I’m a firm believer that Pre-listing inspections can save time, money and stress.
A pre-listing Inspection can help you sell your house faster, get more for your house, and make the entire process less stressful. How? If you take a few minutes to read the rest of this, I’ll tell you.
It used to be that all you needed was “curb appeal” to sell a house. It also used to be that selling and buying a house was exciting, easy, and fun. Now its discouraging, time consuming, costly, and extremely stressful. Houses sit for what seems to be forever. Realtors are dumped in hopes that a new one would have better luck.
Eventually, the buyer of your house is going to conduct an inspection or possibly a rash of inspections/test on your house. I also explain what other inspections your future buyer will likely want. You can put yourself in a better position by already knowing what those inspections involve and what you should do to prepare. I am often surprised by the apparent lack of preparation by the seller, for buyer requested inspections. Sometimes seemingly totally blindsided by the request. Having a pre-listing inspection done will make the wholesale process easier. Find out about any hidden problems and get them corrected in advance, on your own terms. Or present the items in the disclosure statement “as is” and reflected in the purchase price. Otherwise, the buyer’s inspector may find them, at the worst possible time, causing delays, and costing you more money.
Curb appeal is still important but it is only half the battle to getting and keeping buyers. Today you also have to think about “Inspection Appeal”. I have inspected thousands of houses over the last 30 plus years. And for 20 years before that, I was a hands-on builder. I speak “House”. I know how houses work, what buyers are looking for, and I know what inspectors look for. I have dealt with thousands of realtors and I know that there are some good realtors and some bad realtors. The same goes for home inspectors. I offer nearly 5 decades of experience/knowledge and a wealth of practical advice that can help you sell your house and make the process easier and less stressful. This knowledge is not only about the house but I also have extensive experience and knowledge about the all the subsystems systems, inspections, and test that will also affect the sale of your house. (Septic Systems, Water testing, Termites, Radon, Mold, Environmental items, etc. (Note: Energy evaluations/audits are on the horizon) I often see items that, frankly, I cannot believe the agent didn’t inform the seller of.
I cannot tell you how many times I have inspected a house and find things that could have been easily addressed before the house was listed or a buyer shows up at the door. I can help eliminate and/or minimize these concerns. Thus eliminating problems and questions when the buyer’s inspector shows up. Many times these items are small, inexpensive items or even no cost items that if addressed, give your house better inspection appeal. Addressing small and medium concerns now will eliminate questions, problems, delays when you do get a potential buyer. I explain what options you have now and how items may affect you later.
You cannot control the real estate market, you cannot change the location of your house, you have no control over the buyer’s agent and you may have only limited control of your agent; but you do have control of how your house is viewed by the buyer and the home inspector.
If I find, or if you already know, that you need a new roof or a new furnace, but you really do not want to deal with it, I give you options on how to best handle in this in a way that will save you money and lower a potential stumbling block to the purchase of your house. It is common knowledge that if you have a defect, the buyer will want twice the amount it takes to fix the problem. If you are prepared, you can cut this possible deduction in half or even eliminate it. I guarantee that my knowledge and experience will educate/prepare you, help you sell your house and sell it faster, save you money, best prepare you for the inspections/test that will likely be done on your house, eliminate surprises, and lower the stress that goes with the selling/buying experience.
HOW? There are several ways you can get my experience and knowledge of nearly 5 decades of building, remodeling, inspection, and testing experience that will help you sell, sell faster and make the process less stressful.
- If your house is in good condition, your best bet may be a “Pre-listing Inspection”. This is a full house inspection and if your house is in good condition, the inspection report can be used to help promote the sale of your house. You can even list it as “Pre-Inspected”. (“Pre-Inspected” yard signs are available) The buyer will still likely get their own inspection but you will be prepared. Just the fact that you were willing to get your house Pre-Inspected and provide the report gives a good “Inspection appeal “to your house. it’s an indication that you are confident your house is is good condition. If you were purchasing a house and the owner already had it inspected by a qualified home inspector, wouldn’t you feel a little more confident about the purchase of that house?
Realtors in this area are aware of Pre-listing inspections but (in my opinion) they would rather take the chance on the buyer obtaining the services of a less knowledgeable, less experienced, less than thorough inspector. Or, an inspector that is sometimes referred to as “realtor friendly”. Unfortunately, the odds are in their favor. But if you happen to be one of the unlucky ones whose buyer gets a fully qualified, experienced home inspector like me, you may be in for some difficult and costly negations. Realtors are also aware that If you get a home inspection report on your house, it is considered a “professional” opinion and it is required to be included with the disclosure statement and available to the future buyers, and they tend to frown on any information that is negative about a house they are selling. See Pre-listing Inspection Cons below.
