One of the most joyful times for a home seller is when they get word that their home is officially under contract. The moment right after that is when the fear sets in for most of them. Fear of the upcoming…dum, dum, dum – whole house inspection. That’s right, most sellers fear what the home inspection will uncover and that their beautiful home will be picked apart by the home inspector and his or her team. Oddly enough, most buyers are also quite nervous about the home inspection. What if the home that they are in love with turns out to be a lemon? What if skeletons in the closet are the least of their worries?
The best solution for eliminating anxiety from the inspection process is a pre-inspection. I have mentioned them before, yet I don’t think that I have given them enough credit for ensuring a smooth sale. A pre-inspection is a whole house inspection that is completed prior to a home going on the open market. Once the pre-inspection is completed, the listing agent and their client can then sit down and prioritize the repairs that must be done in order to ensure a smooth sale. We usually target any active leaks, safety issues (electrical issues, carbon monoxide risks, etc.), structural concerns and the like. The goal is to identify the items that any buyer would want fixed, and then fix them prior to listing the home for sale.
But aren’t you just opening a can of worms by doing a pre-inspection? No. The buyer of a home will most likely complete their own home inspection. And when they do, their home inspector will more than likely find a similar list of items to those that the pre-inspection uncovered. The difference is that when a seller uncovers needed repairs during a pre-inspection, they can be proactive with the repairs and they remain in the driver’s seat. When a buyer discovers deficiencies during their inspection, they are now in the driver’s seat and will do their best to get as many repairs completed by the seller or perhaps a credit towards repairs. The major difference is that the buyer is making repair requests of the seller after the seller has perhaps already negotiated the sales price of their home. When repairs are made from a pre-inspection and the home is marketed as pre-inspected, the pre-inspection then helps to defend the list price of the home.
Here are some other benefits to a pre-inspection:
Higher bids for the home. In a multiple offer situation, we have found that buyers are willing to bid the price up more aggressively when there is a pre-inspection because they know what they are buying and they have a clear understanding of the overall condition of the home.
Fewer surprises. I learned at Houston’s many years ago to never surprise your boss. Once your home is under contract, the buyer is kind of like the boss. You don’t want them to be surprised by some unexpected defect with your home. This surprise could have an adverse effect on negotiations, or even worse, cause them to cancel the contract. The seller then gets to go back on the market, but this time with a black eye. Future buyers will wonder why the first buyer cancelled. Regardless of the reason, the seller has lost leverage at this point.
As-is – two very sweet words to a seller’s ears. We have been performing pre-inspections on our listings for almost 3 years now and in many cases, a buyer has accepted a home as-is or in its present condition. They may choose to perform their own inspection just to get another perspective, or they may not. Either way the seller is not responsible for any further repairs.
Good faith. A seller who provides a pre-inspection on their home is in my opinion operating in good faith and is going above and beyond. I am a firm believer that you get the energy out of the sale that you put into it. A pre-inspection is good energy and starts the buyer/seller relationship off on a good note.
Limited opportunity for recourse. Pre-inspections which are disclosed to the buyer prior to contract almost eliminate the argument that a seller failed to disclose – in the event that something fails on the home after the sale is completed. I am not a lawyer, however, it seems to me that it would be hard to argue that a seller withheld material facts about their home when they provided the buyer with a fifty page pre-inspection. The rule for all sellers should be “when in doubt, disclose.” A pre-inspection coupled with a thorough seller’s disclosure statement should certainly eliminate any doubt.
If you have any questions about the pre-inspection process or would like a referral for a great inspection company, feel free to email me or call me at 913-825-7540.