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Using the power of pre-inspection

By | Published: Oct 14, 2009 | 45 Comments

Imagine finally finding a buyer for your home, negotiating the offer, opening up escrow and beginning to pack your prized spoon collection when disaster strikes. The home buyer's pest and dry rot inspection has revealed issues that have caused the buyer to panic. Your sale is now in danger of failing!

While most states require that sellers disclose all known defects to a buyer, it's the unknown issues that inspectors are hired to find. These paid consultants have the tough job of crawling into the nooks and crannies of your home, the places most of us rarely if ever visit, to identify problems that can haunt the home buyer if not addressed prior to closing.

So how can you avoid a nasty surprise? One popular way is to consider the power of pre-inspections. A pre-inspection simply means you have your home inspected before you receive an offer from a buyer. The advantage to this approach is that if your home does have some challenges you can fix them before you receive an offer. Also by having a pre-inspection you may be able to outflank your competition by advertising the fact that your home has a "clean" bill of health which will potentially help you sell faster and for more money.

So what kinds of pre-inspections might you consider? There are a wide range of inspections that can be performed on any home and choices vary by region, which is why it is always best to consult with a local agent before deciding on which pre-inspections are right for your home. All of that being said, some of the most popular inspections include:

Whole home inspections - A top to bottom review of your home from the foundation to the roof. These inspections are often very extensive and include detailed reports on all of the systems of the home including plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, and structural components.

Pest and dry rot inspections - These inspections are focused on identifying evidence of active (and inactive) wood destroying organisms like carpenter ants and termites and the damage they may have caused. In addition inspectors will identify issues that can cause rot in a home like leaking water pipes, poor ventilation, earth to wood contact, and moisture problems.

Well and septic inspections - In rural areas many homes use well and septic systems for drinking water and sanitation. Inspections of wells focus on gallons per minute production and the safety of the drinking water while septic inspections focus on making sure the tanks and lines moving the waste water away from the home are functioning properly.

Pool inspections - In areas of the country where pools are popular it is common for buyers to request a pool inspection. These inspections often review the area around the pool for safety including the pool itself, the pool deck, pool liner, lighting, heating and pump systems, and filtration systems.

Roof inspections - A roof inspection will evaluate the current state of the roof system identifying problem areas such as missing tiles, valleys and flashing which may need repair, gutter systems, downspouts, and the estimated life span of the current materials.

Foundation inspections - Often a foundation inspection may be called for if a home is built on a soil type or area that has a history of slippage, or if the foundation is showing signs of fractures. In addition many buyers order a foundation inspection if a home is older or if the home has beams which are sagging due to a lack of support.

One word of caution: anything you learn as a result of a pre-inspection will no doubt need to be disclosed to a potential buyer (even if you don't fix it) because of disclosure laws. Check with a local agent or attorney for details in your state.

So where can you find a reliable inspector? One source is the American Society of Home Inspectors, the oldest trade group in the nation specializing in overall home inspections. In addition you may be able to find a trust-worthy inspector simply by asking for a referral from your friends, neighbors, or a local agent.


By ,  Wed Dec 23 2009, 17:07
Pre-inspection is a great idea, it helps you see what needs to be done to your home before it goes on the market. Should you decide to do the repairs before hand, you can get it done. This is a sure way of impressing your buyer and getting top dollar for you home.

