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Allowing Clients on Inspections: A Do or Taboo?

ALLOWING CLIENTS ON INSPECTIONS: A DO OR TABOO?
 September 28, 2021 |  Business Tips, Inspection Tips |  client satisfaction, inspection industry, business growth, networking

By Jon McCreath, NPI, Inc.'s Technical Supervisor & Training Administrator

If you ask an inspector their thoughts on allowing clients to follow along on inspections, chances are that you’ll get one of two different answers. One camp will say that it’s necessary for clients to be present, while the other will argue that it can create more headaches for you. You might have even run into this conundrum yourself trying to decide where you stand on allowing visitors on inspections. So which route should you take?

Weighing the Pros
First, let’s start by taking a look at the benefits of allowing clients to tag along. Home inspectors can be criticized for their work because not everyone understands it. Sometimes a customer gets confused because of how an item is described in a report or you didn’t inspect something they think you should. Allowing a buyer to come with you on the job can help clarify the scope of your inspection. They’ll see what it is you do and how you do it, giving them the knowledge to better understand your final report. This can also help prevent allegations of you damaging the home during your inspection.

Weighing the Cons
Now let’s go to the other side of the aisle and see what the negatives are. If you work by yourself, you probably have your inspection process down to a science. You can get in and out of a job in an efficient manner and keep things moving smoothly for your agents. Accounting for others might slow down your inspection. A particularly inquisitive client will make your time on site even longer as you try to thoroughly answer all their questions. It’s not uncommon for busy parents to bring their children to the job site as well. Then you have to account for the children’s safety and ensure that they don’t get in the way.

Sellers
To get a little more specific on who should be present at an inspection, we’ll start with the seller. Typically, it’s not advisable for the seller to walk through with the inspector. Sometimes during an inspection on behalf of the buyer, we would come across situations where the seller wanted to also be present. This is challenging in that they aren’t technically your client, but it’s still their home. In these instances, I would discourage them from following me around since they weren’t my client. Sellers are obviously going to be protective of their home. Imagine you’re in their shoes trying to sell your house quickly for the most money possible, but it all hinges on an inspection. If they attend the inspection, you’ll probably feel as though they’re hanging over your shoulder the entire time. Along with being a distraction, it could lead to arguments and potentially lost business.

Buyers
Buyers on the other hand might be good to allow along on the inspection. Purchasing a home is a major investment, especially if it’s their first one. You don’t necessarily have to extend an open invitation to them to come on the inspection, but if they request to attend, it can be a good opportunity for you. I always maintained that it was the buyers’ decision on whether or not they wanted to attend, and I never discouraged them from attending. However, if their desire was to attend the whole inspection with the idea that they were going to follow me around, I would attempt to place some boundaries around that. I politely asked that I be allowed to focus on the inspection and answer questions at the end, not as I worked. You can build a reputation of trust by allowing buyers on the job--they’ll see you have their best interests in mind and want them to make a good investment. They’ll be able to see you’re thorough and care about them as a client. You’ll build up your customer service skills and create stronger relationships.

Agents
If the buyer decides to attend, encourage their agent to come with. Most agents, if they attend, will show up at the end for the review of findings. I found that this was an opportunity for them and the client to hear what I had to say, without one having to tell the other and losing something in translation. I also thought that the agent attending the inspection was good for them in showing their client that they were going to support them through the entire real estate transaction process. As it pertains to listing agents, they might not want to be at the inspection. Most likely they already know what they need to, if they had a pre-listing inspection performed. However, it can depend on state laws whether the agent needs to be at the inspection.

You Have the Final Say
It’s important to know your state laws to understand who officially needs to be at an inspection. But for those whose attendance isn’t necessary, it’s up to you to set the parameters. Remember, you have the final say and you want to be sure your inspection isn't going to be affected by guests.

For more information on allowing clients on inspections, reach out to Jon McCreath at jon.mccreath@npiweb.com.

 

About the Author
Jon McCreath, Technical Supervisor & Training Administrator
A former NPI franchise owner and real estate agent, Jon joined the NPI corporate team in 2019. With his inspection expertise and foundation in classroom instruction, Jon teaches and mentors new franchisees during their two-week training course in Omaha. He also handles technical support calls during and after office hours and guides franchisees through the state licensing process.


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