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Should Sellers Have an Inspection Before Marketing Their Home?


By Beth Fedor

Seasoned home buyers and sellers know that when it comes to existing homes, most buyers will require multiple inspections before it’s a ‘done deal’.  However, many are not aware of the benefits offered in a home inspection to the buyer of new construction (see July article) or to the seller of an existing home.

In the SaddleBrooke market, homes that are 19 years old on average have, for the past year, lingered on the market for an average of more than 75 days while the lure of new construction in the area beckons buyers.  In this competitive market, one effective way sellers can offer buyers peace of mind and confidence is by having their home pre-inspected before putting it on the market.

As a seller, it’s easy to get attached to your home and overlook the wear and tear.  A potential buyer will not. After all, purchasing a home is a sizeable investment and buyers want to know they’ve chosen well. To do so, they rely on the advice of a professional inspector. Even though an inspection can make or break a deal, most sellers take a back seat and wait for the buyer to take the initiative in hiring an inspector.

Many savvy sellers pre-inspect their property with their own inspector prior to putting the house on the market. By hiring a qualified, experienced and certified home inspector, you’ll know the exact condition of your home and can take care of any issues that may arise more efficiently and cost-effectively in advance. In addition, you may now more accurately price your home and market it more confidently as a ‘no-surprises’ maintained property. As a result, you may sell your more quickly and for more money. While a seller inspection should not replace a buyer’s independent inspection, it can certainly help put the seller in the driver’s seat.

Here are some fundamental advantages of conducting a pre-listing inspection:

Know the exact condition of your home – Price your home more accurately

Pre-listing home inspections help define how your home will be positioned on the market. The home inspection doesn’t obligate you to fix everything nor anything that a report reveals (nor are you obligated to share the report!)  It simply helps sellers decide whether to market their home as a fixer upper, move-in ready or turn-key property and how to price it accordingly.

You can make the repairs in advance – Buy time and save money

Often, items that come up on a pre-listing inspection are much easier to deal with in advance, rather than while the clock is ticking during the 10 day inspection period. If you are aware of a major problem ahead of time, you’ll have more time to explore various treatment options and compare prices. You can choose your own contractor, rather than relying on a bid from the buyer’s contractor to do the work on a rushed timeline.

If you opt to rely solely on a buyer inspection, it’s not uncommon to only have 5 calendar days to decide how to handle repair requests from the buyer.  This allows little time to consult with qualified contractors and ponder remedies. After having their home off the market for nearly two weeks, sellers frequently settle for a greater reduction of the home’s pricing and end up unnecessarily leaving money on the table, rather than risking the stigma of putting a house back on the market.

Reassure prospective buyers – Gain the competitive edge

A pre-inspection is a goodwill gesture to buyers. It demonstrates a willingness to go beyond the expected and sets you apart from other sellers. You will be far more informed on your home’s present condition (especially you seasonal residents!) and can confidently show a buyer that issues have been taken care of for the property.

Minimize stress in the sales process – Close more quickly

One of the biggest fears sellers face is that the buyer’s home inspection is going to uncover something that will kill the sale. Not knowing what may be wrong with your home adds unneeded anxiety. Selling your home is never easy and worrying about what a buyer inspection will turn up adds unnecessary stress. The buyer’s inspector may discover problems you weren’t aware of, which could cost you unexpected expense and delay the sale. Worse, the buyer might even cancel the contract.

Knowing your home’s condition up front removes the stress and anxiety that the buyer’s 10-day due diligence period can induce in a seller. With a pre-listing inspection, you will know what items are important to fix and can rely on your inspector’s advice as you prepare your home for sale. Once under contract, you will likely sail through the buyer inspection, avoiding some of the nitpicking and additional costly concessions that can occur.

Hiring a Good Inspector

To find a good inspector, ask friends as well as your real estate agent for recommendations, request a sample of their reports, the extent of their field experience, and make sure that the inspector is licensed and certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors or ASHI. Expect to pay several hundred dollars depending on the size of your home, the number of systems (additional HVAC unit and pool/spas will cost extra) and the extent of inspections required.

Bryck Guibor, President for Arizona ASHI and its Education Director for over a decade advises:
Look for a home inspector with construction or engineering experience who is a current ASHI member. They’ve gone through years of training and must fulfill continuing education requirements to keep on top of annual changes of industry standards. A seller inspection will give you clear expert’s view of your home and ensure that you’re not blindsided by the unexpected. You should receive a detailed report with photos and a punch-list of items to get your home in its best condition for sale. Bryck also recommends having your real estate agent present during the inspection to get a clear understanding of issues so that he or she may best advise you moving forward what items buyers are going to focus on.

Prelisting Inspections are almost always a good idea

When it comes to home inspections, you can make a little mistake of paying for a pre-listing inspection and finding very little wrong, or you can make the big mistakes not paying for this inspection and being later blindsided by the unexpected. The reality is that a few hundred dollars spent on pre-listing inspections may, in the end, save sellers thousands of dollars. A pre-listing inspection offers to many benefits to ignore. Plan better, rest easier and, quite possibly, sell your home more quickly and for greater profit!       



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