On the othe hand, if you leave it to the buyer. Chances are, buyers will want to mark up the repair items. For example a water heater cost you $150 to service, the buyer may ask you for $1000 to get a new one instead.
By Juliette Bouchard,  Tue Apr 13 2010, 11:03
A pre inspection is a great way to give the sellers a "heads up" and perform some deferred maintenance before their home goes on the market. As a Realtor, I know good and well when it comes to the "inspection period" of the transaction, that emotions are high and both buyers and sellers can become sparing partners. Do your due diligence and education your clients on what may happen during this time. It could save alot of time, $$ and unnecessary anxiety for everyone involved.
By Anthony Perez,  Thu Jun 17 2010, 12:07
I agree a pre-home inspection is just as important as a termite inspection prior to putting the house on the market, on many pre-inspections we have located many severe defects that would have killed a sale later on.
By Robert Armacost,  Sat Jun 26 2010, 18:17
InterNACHI has a great program called Move In Certified, it allows a potential buyer to access the report from the inspectors website (secured of course).
Allowing full disclosure, but should not be used to circumvent the buyers inspection.
By Texasinspector,  Fri Nov 12 2010, 09:09
While pre-inspection may be useful for the truly honest and forthcoming property sellers, the disclosure issues will rule out most owners, I'm afraid. =-)
By Fran Rokicki,  Tue Dec 14 2010, 16:04
The pre-inspection would be good for a home with no one available, to let you know about the home. An estate, a foreclosure, etc.
By Elisabeth (Lis) Weinpel,  Wed Feb 16 2011, 13:27
Pre Inspections by sellers are great because you can get repairs done with the luxury of time to find the right repair person at the right cost instead of :"being under the gun" and having to pay whoever is available to do it because it has to be done within a time frame. However, I always remind my sellers that inspections are not black and white and the sellers inspector could find and point out things that your inspector did not find. So, I prepare them that there may be more items that turn up but at lease anything major will be pointed out by any inspector.
By John Edwards,  Mon May 9 2011, 17:53
One important point unmentioned previously is the fact that the Seller will be viewed as trustworthy for the pre-inspection of a home before listing. This move is typical of a Seller with a plan of action.
By Aram Arakelyan,  Mon Sep 12 2011, 11:30
Problems discovered and fixed beforehand will help the sales process.

Aram Arakelyan
Your LA Broker For Life!
By Shawn Ryan Rosa,  Tue Dec 13 2011, 10:19
This has been a hot topic on trulia lately. Personally, nobody in my local area (NJ) does pre-inspections. Its probably 1 in a 100 right now.
By Shawn Ryan Rosa,  Wed Dec 14 2011, 12:03
too many buyers will not trust an inspection report paid for by the seller
By Hesbon Kerongo,  Thu Jan 19 2012, 04:27
Pre-inspection is a good idea because it helps you to avoid lots of potholes that may arise when you buy your home. it really helps.

By Karen Guzik,  Fri Apr 6 2012, 09:29
It is money well spent!
By Beastie4u,  Thu Apr 26 2012, 11:26
You could probably use our help we help you prepare your house for sale in Austin and the surrounding areas check us out at http://savingamericaenergy.com or http://lonestarpainters.com. We can make your house more saleable!
By Stephanie Leon,  Sun Apr 29 2012, 18:11
Pre-inspection is a great Idea and will help sell your home faster.
By David Indermill,  Wed May 30 2012, 23:18
When Sellers get a pre-inspection the Sellers get educated on their home and can expect what the Buyers will find with no surprises .
By Matie,  Tue Jun 26 2012, 04:58
I always remind my sellers that inspections are not black and white and the sellers inspector could find and point out things that your inspector did not find. So, I prepare them that there may be more items that turn up but at lease anything major will be pointed out by any inspector.

