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Elizabeth, Home Seller in Pittsburgh, PA

Will an appraisal and pre-inspection prior to listing house help to sell it?

Asked by Elizabeth, Pittsburgh, PA Tue Dec 8, 2009

Will having a pre-inspection and an appraisal done right before listing help to sell a home? Or will buyers typically still want to have their own inspection done?
The appraisal will help us in setting a price, and I figure it would help prospective buyers know the house would appraise for the final sell price.
But if these things really won't help sell a home, I wouldn't do them. We know that ultimately a good price sells the home, but an competitive edge we can give ourselves I figure can't hurt for a few hundred dollars.

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Hi Elizabeth,

You've gotten a lot of great advice here. Here's my perspective as a consumer buyer/seller/landlord.

I agree to "forget the appraisal". You'll know what your home is worth via a thorough review of recent Sold comps, etc.

FYI: I love your town. I don't get there quite as often as I like but get out there usually once a month on average for business. Ah ... the Sharp Edge brewery! Belgian beer on tap at 1/2 price for happy hour!

I did have an inspector come out for a limited review of the last house that I sold. But, I had good reason to do so. It was new construction, 8 years old and had some areas of significant efflorescence on the basement walls (block construction). Efflorescence is white mineral deposits, like salt on the walls. I even had a bit of water that would seep in during a bad rain - not a lot but certainly something that had to be fixed BEFORE I listed.

An intelligent buyer often heads to the basement early in the process to find bigger potential issues. So if they walk down into yours and see that it's just as well-maintained as the master bathroom, that's an advantage.

Joe said "not all inspectors are created equal". I agree emphatically! If you go that route get the best! Mine is top notch, expensive and a certified engineer. He reviewed my basement, spent an hour reviewing things with me, advised me on what I should do, and provided a 2-page write-up. What did he charge me for this? $350. A bargain! His full inspections are $1500.

Still I had work to do after his report. I dug a 40' trench, installed pvc piping to get water away from the house, lengthened some downspouts, and painted the entire basement with 25 gallons of Dry-Lok. I did it myself and it ran about $700.

Many prospective buyers see all that Dry-Lok and wonder, "what is he hiding". In my case, they got an official report as to what I did and why - from a certified engineer. They were all put at ease. My $1050 bought lots of peace of mind for my prospective buyers - and an terrific advantage against others in the declining market of 2007. I managed to sell when others didn't.

Anyway I needed to do some things and I knew it. Your home I assume is older and it really wasn't bought all that long ago. Stuff can happen in 5 years but only certain things are more likely to be develop issues in that timeframe. Like a water heater that's been ignored each year, especially if you have hard water.

So, do you need a pre-inspection? I have no idea. But if your home is older, and you bought it 5 years ago and did a bunch of stuff then ... you may be ok from that standpoint. Certainly you will want to do a great job prepping and staging your home. We spent a lot of time to get the house looking just right and it really paid off - it was spotless and nice and open - everything that didn't need to be there had been thrown-out, donated or put into storage. A storage unit is a very good investment in making your home bigger! I highly recommend them.

Do some simple stuff though - if you don't have a $5 electrical tester, then get one and test all the outlets (you want all 3-prong outlets to have 2 yellow lights). Make sure the GFCI outlets work. Check out your hot water heater to see if there's any rust at the bottom. Do you drain and maintain it 2 times a year like we are all expected to? I do it now but didn't in my last home. Look at your boiler or central air system. There can be areas of mild rust that create un-needed concern. Rustoleum and spray paint take care of that. I guess my point really is - try and make it so that your home appears to have been well-maintained.

Your buyers inspector WILL find stuff - he has to. But, you can reduce how many things he finds to "mostly just BS whiny stuff" if you look around yourself. If you already have a radon fan, then whether you have radon or not isn't important. If you don't then you may wish to do a quick cheap home test. Amazon has these and they are cheap. They even sell a digital radon tester for only $130. If you will stay in PA and buy something next year then you may consider if it makes sense to buy one. Or an infrared laser thermometer for $45 - to spot hot/cold spots behind walls.

Anyway, I've rambled on enough for one night. You are smart to be trying to give yourself an edge. And hopefully there was something in all the above that will help. Feel free to give me a "thumbs-up", etc if that's the case.

Jeff
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 12, 2009
A good way to use the pre-inspection is as the basis for your disclosure: property sold, as-is, here's our inspection and disclosure. Buyers would be foolish not to have their own inspection, if only to verify your claims, but would have been advised that you're really only negotiable on items discovered, not disclosed.

Appraisals are worthless when selling. Whether your appraisal is high, low, or in-between, buyers aren't interested. It's like jewelry appraisals, it's great that Zales is appraising this diamond at $10,000; so, why are they selling it a $7,000?

