By Bill Gassett – maxrealestateexposure .com
Should Sellers Have an Inspection Before Listing For Sale
Should a seller hire their own home inspector? Many homeowners will ask their real estate agent if getting their home inspected before they put it on the market is a good idea.
Having been a real estate agent for the past thirty plus years, I’m going to tell you that there are more good reasons for having an inspection than not.
As a seller, you know that buyers are going to need to have a home inspection conducted before they agree to purchase the property. But what if you were to beat them to it?
Getting a pre-listing home inspection offers some advantages to sellers that you may not be aware of. The biggest, of course, finding out the exact condition of the property.
Exceptional real estate agents are continually preaching to their seller clients about the importance of being ready for the buyers home inspection.
To help you determine whether a pre-listing inspection is right for you, consider the pros and cons.
Getting a Home Inspection Before Putting Home on The Market
Pros For Having an Inspection
- You find out what condition your home is in.
One of the biggest fears of most sellers is that when a buyer does get the home inspected, something will be discovered that kills the sale. This concern is undoubtedly justified. The home inspection is often the point where sales fall apart – leaving the seller to pick up the pieces.
But as the seller, you don’t have to wait for the buyer’s inspection. You can have your own done, and get ahead of any issues before ever listing the property for sale.
By having a home inspection before hitting the market, you’ll find out the exact condition of your home. Make sure, however, you pick an excellent home inspector. Like any other business, there are those who are considered exceptionally thorough and others who are not. There is no point in having your home inspected if the home inspector only catches a fraction of the issues.
In the reference above you’ll see some of the best ways to find a top-shelf inspector.
- Pricing the home accurately is much easier.
Choosing an accurate price for your home is one of the most challenging parts of the home sales process. It takes experience and skill to find the sweet spot – too high and buyers will stay away, too low and you miss out on money from the sale.
The best way to choose a price is to work with a Realtor experienced in your market, but even the best real estate agent will struggle with pricing if the state of the home is unclear. Having an inspection before your house goes on the market ensures that you have all the facts, which makes setting a price much easier.
- Minimize stress.
Not knowing if there is something wrong with your home adds a lot of stress to the sales process. Selling your home is never easy, to begin with. Worrying that the sale will fall through because of something that turns up during an inspection adds a thick layer of anxiety to your life that won’t go away until the sale closes.
Fortunately, you can wipe away that anxiety pretty easily. You just have to get your own inspection before listing. Something may or may not need to be fixed. A pre-listing inspection will let you know either way.
By getting the inspection done, you can feel much more confident about the current condition of your home.
- You can make repairs.
Most agents will tell you to make major repairs before you list your home. The buyer’s inspection will uncover significant defects, and you will be expected to repair them if you want to get full price for your home. The problem is that you will only have until closing to get the repairs done if you wait until the buyer’s inspection.
The limited time frame tends to put sellers on edge and leave them scrambling to get everything fixed in time. With a pre-listing inspection, you set your own schedule for repairs. There is no rush to list the property until you have made sure the home is in good shape.
You’ll be putting your home on the market with confidence you’ve corrected any large problems.
- Less likelihood of negotiations.
Quite often buyers will use the home inspection as a point of asking for additional concessions. They will use the home inspection as a means to renegotiate the sale. That’s because they know that there will probably be one or more issues that will come up warranting reconsideration of the price. Negotiating home inspections is a common hurdle in the real estate process.
Not many people enjoy it and for some if can become extremely stressful. You’ll find this to be especially true if the buyer and seller don’t see eye to eye which isn’t unusual.
Quite often buyers ask for inspection repairs they shouldn’t because they don’t get proper counseling from their buyer’s agent. There will be a long list of knit picking.
A pre-listing inspection helps you avoid the typical interactions that follow the buyer’s inspection. You are unlikely to learn anything new about your home from the inspection, and neither is the buyer because you have already had an inspection done.
Both you and the buyer have been aware of any issues and all repairs from the beginning of your interaction. Negotiations still may occur, but they will probably be minimal.
- Help improve the buyer’s confidence.
Anytime you can hand a buyer an inspection report that details the present condition of a home; you’re probably going to make them feel more confident about the purchase.
Buyers naturally are skeptical about a home’s condition until their home inspection is completed. For many folks purchasing a home will be the most money they will ever spend on a single Buyers will calculate what they can afford now combined with upkeep in the future.
If a buyer suspects that the house might have hidden problems, the offer he or she makes could reflect that. An inspection done before listing for sale can help eliminate much of the doubt about the home.