By Samuel Jones,  Mon Jul 16 2012, 15:41
Good idea
By Patricia Croake,  Tue Sep 18 2012, 12:13
If a listing agent believes that the property has unfavorable conditions, they would and should have the seller hire a pre-inspection before the house is placed on the market.
With this information in hand, the listing agent has a better negotiating position for a buyer. We are always upfront about property disclosure and it is also part of our ethics that we disclose all property conditions.
By Jennifer Fivelsdal,  Wed Sep 26 2012, 21:30
Pre-inspection can be a great tool for the seller. By identifying issues ahead of time and fixing them. This will make negotiation easier when home is listed.
By Carmen Brodeur, JD,  Tue Oct 16 2012, 10:20
I think that it's a great idea for sellers to get a pre-inspection of the home.
By Ray Gaudet,  Tue Oct 23 2012, 11:56
I always suggest this if I have an inkling that something may need attention. Inspectors in my area will often do the report for a fraction of the price they would charge a buyer as well.
By Patrick Erb ,  Mon Dec 3 2012, 14:25
I agree with the article. As a home inspector, I want a robust and smooth real estate market. I truly feel bad when I have to present a not so positive report. I have never seen a bad experience for Sellers, Agents or Buyers when a pre-listing inspection was performed, acted upon, rechecked and disclosed.
By Chris Paglialunga,  Sun Jan 13 2013, 13:20
Pre-inspections are a plus. This gives sellers the opportunity to identify and correct problems with their home before the end buyer uses the problem as a tool for negotiation. Most repairs are minor and are worth the time, effort and money to correct before listing.
By Shawn Schwartz,  Tue Jan 15 2013, 10:14
It is always a good idea to get your home inspected before selling. It puts the buyers mind at ease and can speed up the closing time.
By Academy Inspections,  Sat Feb 9 2013, 15:37
The Property Inspection; Neither the company nor the inspector has any financial interest in the property inspected or is associated in any way in the transaction or with any party to the transaction other than for inspection purposes ( Seller or Buyer).
By Academy Inspections,  Sat Feb 9 2013, 15:47
Reporting FACTS for a fee at the time of inspection services and NOT at the time of closing. If waiting for the time of closing it is a financial interest. We do not recieve commissions.
By Joe Serino,  Thu Feb 21 2013, 04:48
I have done a number of pre-listing inspections in my career, although still less than 1% of the total. The concept was the same as it is now, to identify the current condition so that issues could be corrected or disclosed, thereby defusing some of the negotiations that typically occur after a buyer's inspection. What I do now is emphasize that, unfortunately, inspectors have varying degrees of experience and skill at identifying condition, giving context and elaborating remedies. Realtors often refer to this as "deal killing". If a pre-listing inspection can neutralize those potentials with a high quality objective, detailed and concise report, the prospective buyer gains immeasurable confidence going forward. Personally, I allow the report to be freely exchanged, which saves the buyer money. I would do a review for the buyer as a consult for a nominal fee. It works.
By Castellucci Laura,  Fri Mar 15 2013, 19:48
Having a pre home inspections is very helpful when negotiating the price and terms when presented with an offer to purchase. I always tell my sellers to save a cushion or a certain amount for home inspections repairs; but having the pre home inspection will be extremely helpful before receiving an offer to purchase. "an informed seller is a smart seller".
By Dianne Sylvester,  Thu Aug 15 2013, 16:03
Pre-inspections are great so that you do not have any issues that pop up unexpectedly. It is also a good idea to go through your home, take snap shots of each room, then review the pictures.
You may be shocked at what you see!!! Items you feel comfortable with may not appear so inviting to a prospective buyer.
By Brook Di Donato,  Sat Sep 14 2013, 08:02
Pre inspection. In all honesty the seller should have an yearly inspection as part of the yearly home maintenance to turn over to the new home buyer. Doing a inspection is great. But, would it not be better to have a current inspection to hand over to the buyer from the selling showing the maintenance and up keep of the property. I believe the seller should have it done prior to listing. So, he can repair, and take care of the items needing repair if any prior to sell. If he does not want to repair needed maintenance then that can be negotiated at time of bid process. I was a realtor for years. Now certified in 35 areas of home inspection. You have your car check why not keep up the maintenance of your home yearly. It gets you a better value for your home. And, avoids any surprises in the closing processes.
By debljohnson60,  Sat Nov 2 2013, 11:58
I bought a single family home 2 years ago, had the inspection done and the roof showed that it was the original (1980), even though the owner said it was redone in 2000, but he had no proof and there were no records stating this anywhere. I bought the house on a cash deal with an agent helping out. My husband is a contractor and feels the roof can go another 7-10 years, well I'd like to sell and I'm not sure how often an inspection should be done. Not sure how the market is either, I'd like to get what I paid and a little more. We did put updated appliances in and repainted the whole house in and out.
By Bev & Bob Meaux,  Thu Nov 14 2013, 17:51
Pre-inspections before selling aren't the norm here but some sellers do them or at least a diligent review of their home. Debjohnson60, the roof will probably come up again when you decide to sell. Have a local professional realtor review the market with you and the pro/cons of things you decide to do or not do. Good luck.
By Instantrenters,  Mon Feb 3 2014, 23:23
Pre-Inspection is a great idea. It lets you know the faults with your would be property which are otherwise not visible to the naked eyes. It is advisable to take the help of an experienced home inspector to carry out the job effectively.
By Scott Cary,  Mon Feb 24 2014, 20:12
Disclosure, disclosure, disclosure! The easy way to stay out of court...and have a happy buyer to to sell them a home with no surprises, so any pre-inspection is