So. Inspection, yes; appraisal, no.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 11, 2009
Elizabeth,

We are Realtors so our opinion is obviously one from that perspective. But, that perspective was pierced last year when we helped my mother sell our family home of 35+ years located in Bucks County. It was a really slow market at that time and we wanted to sell the home in a few months rather than the 6-8 months it was taking other homes to sell. So, my perspective as "just a Realtor" faded since I was more emotionally attached to the home as was my mother.

Collectively we decided that the old house certainly needed some repairs and we thought it would be a great idea to get a pre-inspection to get a good overview of what we might be up against when a buyer got their own independent home inspection. We did not want any surprises. The process of selling a home is a very emotional one that we can sometime forget when we wear the Realtor hat. This experience of selling my mother's home gently reminded us that our homes are an extension and reflection of ourselves.

We got the inspection done and decided to repair many of the items that popped up and adjust the price of the property to compensate for some of the items we were not interested in replacing or repairing. We decided not to market the property stating that we had done the inspection. That was not our goal. We did it for our own information and for disclosure purposes.

We did not do an appraisal of the home because we knew that the comparables were out there to properly price the home and that that the buyer would need to get an independent bank appraisal if they were to purchase with some sort of bank financing. The home went pending in 3 weeks in a slow market and settled in less than 45 days at a great price. I attribute that success story to the decision we made to get the pre-inspection. It eliminated the "fear of the unknown" regarding repairs and allowed us to confidently and intelligently price and sell the property fast.

I hope my experience as a Realtor and a Seller has contributed some useful info for your question.

Stephanie Somers
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
This may be an old posting, but it bears discussion. Basically there are 2 ways to look at property value: CMA and appraisal. (Of course there are others, such as AVMs which lack personal knowledge by the professionals.) A CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) is generally prepared by an agent/broker while an appraisal is prepared by a licensed and certified appraiser. The only value a lender will consider is an appraisal which is why an appraisal is ordered when you are financing your home purchase. A CMA is used by agents to look at comparable properties that are for sale or are sold to help a buyer determine if their offer is in range, or if a listing price meets the local norms. Best to discuss further in person with your agent. Thank you!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 12, 2014
As an inspector, I agree with the idea that you sould do a pre-listing inspection if you want to support your price and help it stick, and are not afraid of performing repairs or disclosing defects. It does take a lot of the re-negotiation out of play and that is often worth it to buyers.

However, as Sean correctly points out, any serious defects that you identify MUST be disclosed. While this is often a deterrent for some, you might consider that such serious defects would often be uncovered by a buyer's inspector and will cause you to have to concede to repairs or crediting the buyer for repairs. Identifying these items on the disclosure helps prevent the renegotiation, but it also may scare off some more nervious buyers.

I've never heard of a pre-listing appraisal, and I am fairly certain that most lenders will only accept appraisals from their own approved list of appraisers, so that may not have any real value.

Also, it is VERY important to understand that all inpsectors are NOT created equal, and none have the same background and experience, so they will all produce varying reports. Your inspector may be a former HVAC pro and be able to give you a thorough understanding of your HVAC system, while the buyer's inspector may have a strong electrical background and identify several more technical electrical items that your inspector did not. While all reports will be similar (at least on a large scale) they will not be identical.

This also works to your favor if you select a very thorough inspector, and the buyer does not.

Hope that helps!!
Web Reference: http://www.SherlockHI.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
I would highly recommend the pre-inspection prior to listing a property for sale. This will prevent you from negotiating your sales price twice. By this I mean, you will negotiate a sales price with the buyer and come to an agreement. Then the buyer has their home inspection and you must again negotiate repairs or credits for repairs with the buyer. If you have a pre-inpsection, you will be able to correct any of the inspectors findings, or disclose them to the buyer stating there will be no corrections. If the buyer would like to have their own inspection, they have that right. Sometimes, the inspector who did the pre-inspection will go through the house with the buyer for a fee.

I feel that an appraisal is only necessary if you have an unusual property that is hard to find comparative sales statistics. A real estate agent has access to the most recent sales in your neighborhood and can help you set an accurate sales price.

Spending your money upfront on repairs and staging is money well spent.
Web Reference: http://www.cindybodnar.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
Elizabeth, sorry this answer comes so late but: HELL YES it will help!

I love pre-inspected homes, especially in this market... you use the inspection to either price it appropriately or, even better, fix all of the issues and then put it on the market priced-to-sell! In this market, you should make sure you price accurately and hopefully the appraisal comes out ABOVE your pricing so you can boast once again that you have it priced-to-sell. If appraisal comes out below where you want to price it, then bite the bullet and list it lower than appraisal or throw the appraisal away lol.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 17, 2010
I hadnt thought of it before, but about a year or so ago, I wrote a blog which included a pre-inspection checklist. The target audience was realtors seeking to trouble shoot a home with buyers before submitting a bid, but it also works for peope trying to assess the issues in their own home before listing.

