Not so long ago it was strictly buyers who commissioned a home inspection as part of the conditions of an accepted offer. Nowadays the pre-inspection is moving rapidly from trend to essential for placing your home on the market. Here’s why. Placing that pre-inspection topper on your ‘for sale’ sign is an indicator of your own confidence in your product and a powerful marketing device. This doesn’t mean any potential buyers won’t perform an inspection of their own once an offer is hammered out. In fact, I would deem it a necessity. But the pre-inspection has significant value for the seller for a number of reasons.
Knowledge is Power
The ramifications involved in identifying problems beforehand go far beyond the simple knowledge a pre-inspection offers. Buyers are wary creatures. They naturally don’t wish to be saddled with the legendary ‘money pit’ and are constantly on the lookout for ammunition that will afford leverage for forcing down the price. This, of course, is as it should be in a healthy market but part of the seller’s job is to ensure there’s as little ammunition available as possible. Leave the inspection to the buyer and you may find yourself scrambling to remediate an issue within the time frame stipulated in your agreement of purchase and sale.
The period pending finalization of a conditional offer is a delicate one. This is when buyers can, for many reasons (inspection issues, financing, disclosures, etc.), lose interest or get cold feet, demand refund of their deposit and simply walk away. During the time you, as a seller, have accepted the buyer’s offer, your property has an acceptable offer and the conditions are worked off in a timely manner and as outlined in the agreement. You may receive other and subsequent offers, however they are ‘back up offers’ so to speak and will remain so for the (unlikely) event your first offer falls through due to dissatisfaction of set up conditions. Whatever the circumstances, this is a period fraught with its own particular anxiety and stress. But discover problems beforehand, and it places you the seller in command. You can choose to fix the issues yourself or simply reveal them to any buyers along with valid estimates for their rectification. Choice is your ally.
From a buyer’s point of view, the pre-inspection portrays the seller as open and honest. It’s demoralizing to get excited about a home, place an offer and have it accepted and then discover major issues when an inspection occurs. Even the most seemingly pragmatic of buyers brings a degree of emotion to the process. A buyer who has been through this already by investing in their home inspector to find the chosen home is everything but what it seemed, or who has at some point in the past purchased the legendary ‘lemon’ will be gun shy. The enticement of a pre-inspection may be all that’s required to calm their fears enough to facilitate a viewing followed by a satisfactory agreement of purchase.
As is the case with sourcing a good realtor, having a top notch home inspector is just as important. An inspector referred by someone you trust is a good place to start. After that, ask questions. How much experience do they have? Are they graduates of a home inspection program, do they have practical familiarity with the construction trades? Some of the best inspectors have been journeyman tradespeople, often retired from the rigours of their trade, with extensive renovation experience. They may be specialists in a particular aspect of the building trade, and are familiar enough with aspects of all other sub-trades (electrical, plumbing, carpentry and so on) that they’re capable of auditing all of your home’s systems. The cream of the crop will be ‘Peter Parkers’, possessing a kind of spider sense that will alert them to issues intuitively before they even identify the causes.
Having ‘Uncle Bob’ do your inspection is probably not a good idea, assuming Uncle Bob’s not a qualified inspector or tradesperson. Certainly it’s not going to cut it as a valid inspection you can employ as a marketing tool. On the other hand, you will encounter buyers who’re willing to have their Dad, or their Uncle Bob, do their inspection. Also not a good idea as it can open the negotiation process to a host of issues if they don’t have the credentials to back up their findings, whatever their validity. It’s essential that any agreement of purchase and sale stipulate that inspections are to be performed by a licensed professional who can be held responsible for their actions.
Whoever does your inspection note their level of preparedness. If they don’t arrive armed with the right stuff then warning bells should be ringing in your mind. I’m talking about ladders and a good flashlight, moisture and electrical meters, and a thermal camera at the very least. A proper inspection could easily take the better part of a day and will involve every part of the home and should be followed by a consult and a detailed written report of findings. Beware the inspector who breezes through in an hour, fills out a brief checklist and asks to be paid.
Get in the driver’s seat
If your realtor hasn’t already suggested a pre-inspection talk to them about having one completed. Once you’re armed with the results of the inspection you’ll have some decisions to make on whether to fix some issues or just get quotes for the buyer, however, either way you move forward you and your realtor will be in control and closing on your home should be quick and smooth.
For more tips of selling your home download my free-book The Smarter Way to Sell Your Home.