Question: Over Easter dinner, I overheard someone - I think he was a Realtor - explain to a friend why he should have an home inspection done before listing his house. Isn't that wasting money? I always thought the buyer does the inspection?
Answer: You overheard sage advice. I'll explain.
Correct: buyers conduct their own home inspection to evaluate if a property has any functional flaws which might make them re-consider the purchase (note: in Florida, home sellers must disclose any major defects they know about or should know about – like a constant drip from the ceiling the seller decides to ignore and hope for the best).
But a seller's pre-listing inspection is not of money thrown out the window – on the contrary!
A seller’s inspection, also called a pre-listing inspection, gives sellers a clear understanding of the condition of their property. They then can fix any issues before putting the home on the market, or price repair and inconvenience to the buyer into the asking price. So it's not money thrown out the window!
I always suggest a pre-listing inspection to save my sellers money, aid in the efficiency of the transaction, and especially to reduce surprises that always – note: always! – arise from the inspection. But despite being such a great tool, it’s very often rejected.
5 Key Benefits:
1. Uncover any issues
A pre-listing home inspection provides sellers a clear understanding of the condition the home. Sellers can’t and don’t know everything that needs attention in their home, even if they think so. The inspection report lists all the issues the seller can address and fix prior to placing the home on the market, or lay out the issues to potential buyers up front. This results in saving the seller time and especially money – see below.
2. Save Money, reduce seller stress, prepare to negotiate
Seller’s inspections generally cost the same as a buyer’s inspection. But the inspection can provide immense value. Instead of having only a few days to fix problems after a buyer's home inspection, the pre-listing inspection will alert the seller of issues before the home is put on the market. This provides the sellers plenty of time to compare costs of repairs and negotiate prices without having a time constraint.
Typical example: nearly house has electrical problems that surface during an inspection. These items can seemingly add up to substantial amounts, because electrical issues are typically health- and safety-related, and inspectors err on the high side when estimating repair costs. However, when we have the ability to bring out a reliable electrician ahead of time, he can provide a true bid which is nearly always less than a buyer’s estimate. The seller then can have items repaired at a lower cost and without time constraints.
But even with pre-listing inspection reports, many buyers will opt to conduct their own inspections. Having a pre-listing inspection report in hand helps alleviate seller stress, because we already know what the other inspector will likely find, and we have already investigated related costs.
Also, by providing full disclosure upfront, along with any repairs that were made, buyers will have acknowledged the existing condition of the home. This reduces the risk of buyers from coming back to the seller and asking for more money off the sale price.
Fact: Avoiding repair surprises is a good thing for all homeowners, even those with no intention of selling. That’s why I recommend all homeowners periodically order inspections to confirm they’re maintaining their home in good condition.
3. Boost marketability, build buyer’s trust
Trust starts with a good first impression, and transparency is a key driver in trust.
Pre-listing inspections underscore that the seller is a proactive homeowner who cares about the home and has maintained it. In addition, sharing inspection reports from the outset sets up the expectation that the seller is communicating honestly with the buyer.
4. Encourage “cleaner” offers with reduced contingencies
In the current real estate market with very limited inventory, qualified homebuyers know they will likely have to compete aggressively. For the best properties in the most popular neighborhoods, buyers sometimes need to make quick decisions and limit contingencies to be competitive.
One of the goals of pre-listing inspections is to help homebuyers feel comfortable about eliminating or least reducing physical inspection contingencies.
5. Calm buyers' nerves during escrow
The best time to tell a buyer about property concerns is upfront, when buyers are most interested in the home and likely competing with others to purchase it. Pre-listing inspections allow buyers to see any solved or potential issues upfront, so they know there shouldn’t be a massive surprise if and when they conduct their own inspection.
Questions, experiences? Let me know please!
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Tobias Kaiser works as an independent real estate broker and consultant in Florida since 1990. Always putting his clients' interest first, he specialises in modern Florida homes and architecture, as well as net leased investments.