If you’ve ever purchased a home, chances are you had the home examined by a professional home inspector. But, if you’ve sold a home (or are planning to do so) did you ever consider having your home pre-inspected prior to listing the property? This may not appear to be an issue. After all, isn’t it the buyer’s responsibility to do an inspection?
The simple answer is yes, and if you’re working with an agent who doesn’t recommend you hire an inspector to check out the house, you may be working with the wrong agent. But you should know that there has always been a huge debate among real estate professionals regarding pre-inspections. Here’s how the pro and con arguments usually play out:
Pro pre-inspection: An inspection may reveal latent or hidden defects that can be resolved before selling the house. An inspection may confirm defects that the seller is already aware of such as a failing roof, aging furnace or problems in a crawl space. The seller can choose to repair or adjust the price of the home based on the inspection in order to head off work orders requested by the buyers. The seller can feel confident that they’ve “done the right thing” by disclosing what was found in the inspection.
Con pre-inspection: Many brokers (and legal experts) believe that once a seller chooses to sell his/her home, they should not go looking for problems BECAUSE IF THEY FIND PROBLEMS, THEN THEY MUST DISCLOSE THEM! Why open a can of worms by finding out something you truly don’t know about your house? Some agents believe that they represent the clients, not the house; therefore, what benefit is it to the seller to have a pre-inspection at all? Many brokers believe that (as mentioned above) it is entirely up to the buyer to have the home inspected. If the buyer’s inspector discovers issues, then it’s up to the buyer to negotiate a solution. Hey, this is confusing!
In June of 2007 Ardell Dellaloggia, the principal writer for the informative and successful blog, Rain City Guide, wrote a post entitled: “Should a seller have their home pre-inspected?” There were quite a number of real estate agents and several inspectors who wrote in to express some strong opinions about pre-inspections. Opinions were more on the side of not doing the pre-inspection mainly because agents fear that advising an inspection can trigger a huge number of liability and disclosure issues. One indicated that sellers can often pay twice for a repair uncovered by the pre-inspection because the buyer comes up with other issues that cost the seller more money.
Here’s what I think:
1) During 2005-2007, when the market was clearly a sellers paradise, buyers were being muscled into doing their own pre-inspections before offers were even reviewed. Basically, when the market is hot, sellers have a take it or leave it attitude.
2) Now, things have clearly changed. With huge inventories, tougher lending practices and more patient buyers, the sellers find themselves in a difficult position. I know from my own transactions and those of my fellow listing agents, that the buyers are asking for more repairs, work orders and compensation for property defects.
3) Every property and situation requires careful consideration, but I believe sellers should have their homes pre-inspected. The seller needs to know this though: expect the buyers to do an inspection anyway. I believe the advantages outweigh the risk when the buyer’s inspector comes up with a report indicating that everything is “defective” or needs repair. The seller can then present an “expert’s opinion” as to the voracity of the buyer’s claims and a reasonable solution can be negotiated.
Finally, I used to do a large number of sales through 3rd party relocation companies. Whenever I listed a home for a seller moving out-of-state, it was common that the relocation company would have the home inspected (sometimes more than once) before going on the market. There were several instances when the buyers did, indeed, find problems with a home that the pre-inspections didn’t uncover. As I’ve mentioned before: no house is perfect, issues will arise and all parties in a real estate transaction should have a professional Realtor help them through the process.