn't ask for any repairs or further inspections. I need to provide a receipt for the septic pumping done in May. That is required by the County. Other than that we are good to go.

The inspector certainly stressed getting further inspections but the buyers didn't ask for any. I did provide a written statement from my fireplace man stating there were no problems with the cracks as they were on the outside/facade.

I was not impressed with these inspectors. They seemed to push further inspections on the things they could offer referrals. I saw him hand the buyer a card and state he would highly recommend a particular chimney man. He explained that the cracks could cause the house to burn down and implied that the buyers children would be in danger. He spoke about the septic system explaining how it worked and if it failed could cost the buyer $30-35,000 to replace. I thought the buyer would faint! Poor man gasped. He then handed a card and recommended the buyer call this company for follow-up inspection.

They passed over certain problems I was anticipating. Nothing dangerous but things a buyer might insist be repaired. Whether these issues were mentioned outside the house, I don't know. They were never mentioned.

I was never given a copy of the report. I'm glad I was present and would recommend that sellers stay around for inspections.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 8:57PM
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jane ny: "I was not impressed with these inspectors. They seemed to push further inspections on the things they could offer referrals. I saw him hand the buyer a card and state he would highly recommend a particular chimney man. He explained that the cracks could cause the house to burn down and implied that the buyers children would be in danger. He spoke about the septic system explaining how it worked and if it failed could cost the buyer $30-35,000 to replace. I thought the buyer would faint! Poor man gasped. He then handed a card and recommended the buyer call this company for follow-up inspection."

It does sound as if these inspectors may be getting some sort of compenstion from the companies to which they are referring further inspections. If so, they are in violation of the NYS COE. You can of course file a complaint and ask that they be investgated for such...as being made aware of possible violations is the only way thay the licensing board would be able to enforce the regs.

Below are the COE's pertaining to this issue:

(b) Home inspectors shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one party for services on the same project or for services pertaining to the same project unless the circumstances are fully disclosed and agreed upon by all involved and interested parties.

(c) Home inspectors shall not solicit or accept financial or other consideration, directly or indirectly from persons other than the home inspectors client.

(j) Home inspectors shall not accept commissions, fees or other consideration directly or indirectly from contractors or other persons or entities dealing with clients or employers of the home inspector in connection with work for which the inspector is responsible for, or has reported upon.

(a) Home inspectors are prohibited from sharing any portion of the fee collected for home inspection services to any person other than: another licensed home inspector, employee or associate of the home inspector including a legally authorized trainee practicing under the direct supervision of the home inspector

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 12:40PM
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I agree and so does my RA. I told her to mention what I saw and heard to the buyers agent. She told me it has happened before and she was told about this company.

I know the inspector didn't know I was listening. I had left the house for a short time and he didn't know I was back. I was sitting in my sunroom and could hear them talking in the living-room. I heard him telling the buyer about a company in the area who installs chimney liners and it would probably cost $3-4,000. He said that could be a 'negotiating point.'

I called my fireplace man the same day and he came and inspected the chimney. He asked if the inspector looked up the chimney and I told him I didn't know. He showed me that the cracks in the facade weren't even where the chimney begins and was 4ft below where the liner is. He said he would love to be present when any inspection would be done because there were no cracks and the liner was like new. I told him the name I heard mentioned by the inspector and he said he knew the company and felt the inspector might have connections with that company. He felt there might be 'kick-back' on the chimney and the septic.

Who knows, but I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't heard what I did. I told the buyers we used the fireplace all the time and always had it cleaned professionally. If there was any problems, I would have been told by my chimney cleaner.


    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 1:14AM
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Most HI's who have good business sense will usually not refer a buyer to a specific company if further inspections are indicated.

First in foremost, in states such as NJ and NY, which are among the litigation capitals of the world, there is no benefit to doubling the risk of being sued..which is what would happen if for some reason the chimney/septic company was sued by the buyer.

However, IF the HI is getting kickbacks, then the doubled risk is most likely being offset by additional income.

And, of course, the kickbacks are a conflict of interest because the recommendation is then tainted and/or as in your case, apparently bogus.

The unfortunate thing is that with all of the licensing of the various professions involved in home buying and selling, consumer education is virtually non-existant....especially in respect to home inspections.

The NY and NJ State licensing boards should hang their head in shame in this respect.

In NJ, the state licensed home improvement contractors long after home inspectors. They have a very consumer friendly web page and information pamphlet.

The HI web page in NJ is a joke in terms of consumer education....eleven years after the law was enacted...and the NY web page, (the law has been in effect for almost as long) is no better.

That is why it is still a case of caveat emptor...for sellers as well.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 10:40AM
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You are right. This is my first time selling a home. After 35+ years you learn a bit about home owning. What I realized, while listening to the inspector was how little the buyers knew about owning a home. They are young, with two little babies and never owned a home. The husband didn't know what a septic was. Has no idea what a well is and really didn't seem interested. I spoke with them briefly after the inspector left, asked them if they had any questions about the house, he only asked how we get up the driveway when it snows. I told him we have a plowing service and I could leave their #.

That was it! Very sweet couple but 'clueless.'


    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 5:02PM
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We just had the home inspection on the house we are trying to purchase this past Monday. Got the report via email since I'm not there. Got the summary report and full report which includes pics.

Made my list of what I want sellers to fix, lots of little things really, a few larger things, but nothing major, thankfully. Now I'm waiting to see what they'll agree to fix from the list and what they won't. I'm hoping they'll agree to it all. I'm taking on the house with the knowlege that the roof and furnace are just a few years from having to be replaced, some big bucks. They should happily fix whatever I've asked, which isn't everything he found.

After I hear the answer back from them, I'll order the chimney inspection (they have to agree and pay to have it cleaned first) and then the termite inspection. It's a wait and see game at this point, but the first hurdle has been crossed.

Jane, when's your closing date?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 3:53PM
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I guess I was lucky, so far they didn't ask for anything except a late closing. That has us really annoyed us because it means moving in the dead of winter...Feb. 20. We just got the well-water test back which was good. The County requires so many different tests it is costing us over $500.00. Next week is the bank appraisal which does make me nervous as property prices have continued to drop in my area.

Debelli the buyers want a Feb. 20 closing, we requested March 9. I don't know if we will get it. I dread trying to move in late Feb. We are planning to rent for a year until my husband retires and this means we'd have to rent from Feb. 1.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 12:04PM
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Why do you need to rent from Feb 1 if you aren't moving until Feb 20?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 7:16PM
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The condo's we've been looking at only rent from the first of the month.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 7:38PM
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