- Most owners think their houses are “not that bad”. Unfortunately, again, this is often not the case. This is why I offer a full inspection without issuing a report. I can provide you with all the same inspection information but no written report. This gives you the opportunity to get the information so you can address the concerns without having to include the written report with the disclosure statement. Then, after the repairs have been made, you may want a written report to help promote the sale of your house.
- The third option is a simple consultation. I visit the house, and for an hourly rate or a fixed fee, we do a walk-through inspection. I give you as much information as I can jamb into the time allotted, answer your questions, give recommendations and you take notes. This is not as extensive as a full inspection but it may be all you need/want. Often this develops into a full inspection once you realize how helpful the information I provide is. I still guarantee that the information will save you money, time and stress.
The following is a list of reasons Pre-listing inspections are a really good idea.
- Pre-listing Inspection allows you to see your home through the eyes of a critical third-party. It can help you to price your home realistically.
- It permits you to make repairs ahead of time so that …
a. Defects don’t become negotiating stumbling blocks later.
b. You can eliminate any delay in obtaining the Use and Occupancy permit. c. You have the time to get reasonably priced contractors or make the repairsyourself: if you are qualified.
- It may alert you to immediate personal or safety issues before agents and visitors tour your home.
- It can reduce your liability by adding professional supporting documentation to your disclosure statement.
- It can help relieve the buyer’s concerns or suspicions by putting a “positive spin” on your house. This may be the most important item.
- This one is listed last because the buyer of your house will likely insist on a professional home inspection performed by an inspector they hire. But there is a chance that the buyer may waive the inspection contingency. Particularly if a thorough, complete, exhaustive, inspection report is provided along with the disclosure statement. See “Inspection Report Sample”
Copies of the inspection report along with receipts for any repairs should be made available to potential buyers. See “The downside of Pre-listing inspections”
Curb Appeal vs. Inspection Appeal
Would you try to sell you’re old dirty, worn out car without at least running it through the car wash? Curb appeal would be to simply wash the car so it looks better when you try to sell it. Inspection appeal would be to wash, wax, change the oil, and maybe even have it serviced and provide receipts to the potential buyer. If your neighbor is selling the same car in the same condition with the same mileage but only washes it before selling it, which car do you think will get a higher price and sell quicker?
If you are selling a home, you’ll get the highest price in the shortest time, if your home is in top condition and ready to go. A pre-listing inspection may be just the thing to help you get it there. It used to be that “curb appeal” was all you needed to sell your house. If it looked good that was all that was necessary. Today, curb appeal may hook the buyer but “inspection appeal” will get the buyer on the boat. The pre-listing inspection will point out problems that can be addressed or repaired before you list the house. This can eliminate surprises or problems uncovered by the buyer’s inspector that can either cause delays, force you to re-negotiate, force you to pay for repairs at the last minute, or force you to take a lower price on your home.
Repairs your way and to your schedule.
It can take a lot of effort to get a sales agreement signed in the first place. If the buyer’s inspection turns up problems, they will likely want to re-negotiate the deal, have problems repaired, or have you give them a credit / lower price.
One of the key benefits of having the pre-listing inspection done is that if there are any problems discovered that need to be repaired, you can have the repairs done on your own terms, on your schedule. When a problem isn’t found until the buyer has their inspection performed, the buyer may walk, unless you act quickly to get the repairs done. (In a manner which satisfies the buyer) Or you may have to take a lower price, in order to keep the buyer happy. In either case, you’ll almost certainly have more headaches, and spend more money and time, than you would have if you’d known about the problem and had it repaired before you listed the house. You could save money by simply being able to shop around and get competitive bids from contractors, rather than being forced into paying for a rush job at the last minute or lowering the sale price a sufficient amount to keep the buyer happy. If you fix the problem before you list the house the buyer will have no say in how or when you do it.
Put a Positive Spin on your house. Get your house “Inspection Ready”
This goes hand in hand with “Curb appeal / Inspection Appeal”. I’m sure you have all heard of how our politicians put a spin on things to make them appear favorable to their particular position. You can do the same thing with your house. Any time a problem is found, it can put a “negative spin” on the overall condition of the house.
All houses have positive features and negative features. Sometimes, for the buyer, it’s as simple as comparing the positive list to the negative list. The shorter the negative list is the better the positive list looks.
If the buyer’s inspector finds problems, even small ones, it can put a negative spin on the house and cause the buyer to get cold feet and have doubts or unnecessary concerns. Along with a thorough inspection and extensive report including photos and diagrams, my pre-listing inspections also include hints or tips on how to give your house a positive spin. I point out little things that give the house that “positive spin”. Items that show me that the current owner cares about their house.
