Confident your home is in tiptop shape before you put it on the market? Prove it to potential buyers by getting a prelisting home inspection, which could make you stand above the competition by touting your professional inspector’s official seal of approval.
Be advised, this backward tactic can backfire — the inspector may find a problem that needs some attention, and you will probably be required by law to disclose any flaws you know about on your disclosure form. (Sometimes ignorance really is bliss!) But if you have suspicions, a prelisting inspection can help you tackle larger issues before they become deal breakers. Making the fixes before you list that house in San Diego, CA, for sale gives you the ability to work on your own timeline, and with contractors you trust — without waiting for your potential buyer to weigh in.
What is a prelisting inspection?
Once you’ve decided to sell, you may have already started to invest time and money in cleaning up your yard and giving the exterior of your home a few touch-ups. Perhaps you’ve decluttered your home’s interior and finally cleaned out the garage. But what about that mold you didn’t notice above the shower? Or perhaps you doubt your 20-year-old roof?
During a prelisting home inspection, the reviewing professional will look for the same problems that often stall real estate contract negotiations when a buyer’s inspector looks at a property. The home will be inspected for foundation issues, leaky pipes or water damage, mold, gas leaks, an outdated electrical system, or rotted fascia or trim. Based on a home’s square footage, the cost of inspections generally runs $300 to $500.
Why would a seller get a prelisting inspection?
Some experts don’t like the idea of a pre-inspection, noting that sellers should be willing and ready to pay thousands of dollars if problems are found. Or, if the property is problem-free, the inspection just seems like an added closing cost. If your home is in a buyer’s market, however, a pre-inspection could speed up a sale. Some buyers may get an adrenaline rush when they see a completed inspection with items already attended to and checked off — they may even forgo a buyer’s inspection once the home is under contract. (We should all be so lucky!) However, a good buyer’s agent will most likely encourage a buyer to get an inspection anyway.
A pre-inspection can also give the seller a competitive edge in a buyer’s market: By knowing 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. Most of all, though, a pre-inspection also could save the seller money in the long run — especially if a major problem is detected in your review and you can make repairs yourself. You can choose your contractor and evaluate different estimates to remedy the situation — instead of just paying the buyer’s selected contractor to fix the work.
Also note that a pre-inspection doesn’t necessarily have to be shared with buyers, if the seller should so opt. And should the seller take care of any problems before prospective buyers see the house, there’s no need to reveal the remedied flaws.