Of course, buyers should still perform their own inspections...never assuming that all inspections are noteworthy.
By Jim Cramer,  Mon Jun 30 2014, 18:10
I agree with the idea of a pre-inspection. This is a very good way to find out early what might need to be done to the property early in the selling process. This can be very helpful with having a successful transaction.
By t2bhomeinspection,  Thu Sep 11 2014, 06:33
Pre-inspections provide Sellers TIME and INFORMATION, both of which can save $ in the long run. Once you have the Inspection report, you can contact multiple repair companies and obtain quotes for any items needing attention. If you wait until you have a contract, everyone is under a time crunch and it will end up costing the Seller more. I provide pre-inspections and would be glad to work with you: Top2Bottom Home Inspection, Woodie Wallace (405) 314-8984
By Doris Monticone,  Thu Sep 11 2014, 09:14
I always recommend to my seller's to have a pre-inspection before we list their home. The seller then has a choice to make any necessary repairs and/or disclose the repair to the buyer's prior to writing an offer.
I suggest the seller when possible, make the repairs and price the home knowing the buyer's more than likely will not be renegotiating the price down the road, or worst yet walking away because there were too may issues.
It goes back to maintaining a home and it's value for successful transactions.
By Rick Yost,  Sun Sep 28 2014, 09:21
I have had mixed results. It seems to be most effective in older homes. Almost all my clients have had their own inspection done anyway.
By John,  Mon Feb 9 2015, 11:31
A website like preofferinspection.com solves these problems. Inspection is done once for all to see and you don't have to worry about buyers being put off since they can access the inspection report for free. I think listing agents should try it out more.
By Molly Drumwright,  Mon Feb 23 2015, 09:05
A pre-inspection helps eliminate surprises for the sellers. You can identify your homes problems and have them repaired by who YOU choose and on YOUR time table, no the buyers. That is a great thing! If a buyer does not trust your home inspection results, they are welcome to pay for an inspection of their own.
By Mike Parker,  Thu Feb 26 2015, 07:04
This is a great tool to use. We do it a lot and it does eliminate any surprises for our sellers. It gives them a chance to get everything ready before the home hits the market so when it does hit the market, the home selling process will go more smoothly.
By Cathy Titchenal,  Fri Apr 3 2015, 19:45
Getting a home inspection done before you list your home for sale is one of the best ways to find out what you really need to do to get the highest market sales price possible. Think about it. If you know ahead of time what needs to be done to get your house ready for sale, you will have the opportunity to make those repairs and put your home in the best shape to sell. And even if you don't sell your house, you'll gain the peace of mind in knowing that any problems you've discovered with a pre-emptive home inspection can make your home a safer place for you to live too, once you've gotten those things repaired. Having an inspector look at your house with fresh eyes will help you find things that you maybe haven't noticed or simply gotten used to seeing, things that a buyer would probably notice too. I suggest that you have a home inspection at least a month and maybe two before you decide to sell. That way, you have the time necessary to get those repairs and upgrades done and really make your home sparkle. And get an agent to come take a pre-emptive look at your home in advance of listing it for sale too. Real estate agents are great sources of information about houses and about the current market conditions. They will be happy to help you get your home prepared by giving you honest and constructive feedback and hopefully, you will choose to work with them when the time comes to put your home on the market. Cheers! - Cathy
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