I’ve had two blog readers contact me this week and ask this question: “who is legally entitled to be in the home during a home inspection.”
Well, I can’t give legal advice. I’m a former lawyer; I don’t practice law now, I’m a realtor. If you want a legal answer, you should ask your lawyer. But I did write a blog post about this a few years ago in response to a related question as to whether an owner can be present during a home inspection. https://peggyblairrealtor.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/can-the-owner-be-present-during-a-home-inspection/
I fall on the side of asking the owner to leave, although if they insist on being there, they have to stay out of the way. The buyer is contractually allowed to do the home inspection and since they are paying for it, the owner must not do anything to interfere with it. Following along and asking questions, or hovering about and impeding the exchange between buyer and seller, would be inappropriate and I’d be on the phone to the their agent in a heartbeat if that happened.
But I think what both readers were really asking is whether the buyer is entitled to have people other than the inspector present during the home inspection. My answer to that is that a home inspection should be for the inspection and nothing else. Until that condition is removed, the buyer has no right to access the seller’s property except as is otherwise provided for in the agreement.
There is probably a clause allowing a buyer to walk through the premises once or twice, and most buyers do bring other people with them when they do so. But the walk through is not the home inspection, and if they want to bring other people with them then, they should ask.
Personally, as noted, I try to keep sellers out of the house during home inspections, as you’ll see from the earlier blog post, and I think they should be absent during the walk throughs as well. These latter visits are opportunities for the buyers to take measurements, get quotes for work they may need, and show off their new purchase to family members.
(Although I did have sellers once who agreed to allow buyers a walk through to show their relatives and found out when they came home that the entire wedding party had been through, which was completely unreasonable.)
Anything that far out of the norm should be clearly communicated ahead of time, so the sellers can say yes or no. And so, for example, if the buyers want to bring in someone to measure carpets during a home inspection, their realtor should have advised that was their intention and the seller should be asked if that’s okay, since that is not really the purpose of a home inspection.
Most sellers are pretty reasonable, and would simply like advance warning. They have a right to know who’s going to be in their home while they’re away. Buyers need to remember that until they get the keys, it’s not their house. They should not take advantage of the situation by allowing unauthorized persons into the seller’s house without the owner’s consent. Whether it’s legal or not, it’s simple courtesy.