Thinking of listing your house for sale in the near term? One option your real estate agent may mention is the pre-listing home inspection. A pre-listing home inspection is done by the seller of a house to prepare the house for sale. This blog will go over 4 compelling reasons to invest in a pre-listing home inspection from the point of view of a home inspector.
The first thing I have learned about pre-listing home inspections is that some real estate agents where I work highly recommend them and others do not. There is no one right way to buy or sell a house, so the decision you make should be considered a personal choice regarding how you want to approach positioning your house for the market.
The other thing to consider about home inspections, in general, is that there are always problems with houses. Approaching home buying and selling from the point of view of trying to make everything perfect is a laudable goal, but it can often meet with the harsh reality that every house has upsides and downsides. In some sense, choosing a house is choosing the maintenance issues you care to live with; there are no maintenance-free houses. Approaching home buying and selling from this point of view, it can be rewarding to be more forthcoming about the condition of a house as a means of more quickly establishing the right buyer for your home and weeding out the folks who are not quite right. Remember: every house is a great house for the right person at the right price. I have done inspections for builders who were looking for tear downs and complete fixer uppers that were just right for some buyers.
Here are the 4 primary advantages of pre-listing home inspections:
- Understand the condition of what you are selling. Pre-listing home inspections allow a home seller the opportunity to understand the condition of their home before choosing a price. Home sellers should not feel obligated to fix everything or even anything that comes up on this inspection. Some houses get sold as “fixer projects,” others as turn-key or move-in ready and still others as major rehabs or even tear downs. The condition of the building, as is uncovered during a home inspection, can help you figure out where your house fits on this scale. In addition, a detailed home inspection report serves as a blueprint for getting the house to the to the place on this scale where you want to position your house.
- Take control of home repairs. Pre-listing home inspections allow a seller to take control of home repairs. Often simple things can come up on a home inspection that can be made much more complicated when the clock is ticking under a pending offer. When surprises come up on a home inspection for a buyer, there may not be time to get qualified contractors out to further evaluate a finding such as a roof or a siding problem. Even though the roof or siding may be fixable, a buyer, working under limited time constraints, may simply ask for a new roof or new siding as a precaution, or they may ask for a repair to be done by the most expensive contractor in town or a surprisingly large credit or discount off the sale price. By tackling tricky maintenance and repair items on your own time frame, sellers can retain control over repairs to ensure they are executed in a professional and efficient fashion.
- Avoid coming back on: A pre-listing home inspection does not guarantee that a buyer will waive their inspection. Many buyers will still want to hire their own inspector. However, pre-listing inspections can reduce the risk that a surprise will be found when the buyer does a home inspection. Home inspection surprises can throw a monkey wrench into the sale and even cause the contract to fall apart. Then your house must, “come back on the market,” and valuable time can be squandered and the house may even have to battle a perceived stigma in the eyes of other buyers because the house went (STI) Subject to Inspection and then “came back on.”
- Reduce liability. It can become difficult for a buyer of a house to come back at the seller regarding an undisclosed defect if the seller has done a pre-listing inspection. This is a complex subject better suited to an attorney than a home inspector, so my knowledge on this subject should be taken with a grain of salt, but it certainly shows an honest intent to disclose the accurate condition of the building you are selling when you go to the effort of hiring an independent 3rd party inspector to do a pre-listing inspection and then disclose this report to home buyers. The buyer may wish to hire their own inspector, which is a good idea, but the effort at disclosure shows a more forthcoming seller. This is a personal decision that goes back to positioning the house and discerning how forthcoming you wish to be about the houses’ condition.
I hope this blog helps you see some advantages to doing a pre-listing home inspection. I could likely devote a 2nd blog to understanding the drawbacks, but I will summarize quickly here. You do have to pay for the inspection, so this is one more cost for a home seller to take on; a home inspection could cost between $300 and $1200 depending on where you live and the size of the house. You also risk discovering complex or expensive problems with the home that could get overlooked by a buyer.
As always, the most important thing is finding a quality real estate agent to work with who knows how to get a house ready for the market. Brokers who have successful track records of getting homes sold quickly and at a competitive price typically have their own personal formula. Once you select an agent to work with, it is often wise to trust the judgment of a professional who does this stuff for a living.
I hope this helps! Happy house hunting everyone!