Conflict of interest

Would there be a conflict of interest if the home inspector hired by the buyer has interactions with the seller during inspection? An example would be the inspector asking the seller questions relating to the home. Oddly, during my inspection, the seller was present.

According to your example, I do not see a conflict of interest.
I do not think it’s odd the seller was present. He lives there.
Approx 80% of my inspections the buyer & seller are both present.

What is your concern?

No. It’s a good way to gather intelligence about the house which will aid in searching out deficiencies for the buyer’s benefit. Sellers will often divulge valuable intel. It would be a missed opportunity if he did not exploit it.

Now, as to whether it’s an issue in your particular case depends entirely on the context of their conversation. There are certainly discussions that an inspector for the buyer should not be having with the seller without the client’s consent, such as his observations/opinions regarding the inspection, soliciting business, making deals to purchase things from the seller, etc.

Your example of an “interaction” with a seller is not a conflict of interest. There are examples of “interaction” that are conflicts of interest, such as receiving money from the seller or their agent, offering or agreeing to contract to repair or replace defects with the seller that were observed during your inspection, or sharing your report with the seller without your client’s permission.

Considering that there is always the possibility that your report to your client could result in the seller losing the sale and experiencing financial loss or hardship as a result, it is always a good idea to have someone present with you … or recording the conversation with the seller yourself on your cell phone … in the event that the seller might want to make a claim that you did act improperly.

Over the course of their careers, good home inspectors will upset many home sellers and real estate salespeople who were counting on the money from the deal they killed.

Yeah Jim!
There are many unfortunate times if I do a good job someone does not like me!