Knowing that a professional has already looked over the home carefully allows the buyer to make a confident offer.
- Make your real estate agents job easier.
Real Estate agents are used to selling homes without pre-listing inspections. Of course, most would prefer it if sellers did get a pre-listing home inspection. Knowing the actual state of the home allows the Realtor to do a better job for the client.
The agent can price the home more accurately, can negotiate more confidently, and can attract buyers more easily because buyers like homes that have been inspected before listing. Ultimately, making the Realtor’s job easier brings financial benefits to the seller.
The home inspection is the most prominent hurdle to clear in a real estate transaction. Once that is done most will breathe a sigh of relief.
Knowing that a home is in great shape makes a real estate agents job way easier!
Cons For Having an Inspection
Many people wonder what the drawbacks are for having a home inspection before you put your home up for sale. Here are the primary reasons:
- You will have to pay for the pre-listing inspection.
Inspections are not free, and just because you get a pre-listing inspection does not mean you will not have to go through a buyer’s inspection. The pre-listing inspection costs will come out of your pocket. The cost is arguably worth it for the benefits it offers, but some sellers may not have the funds to cover a pre-listing inspection.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $400-1000 for a general inspection depending on the area of the country you are located in. There are also additional things you may want to inspect for which the inspector may charge additional monies including:
- Testing for the presence of radon both in the air and water.
- Doing a well test for both the quality and quantity. See the guide for buying a home with well water.
- Testing for mold present in the home. See the guide for selling a house with mold.
- Checking for the presence of lead paint. Look over this guide for testing for lead paint.
- Disclosure laws may require you to disclose any issues.
Depending on the disclosure laws in your state, you may be legally required to disclose all the problems the inspection uncovers to the buyer. Whether disclosure puts you at a disadvantage largely depends on your finances.
If you have the money to make repairs, disclosure is not much of an issue. But if you cannot make necessary repairs, the defects you find through the pre-listing inspection may make it more difficult to sell your home.
What you have to disclose to a buyer when selling a home varies tremendously from state to state. Some states require full disclosure; others do not.
For example, in Massachusetts where I am located, we are what’s known as a Caveat Emptor state or “let the buyer beware”. The seller does not have to voluntarily disclose any defects with their home other than lead paint.
The seller must, however, answer a buyer’s questions accurately and honestly. So if a buyer asks if there is water in the basement, the seller cannot lie.
It should be made clear that Real Estate agents, however, are held to a much higher standard. An agent must make a buyer aware of any problem they know exists with a home.
By doing a home inspection before listing for sale, you would know about a significant percentage of problems. If you live in a state that requires disclosure, you now must let the buyer in on these issues.
Some would argue, who cares, as they will find out anyway once they do their own inspection.
Whether it is the law disclose or not how would you feel if someone concealed problems from you? Do the right thing and disclose any issues you know about.
- There will be two inspections of your home.
The inspection should not be too worrisome if you have had a pre-listing inspection and made appropriate repairs before listing. However, it is worth noting that you will still need to go through the buyer’s inspection regardless of whether you got a pre-listing inspection or not.
Make Your Real Estate Agent Attend The Home Inspection
When you hire a real estate agent, you want someone who is with you every step of the way. Your real estate agent should be your eyes and ears. With a home inspection being one of the most substantial hurdles to a successful sale, it makes sense that the listing agent should be at the home inspection.
Even though you have had your own inspection, don’t assume that the buyer’s home inspector doesn’t come to the table with different thoughts and opinions. Frankly, the chances are very high the inspector tells the buyer something very different than your inspector did.
Over the years I have seen the same home inspected multiple times with each inspector representing problems very differently. In fact, I have written about how some home inspectors explain issues in a frightening manor. On occasion, this is done intentionally. Remember every industry has folks who aren’t very professional.
You want your real estate agent there to have a complete perspective or what was represented by the buyer. Far too many times problems are blown out of proportion.
For Most Sellers a Pre-Listing Inspection Makes Sense
While certain situations make a pre-listing inspection undesirable, for most sellers a pre-listing inspection offers too many benefits to ignore. It is a proactive step that puts you ahead of the curve, allowing you to see the path ahead of you much more clearly.
You can plan better, rest easier and possibly get a better price on your home.
Speak to a few real estate agents in your area and get their thoughts on having a pre-sale home inspection done. More than likely the agents will look favorably upon doing one.