The Scoop on Home Inspections

Is there a state law requiring agents to be present at inspections?

I had a broker call me and state that it was a state law, all inspectors must have a broker with them at all times when entering a home for inspection. Rather, isn’t it true that because seller agreed that buyer could have an inspection, seller gave permission for the inspector to enter the property so long as inspector provides proper notification?

illustration of a house viewed with a large magnifying glass

There is not a state law requiring that an inspector have a broker with them while in seller’s home. However, the Agency Law makes a broker accountable for seller’s property. Accordingly, when a broker uses the broker’s MLS key to provide access to an inspector, then broker should absolutely be with inspector and observe inspector while inspector is in seller’s home. This is for the benefit of both seller and inspector and is intended to safeguard seller’s property. Because broker allowed access to the property, broker should be present while the inspector is in the home.

If the inspector accesses the property in some way other than through broker’s MLS key, then broker is not responsible for what happens while the inspector is in the house. In that case, it is not imperative for broker to be present with inspector. The Hotline Lawyer does not agree with the statement that because seller agreed to allow an inspection, that constitutes permission for the inspector to enter the property with proper notification. Seller agreed to allow buyer to hire an inspector to inspect sellers’ home. Seller did not agree to allow a broker to provide access to the inspector and then leave the inspector unattended. Again, if the inspector gains access without broker’s assistance, then broker is not accountable for seller’s property during the inspection.

Annie Fitzsimmons, Washington REALTORS® Legal Hotline Lawyer



Is it a conflict of interest for a REALTOR® to use their relative to do inspections? He is licensed. If not, does it need to be disclosed that he is a relative?

Presumably, broker is not "using" the inspector to do inspections but rather, broker is recommending or referring the relative to a buyer or seller and the client is then hiring the broker’s relative to do the inspection. This distinction is important because it clarifies the important fact that the client must be the one to make the decision about which inspector is hired. With that as the premise, the rest of the answer is simple. The Washington Administrative Code (WAC) requires a broker to disclose to a consumer, at the time the inspector is referred, the fact that broker shares a business or familial relationship with the inspector. Said differently, broker MUST disclose the familial relationship broker shares with inspector to any client or consumer to whom broker refers the inspector. As a matter of smart business practices, broker should also refer inspectors who are not related to broker so that the consumer has the ability to make a real choice.

Annie Fitzsimmons, Washington REALTORS® Legal Hotline Lawyer



Having a home inspected by a licensed professional provides buyers with a lot of value and security.

A thorough home inspection provides the buyer with a clear understanding of the home’s current condition—including the structure’s foundation, exterior and interior surfaces, roof, attic, crawl space and all major systems. A home inspector also takes the time to educate the buyer about the home—how to operate appliances, turn off the main water line, adjust the water heater and thermostat, and change air filters. Having a home inspector on site to walk a potential buyer through a home’s intricate processes and details is invaluable and can give everyone peace of mind during what can be an exciting yet stressful time.

Sellers must also be put at ease knowing the home inspector is unbiased in their reporting and not just working on behalf of a buyer or their REALTOR®. The home inspector has a duty to provide honest, detailed reporting regardless of the benefit to the buyer, seller or REALTORS® involved. It is important for a reputable home inspector to work accordingly and disclose all issues discernible with the home. That’s not to say the home inspector and REALTOR® shouldn’t work together—they should. Establishing that relationship is in the best interest of everyone involved.

Importantly, when working with a home inspector, make sure they are state certified and licensed members of the professional industry. A good inspector will address any defects confidently and with resolution. Look for an inspector who can provide a technically accurate inspection but also possesses the skills to clearly communicate the findings in a non-alarming yet understandable fashion—someone that makes you feel comfortable, knowing their demeanor and professionalism will be a direct reflection of your business and office as well.

Bob Twaddle, Owner/Inspector, WIN Home Inspection Woodinville. WA State Licensed Home Inspector #1293 ASHI Associate Member #258413

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