Here is an example. Let’s say that there is storage in front of your electrical panel making it difficult to access and inspect. First of all if the storage was excessive this would be a defect because there needs to be quick and easy access to your panel to shut down the power if ever necessary. I would simply inform/recommend that you remove the storage and make the panel easily accessible. If I’m inspecting a house for a buyer and I find this condition it makes me wonder what else is wrong. If this owner doesn’t have enough sense to keep safe access to the electrical panel what else do they not have enough sense to do? Adversely, if I’m in a basement full of storage but the owner has the panel and other items accessible for me to inspect, this puts a positive spin on things. It shows that the owner has enough sense to provide access to important components of the house.
Another example would be a missing outlet or switch cover plates. If I’m inspection an older house and even some newer ones I almost always find at least one outlet or switch that does not have a cover plate. This is not a big deal UNLESS you accidentally slip your finger into the gap that the cover plate covers and get electrocuted. For this reason, when I find this condition, it is a defect. But it’s a defect that can be easily repaired (almost anyone can install a 99cent cover plate) and if you are aware of it, you can eliminate it from that negative list.
I also point out Items that, if I’m doing an inspection for a buyer I may point out as plusses. As a professional home inspector, if I see these things, like a well-maintained house, I will likely point them out to the buyer. Carbon monoxide detectors, appliance access, clean gutters, adequate handrails, safety items.
List problems “As Is”
If you know what problems the house has before you list it and you simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of repairing or replacing them, you can benefit by simply offering certain items “as is”. List or include the items or problems found in the pre-listing inspection in the disclosure statement. If you disclose the problem you can stipulate that the condition is reflected in the purchase price. The same buyer may walk away from the deal if the conditions come as a surprise after an offer has already been made. If the home is inspected before the house goes on the market you will be aware of the condition of the house before an offer is made. There won’t be any surprises and the deal is far less likely to fall apart. It’s also harder for the buyer to come back to you and want items repaired, or wanting a credit if you include them in the disclosure statement. You put yourself in a position where you can say “I told you about that and I reflected it in the sale price.”
Pre-Listing inspection Downsides:
A pre-listing inspection including the extensive report that I provide is a good idea and it, can prepare you for or, eliminate future problems that may have to be addressed. However, there are some downsides to a pre-listing inspection that most inspectors will not tell you about because they want your business. I want your business too but not without you knowing about the following downsides to a pre-listing inspection. Please note that this is my opinion and not legal advice.
Once you have a pre-listing inspection performed on your house, legally, that inspection report should be included with the disclosure statement that you fill out and provide to the buyer. The report is supposed to be supplied to your future buyer along with your real estate disclosure statement. Sometimes it’s better to just let your buyer’s inspector do his job and then address the problems he has found. In hopes that the buyer’s inspector is either not as thorough as I am, or is more “realtor friendly” than I am. This is why I also provide inspections without the report and consultations/walkthrough inspections.
Here is an example. Suppose I do a pre-listing inspection and provide a report on the house you are selling and I find a significant problem but it is missed, overlooked or downplayed by the buyer’s home inspector. If you do not inform the buyer of my findings and they discover the problem after they move in, if they can make the connection, you may be held liable because you were made aware of the problem but you did not give them my report or include/mention the problem in the disclosure statement.
You also need to be aware that just because you had a pre-listing inspection, the buyer will still, most likely, get their own inspector/inspections.
Should Sellers Hire a Home Inspector, Too? The Pros and Cons of Pre-inspection
Every home buyer knows getting a home inspection to check out a property before closing is a good idea. The trickier question is this: Should home sellers also hire a home inspector to conduct a pre-listing inspection? That’s where you have an inspector scrutinize your property for problems before it’s even listed.
Is a pre-inspection worthwhile? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Pro: A pre-inspection means fewer surprises.
Regardless of who’s doing the hiring, a certified home inspector evaluates about 1,600 items that make up the property’s foundation, structure, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. The purpose is to uncover hidden and potentially expensive problems that could affect the value of the home.
For buyers, the results of a home inspection contingency in a sales contract can empower them to request repairs, reopen price negotiations, or abandon the deal without forfeiting their earnest money.
For sellers, the benefits of a pre-inspection are less clear-cut. At the very least, it offers some peace of mind: Identifying problems, or lack thereof, can soften the suspense of waiting to hear back from the buyer’s home inspector about possibly pricey repairs that might be deemed necessary.