It isn't the same a as a pre-inspection, but it may be helpful to you or others.

http://activerain.com/blogsview/1021945/checklist-what-to-lo…

Hope it's useful!!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 13, 2009
Elizabeth, 5 years is a long time. Lots of things can happen. As an example only. I bought a car. After driving it for 5 years I replaced the engine, transmission, and found rust holes in my fenders and frame. It went to the junkyard where it belonged. An inspection of it when bought would not have showed those problems.

A house can be similar. You could have nothing wrong now. You may have developed some issues you know nothing about. Termites could move in, the foundation could settle, the roof could develop a leak you missed.

Probably none of the above did happen. Likely the only problem you have now is the roof (how old is it now) may be showing some age. Maybe some paint is not perfect. But what IF something bigger has happened? Would you want to know before or after you have a buyer ready to pay and then finds some problems both of you did not know about? An inspection would help you to avoid that potential problem. Is it worth it? Only you can say, it is your money after all.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 11, 2009
A pre-inspection can help you identify and fix any problems ahead of time which in a buyer's eye will be a good thing. Most homes aren't pre-inspected so it's not a neccessity by any means. I don't think an appraisal is necessary ... just make sure whoever does the CMA does a thorough job. The house will need to be be priced within recently sold comparables and be a better value than homes currently on the market.
Web Reference: http://www.eathompson.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
Thank you everyone - our house is unique definitely on our street, and in our area that we have a second full bath, big yard and 2 car garage where as 60% of the homes in the area do not. I didn't intend for the buyer to use that appraisal, but I think it would help show the home is worth what we are asking, and it would also show then if we are asking too much. (I don't want any surprises that we get an offer and it doesn't appraise for that value for some reason. That worries me)

We don't anticipate any issues with the inspection; we still have our report from 5 yrs ago when we bought fixed any issues.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
Those may or may not help to "sell" your house.

They WILL help you to know just what you have. Yes, a buyer will most likely get another inspection done. But by having your own done first you have eliminated some of your liability. You went in good faith and had an inspection done. You disclosed (or fixed) all problems the house has. You would not be able to be accused of (or sued for) not disclosing known defects.

The buyer will see the inspection report as a PLUS. They lose some, ok a lot of concern that they will spend $500 (or whatever amount) on an inspection and then find a house that needs to be condemned and burned down. Instead, they know from your report that the house should be in good shape as you shared the inspection report via your re agent.

If you read the posts on here you will find a lot of people who complain they spent to much money only to find serious problems a house (inspection report) had and then decided it was best to just walk away. Often the same house has had several inspections done will all the potential buyers leaving after receiving the inspection report and appraisal. It is shown not to be worth the money

Sometimes the same thing happens with appraisals. The house appraises for $150k even though the realtor's cma's said it should be $190k. At that point either the price drops to meet the appraisal OR the deal falls apart. Is it worth you spending the money for an appraisal, well, it depends. If your house comes in under the offered amount will you accept what an appraisal says then? If so it is not worth your spending the money. If not, you might as well as you will be stuck at the low appraisal amount as you can not sell it for more and may decide not to sell. Yet, you can always refuse to sell when the appraisal amount comes in to low.

(Conclusion below)

I would think from a logical rational perspective that a house inspection is worth paying for by the seller. That allows you to know what problems (if any) you are facing. It also allows a buyer to feel much safer making an offer on your place than another without that disclosure. (realtors arguments being ignored) Seeing an ad with "recent home inspection report available" posted is a great selling point. Make sure it is included in the description.

The appraisal would only be to give you an idea of what a mortgage would allow on the house today. That could change (up or down) in 3 months. You can get 3 appraisals and have 3 different answers. In reality, that is probably not worth your spending money on. You will have to live with the appraised value when you sell. Why pay for it first when the buyer will anyway?

Doing the inspection is a big marketing plus. But nothing can guarantee anyone will want or buy your house. Consider adding radon to the inspection list as some buyers will be concerned about it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
Elizabeth, please keep in mind that while it might make them feel comfortable, your buyer will not be able to use your appraisal for their purchase.

By Fannie Mae guidlines, the appraisal will have to be ordered directly by the bank.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
Hi Elizabeth,

Two great questons! My professional opinions on both items would mirror Cindy Bodnar's response. That is sound advice as you consider your options.

My Best,
Dolly Nicely
Achieve Realty Inc.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
Elizabeth,

It depends because once you do the inspection, you are now aware of problems and must disclose these in a sellers disclosure.

Personally I would wait and just know if something comes up, then you can negotiate.

As far as an appraisal goes, just have a realtor run a CMA and listen to what they say the home is truely worth. Overpricing your home does no one good. Price it right to start and everything will go smoothly.


Sean Dawes
Web Reference: http://www.SeanDawes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
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