Should Sellers Get a Pre-Listing Home Inspection?
A pre-listing home inspection is something I rarely see homeowners want to do. I can count on my fingers how many times I’ve had a client agree to one and while I see both sides of the story I think the benefits of having one outweigh the drawbacks. I’m not going to say one is needed on every single home but, more often than not I do recommend one be conducted.
The majority of the time a buyer is going to have a home inspection conducted, even if the market is competitive and it’s a void only contingency an inspection is highly likely going to be part of the puzzle that has to be put together before closing can happen. If you possess a solid idea of the condition of your home and the opportunity to fix any major problems before going on the market you lessen your risk of your home sale falling apart.
Let’s look at the pros and cons!
Identifying Serious Problems Upfront
Surprises and real estate are not a good match. Finding out you have a serious moisture problem before you list is far better than finding out once you’re under contract.
Timing For Repairs
In Virginia, most homes close in 30-45 days and in a typical situation the home inspection contingency is 7-10 days after ratification. This puts pressure on sellers to get any agreed upon repairs done FAST. There’s no time to waste. If you know about them before you list your home you control the timing and can get multiple estimates and have the work done without the pressure of a closing date looming over you.
Cost-Effectiveness For Repairs
Timing also plays into the cost of repairs. Whether it’s a contractor of your choice or the buyers if you’re on a time crunch your options for who can do the work in the allotted timeframe may be limited. If there isn’t enough time to complete the repair or if the buyer requests a credit you can bet they are going to want more than what the actual repair costs due to the burden being placed on them to then coordinate the repair after closing.
Fewer Repair Requests
If you’ve already taken care of any deal breakers or large repair items it’s less likely you’ll get a laundry list of repair requests from a buyer. The overall condition of your home is revealed during an inspection and it can either leave the buyer feeling comfortable or make them want to run.
I’ve never met a buyer who didn’t appreciate a transparent seller. You can’t get more transparent than sharing your pre-listing home inspection along with repair receipts for any items you took care of. It sends the message to buyers that you’re not trying to hide anything.
An inspection report is an excellent tool to have – not only does it allow you to advertise to buyers up front that your home has been professionally inspected it also gives you a great comparison tool to use when the buyer obtains an inspection as well.
POSSIBLE BENEFITS (keyword – POSSIBLE … not always going to apply)
Higher List Price
If you get an inspection done and based on the findings determine you need to replace your HVAC or have a new roof put on you may find your agent recommends listing higher than if they’re old and in need of replacement. This is going to apply to significant replacement items, caulking the bathroom isn’t going to make a difference on your list price so you’ll want to rely on guidance from your agent when it comes to what will impact the list price.
The less there is to negotiate on the faster closing can occur. If repairs have already been identified and completed you’re setting yourself up to be able to close faster. Now, not everyone wants to close fast so I understand this might not be seen as a benefit for every buyer and seller but, even just knowing you’re waiting to close and everything is ready to go vs. worrying over repair negotiations and timing for repairs is a benefit.
Based on my experience the odds of another homeowner completing a pre-listing inspection are low. Think about if a buyer is torn between your home and another home. Knowledge of your pre-listing inspection could sway a buyer or even attract a buyer faster. There’s something to be said for peace of mind when it comes to the condition of a home and that goes for buyers and sellers.
A pre-listing inspection is going to cost you somewhere in the range of $300-$600 depending on what size and type of home you have.
Doesn’t Replace The Buyer’s Inspection
Although it’s possible the buyer will waive their inspection if you’ve already had one done it's not likely. The majority of buyers will still want to hire their own inspector and quite frankly they should. The pre-listing inspection is provided to a buyer for information only, not in lieu of the buyer having an inspection conducted.
No two inspection reports are the same. Don’t expect for something new or different not to be found during the buyer’s inspection if you’ve had a pre-listing inspection. Inspectors are human and that factor alone means there’s going to be varying opinions and findings.
This is going to vary greatly by each state so I won’t go into much detail but, I will say in most states if you know of a serious issue with your house it needs to be disclosed. Some states require far more disclosure than others so this is something to check with your agent about.
This post was inspired by a comment from Jay Markanich, Northern Virginia Home Inspector who has also experienced the majority of homeowners opt not to have a pre-listing inspection conducted. Think about the confidence you could have when buyers come through the door of your home knowing that you’ve done everything you can to get your home ready to sell.
Have you sold a home before and conducted a pre-listing inspection? If so, were you glad you did?