If you’ve done everything possible to ready your home for sale, you can list it with your head held high, which helps in the negotiation process.

If there’s any doubt about the condition of your house, double down and pay for a professional opinion.

If you’ve ever sold a car, you probably spent time making it look as pretty as possible, cleaning it inside and out. You might have also shelled out for some minor maintenance. After all, a car is a major purchase.

So think about selling a house. If you expect someone to make what could be the biggest purchase of a lifetime, you want to ensure you’re selling a good product.

But how do you honestly assess your home? Here are some reasons to get a prelisting home inspection — and what to do with the findings.

A home inspection could save you money

If you don’t fix problems in your house and they show up on the buyer’s inspection report, you can reduce your asking price. But that’s not always the best financial solution.

“Typically, you will pay less for repairs if you do them in advance because buyers might add on extra to pad for unexpected repair costs,” says Ryan Gibbons, a New Jersey real estate agent.

It could speed up the sales process

Getting your house in the best shape possible should speed up the sales procedure.

“In order to ward off a long process of back-and-forth negotiating, if the repairs are already identified and completed, it could transform the time the house is on the market,” says Chantay Bridges, an agent based in Los Angeles.

You can feel empowered

“Having a preinspection done can give the seller a competitive edge in a buyer’s market,” says Rhonda Duffy, an Atlanta real estate broker and consumer advocate.

If you’ve done everything possible to ready your home for sale, you can list it with your head held high, which helps in the negotiation process. On the other hand, if you haven’t fixed a known fault and are just hoping the buyer doesn’t bring it up … well, that’s not ideal.

What are the deal breakers?

It’s all well and good to guess what a prelisting inspection might show, but the real issue is finding out what the typical deal breakers are for most buyers so you’ll know what you should seriously consider fixing. Recruit your agent for advice on what is a deal breaker in your market.

Brace yourself — most deal breakers are costly to repair:

  • Foundation issues
  • Mold
  • Gas leaks
  • Outdated electrical system
  • Water damage
  • Roof problems
  • Rotted fascia or trim
  • Leaky pipes

“Unless buyers want a fix-up project, they will usually stay clear from major repairs,” says Brad Pauly, an Austin, TX, real estate agent.

Note: If you’ve made additions to your home, make sure you pull the permits to show they were legal.

Is it ever a bad idea to pay for a prelisting inspection?

There might be plenty of reasons to get a prelisting home inspection, but some experts don’t like the idea.

Gary Lucido, president of Lucid Realty in Chicago, says sellers should get a home inspection only if they are willing to pay thousands of dollars to fix a problem. “Otherwise, just view the result of the inspection as an added closing cost.”

Some easy postinspection DIY projects

Can’t afford to make major improvements? You can still spruce up the house before you list it.

HGTV’s Chip Wade, home improvement guru and Liberty Mutual’s “New Beginnings” expert, shares these tips:

  • Install sconce lighting or a decorative arbor on street-facing garage doors.
  • Power-wash the driveway, vinyl siding, the front walkway, deck mildew, and patio furniture.
  • Dust talcum powder between seams of creaky floorboards to quiet them.

Bottom line: it’s often a good idea for sellers to get a home inspection

Waiting for the buyer to work through an independent home inspection could cause the deal to fall through. Even if you offer to fix a problem that comes up on the buyer’s inspection report, the home just doesn’t look as appealing anymore to some buyers, especially first-time ones who might be skittish.

“The seller inspection does not have to be shared with potential buyers,” says Michael Hottman, a Virginia real estate agent. So if you pay for a home inspection before you list, and take care of any problems before prospective buyers see the house, there will be no need to reveal the remedied flaws.

And in case you were wondering, “The cost of a home inspection is based on the square footage of the house,” says Rhonda Duffy. Expect to pay between $300 and $500.