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Can I Invite Friends and Family to the Inspection?

Now that you are finally in contract, you want to show off your hard work to your friends and family. You also want to know that you're making the right decision. After all, you are about to make a huge commitment. Once you sign the hundred or so dotted lines that your bank has for you, this house becomes your home for a long time. So, of course you want to invite your family and your closest friends. Should you?

As with almost everything, the answer is: it depends. If the house is currently occupied by the sellers, I recommend that you talk to your agent first. Your agent will likely know or being able to quickly find out if the seller is okay with more people showing up to the inspection. Most are, in my purely subjective experience, but it is still their home and polite to ask. Especially if you plan to do further negotiations, you don't want the seller to feel like you are disrespecting their privacy.

If the home is not occupied, it is less of a concern for the seller. It is still polite to ask, but you're even more likely to get a 'yes' in response if nobody is living there.

But what about your inspector? What do they think about this?

Some inspectors absolutely DO NOT want extra people at the inspection. The more people there are, the more likely someone is going to get in the way of the process, distract the inspector from what they are trying to do, or, worse, distract YOU from hearing what the professional you hired has to say. I have had all of these experiences, unfortunately. Once, I had a young couple buying their very first home. The father of the husband was present, and he kept pulling the husband away to show him materially unimportant things. They had paid me hundreds of dollars to tell them the condition of the home, but the dad kept me from actually being able to tell them anything during the inspection. They lost out on a valuable time with a professional because they were distracted by someone who had no background in building science.

Some inspectors don't like having other people present during the inspection for these and other reasons. But you are on my website, so I'm going to assume that you want my personal opinion. What does James of Hane Home Inspections fame want?

I don't mind at all. When I was new to the business, hordes of family and friends could be so distracting that I would sometimes miss things I should have caught. But I've been doing this for long time now, and I have a good system to keep track of what I am inspecting. And family and friends might have questions that you haven't thought to ask. During or after an inspection, I am always happy to answer any questions that come up, no matter who has them. Sometimes people ask questions related to their own experiences and I am able to put them and my clients at ease. For example, I have had clients' family ask about sump pump issues because they've dealt with flooded basements in the past. I can then explain the conditions that might contribute to those problems and how to prevent them, if needed. Inspections can also be overwhelming, especially for first time home buyers. Having experienced people present can sometimes be reassuring, because they can share their experiences with their own homes. It's one thing to have your inspector assure you that the sixty-five items on the inspection report are actually quite common and easy to fix, and another to have your friend or family member tell you they've got through the same thing and not to worry about it.

The following advice should go without saying, but sometimes people need to hear this. If your friends or family that you are thinking about having come to the inspection are super negative or prone to hysteria (what real estate professional jokingly refer to as "the helpful uncle"), maybe having them present during the inspection isn't a good idea. After all, when you hire me, you are hiring me to tell you all the problems with the home. I will do my best to keep everything in perspective, but if you've got someone present who thinks that a broken window seal should be the end of the deal, or that the seller needs to fix every little thing, it's going to be a rough ride for you. You can always tell them that they can't come. Blame the sellers if you want. Or even blame me, if you need to. Just remember that this is YOUR time, YOU are the one paying for the inspection and buying the house. You want to make sure that you can learn as much as possible. And if they really want to know the condition of the home and you are okay with it, have them give me a call after the inspection. I'd be happy to discuss things with them (with your written permission, of course).

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