What the Heck Is a Pre-listing Inspection, and Do I Need One?

Congratulations on your decision to sell your home!

You’ve cleared out the clutter, touched up the paint, and put out a brand new welcome mat. You’re working your way through a checklist a mile long to make sure that your home sparkles. ​

But there may be one more task you should consider. Is it worth the time, effort, and money to order a home inspection before you even have a buyer?

The short answer? Maybe.

What is a whole-house inspection?

A whole-house inspection, or home inspection, is a thorough look at a dwelling, performed by a licensed inspector. He climbs up in the attic, crawls underneath the home, and carefully checks out every little detail to make sure the house is in good, working order.

After several hours of inspecting, he’ll type up a report with all his findings. This report is so detailed that it could run 30 or more pages.

Typically, this inspection happens when the home is under contract. The buyer chooses the inspector and pays for the service. This gives the buyer the opportunity to discover any major defects before they close on the deal. ​

If an inspector discovers problems, this is often a time for the buyer and seller to negotiate repairs or a lower sales price. If the issues are extensive, the buyer can usually walk away from the deal with their earnest money. ​

More and more, though, sellers are choosing to conduct pre-listing inspections. That is, the seller hires a professional to do this whole-house inspection before the home even hits the market.

Why shell out money for something that isn’t required?

There are a few reasons.

  1. By taking a pro-active approach, you can deal with problems before the buyer even sees them. Maybe there’s a little leak under the sink or a hole in the ductwork. The house will make a better first impression if these little issues are gone before the house hits the market.
  2. A seller who discloses that they have had a home inspection and made a few minor repairs appears to be an honest, forthright kind of person. Buyers feel more comfortable dealing with people they perceive as honest or trustworthy. This can help set the buyer’s mind at ease and ward off any feelings of “cold feet.”
  3. Perhaps the biggest benefit to ordering a pre-listing home inspection? Removing that element of surprise. You know the home is in good condition. You know that there aren’t any major issues that you’ll have to deal with during escrow. This peace of mind is invaluable. Surprise repairs can cause a deal to fall through completely or to not close on time. You can rest easy knowing that the buyer won’t try to negotiate a big price reduction in lieu of necessary repairs.

What are the drawbacks of doing a home inspection prior to listing the home?

As they say, sometimes ignorance is bliss. If you don’t know about an issue, you can’t address it. Once you are aware of it, you need to disclose. If the home inspector finds a material defect in the home, such as major foundation issues, you will need to let potential buyers know about it. I always recommend taking a proactive approach — let them know what the issue is and how you plan to resolve it. These may be challenges, but they don’t have to be deal-killers.

So, wipe down that baseboard, pop some cookies in the oven, and — oh, yeah — call the home inspector.

Freelance Copywriter ∙ Grants Professional ∙ Helping nonprofits get funding to do their amazing work.

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