Con: A pre-inspection costs money
On average, a home inspection will cost about $300 to $600. Because pre-inspections aren’t required, that’s cash you could put toward other things such as home improvements or repairs that you know will help sell your home. However, I have to add, the cost of a pre-listing inspection is many times worth it simply by the stress that it can eliminate in the very stressful process of selling a house.
Pro: A pre-inspection gives you time to fix problems
Pre-listing inspections give sellers the ability to fix problems ahead of time—and present buyers with a clean bill of health on the property. If you discover the items that are problems with your house and address them before the buyer’s inspector gets there your life will be easier.
Con: A pre-inspection doesn’t mean you’re in the clear
Just because you hired a home inspector doesn’t mean the buyers won’t hire their own—and their results won’t necessarily be the same.
“If you had 10 different inspectors out to the home, you would very likely get 10 completely different reports,” says Atlanta real estate agent Bill Golden. “Some of the issues that the seller addressed may not have come up at all. All in all, I think it’s a waste of time and money.”
In other words, even if you spring for a pre-listing inspection and address the issues that come up, the buyer’s inspector might have overlooked those problems—instead, identifying new problems that require more repairs. And because buyers will typically trust their inspector more than yours, they may demand that these other issues get fixed, too.
Con: A pre-inspection could obligate you to disclose these problems
Another downside to pre-inspections is that once home sellers are aware of a problem, they may be required by law to disclose them to buyers. These laws vary by state, so ask your listing agent for more specifics. Generally, bad history—flooding, sewage backups—must be disclosed if you know about it. And because this could perhaps scare off buyers or complicate negotiations, it’s no wonder that some sellers may prefer to stay blissfully ignorant.
“Not that you want to hide anything,” Golden says, “but you may be shining a light on things that may not have ever become issues if you hadn’t hired an inspector. It creates mountains out of molehills and prolongs the process.”
That said, McGavic thinks a seller has a “moral if not legal” obligation “to find out if there’s anything wrong with their house.”
In other words, it might be the right thing to do. So, is a pre-inspection right for you? There is no right or wrong answer, so it pretty much boils down to whether you prefer to nip potential problems in the bud, or wait and see if they develop.
If you are selling a home, you’ll get the highest price in the shortest time, if your home is in top condition. And you want to find out about any hidden problems before your house goes on the market. Almost all sales contracts include the condition that the contract is contingent upon completion of a satisfactory inspection. This is known as the inspection contingency. Buyers will insist on a professional home inspection performed by an inspector they will hire. If the buyer’s inspector finds a problem, it can cause the buyer to get cold feet and the deal can often fall through. At best, surprise problems uncovered by the buyer’s inspector will cause delays in closing, and usually, you will have to pay for repairs at the last minute or take a lower price on your home.
It’s better to pay for your own inspection before putting your home on the market. Having a pre-listing inspection done will make the sale process easier. Find out about any hidden problems and get them corrected in advance, on your own terms. Or present the items as is and reflected in the purchase price. Otherwise, you can count on the buyer’s inspector finding them, at the worst possible time, causing delays, and costing you more money.
One of the key benefits of having the inspection done early is that if there are any problems discovered that need to be repaired, you can have the repairs done on your own terms, on your own schedule. When a problem isn’t found until the buyer has an inspection performed, the deal you’ve worked so hard to get done may fall apart unless you act quickly to get the repairs done. Or you may have to take a lower price, in order to keep the deal moving. In either case, you’ll almost certainly have more headaches, and spend more money, than if you’d known about the problem and had it repaired before negotiations began. You could save thousands by simply being able to shop around and get competitive bids from contractors, rather than being forced into paying for a rush job at the last minute. Another area where you can save money is in having the flexibility to choose the materials used in repairs. Sales contracts usually specify repairs must be made using materials of comparable quality. By identifying needed repairs early, you’ll have the option to save money by using less expensive materials for the repairs.
You can also benefit from simply offering certain items as is. Often, you can negotiate with a buyer to accept items in the current condition by stipulating that they are reflected in the purchase price. But that same buyer may walk away from the deal if the conditions come as a surprise after an offer has already been made. If the home is inspected before the house goes on the market you will be aware of the condition of the house before an offer is made. There won’t be any surprises and the deal is far less likely to fall apart. It takes a lot of effort to get a sales agreement signed in the first place. If the inspection turns up problems, the buyer will want to negotiate a new deal and that second sales agreement is usually even harder to get done than the first one.
By having a pre-listing inspection done, you can identify problems early. Then either correct them or present them as is, assuring that the first offer you accept can move quickly and smoothly to closing without delays or costly surprises.