So we recently encountered an issue that comes up infrequently for us, but it does come up: We arrive at a home inspection and the home owner makes it clear that they’re not going anywhere.
If you’re not in the real estate game and not familiar with the home inspection process, let me catch you up: it is customary for the home owner to be elsewhere while the home is being inspected. It’s not a law or written in stone or anything, but it is routine and most Realtors explain to their sellers that they will need make plans to leave the property and let the Home Inspector do his or her work.
Doesn’t always happen.
In an example from our own experience, we arrived at a property and were met by the very eager young home buyer and her father. Her dad had traveled seven hours to be there for the inspection. After introductions, I told them I would knock on the door and see if anyone was home. Boy, was she ever home. After I introduced myself, the owner, a nice looking older lady, said, “Well… YOU can come in, but they can’t,” pointing at the buyer and her father.
I stood there, open mouthed and staring. I had never had this happen before. Ever.
I was stunned. My mind was spinning. How was I going to tell this lovely, hopeful young woman that she was unwelcome in her prospective first home? I guess my dilemma was evident on my face because the owner followed up the previous verbal slap with, “They can come in when you’re done, but I don’t need to babysit total strangers for two hours.” I think I may have managed some succinct, clever retort like, “I see.” Then I reluctantly returned to the buyer and her dad as if I were addressing my own firing squad.
“Um… I’m not sure what to say here, but the owner says you can’t come in till we’re done.” Blank, uncomprehending stares, much like my own when given the news. Needless to say (people say that when they’re about to say it anyway) the Realtors sprang into action and although the seller apparently paid no attention to her own Realtor, the buyer’s representative arrived at the property right away and accompanied the poor, bewildered pair into the house to take measurements and do the usual looking around while awaiting their inspection results.
Happily, the opposite experience is more prevalent. Sometimes the buyer and seller get along famously and even become friends afterward (shout-out, Hillary! Hillary bought my house from me four years ago.)
Overall, we’ve had more positive experiences with home sellers than negative ones, but the result of my original example was that the buyer was so turned off by the terse and uncivil experience, it soured her on the whole transaction and she terminated the contract at the first opportunity.
Whether the owner stays or leaves is a multifaceted question, but luckily for me, the Realtors have usually addressed this long before our arrival because Rob and I could never dream of asking someone to leave us alone in their home. After all, they don’t know us. On more than one occasion, the owner has had personal issues that made their leaving home an impossibility (sick kids, recent surgery, a parent with dementia). Fortunately, in these situations, everyone was quite polite and all was well.
My point and my professional opinion is this: Listing Agents: This one is on you. You know your client. If they’re not exactly a “people person” do your best to get them out while the inspection is going on, but if you can’t, either give all parties a heads-up or try to be there during the inspection to smooth any ruffled feathers and/or keep them otherwise occupied. A good time for paperwork, perhaps?
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