Vol 8 No. 2 - October 3, 2007

Sellers: Consider pre-sale home inspections

By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

A home may be constructed of wood, stone and sheetrock, but every home has a personality with its own little quirks and irritations. Now more than ever, if you’re thinking about selling your property you’d better come to grips with your home’s large and small defects, and the best way to do that is to have a pre-sale home inspection, preferably before you even place your home on the market.

Why would you as a seller want to spend several hundreds of dollars on a pre-sale inspection? After all you are obligated by state law to disclose any known property defects. Well, therein lies part of the problem. Do you really know all of your home’s defects, or are you so accustomed to living with them that you don’t consider it a problem? You may in good faith think that your home is in tip top condition, but a professional home inspector employed by your potential buyer may see things differently, and it should be your mission to cut him off at the pass.

Let’s assume you and your buyer have agreed on price and terms, at which point they bring in their home inspector. The home inspector has come up with a list of defects in the property, some minor and a few major. In order to save the transaction and not have the buyer walk away to purchase one of the many thousands of properties currently on the market, you start to renegotiate either the sale price, or the repair cost or both. This is always an uncomfortable process frequently resulting in the defects costing more to cure than anticipated, and possibly leaving the buyer with less confidence in the property. In addition, pending repairs could push the closing date back, costing you even more money in carrying costs.

If you’re lucky enough to hold the sale together, it will have cost you funds you probably have not planned on, not to mention delays and a great deal of stress. Why would you want to put yourself in a position where you have no control when a pre-sale inspection could put you in the driver’s seat of the transaction?

A pre-sale inspection gives the seller the option of making repairs within his or her time frame and within an established budget. Better to make repairs or replacements at a leisurely pace where you can find the best contractor and the best price rather than be under the gun to meet a closing date. In addition, the fewer defects a buyer’s inspector comes up with the better overall perception the buyer will have of the way the house has been maintained. Some buyers will even accept a recent seller’s home inspection as proof to them of the quality of the property, so offering the written inspection report to the buyer for their review could eliminate problems down the road. Remember, minor defects could turn into a major event at a closing table.

In order to have your pre-sale home inspection really mean something to a buyer, be certain you employ an American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) certified inspector. Be sure you are provided with a full detailed report outlining all defects which will give you, the seller, the option of repairing, replacing or, at the very least, disclosing.

Selling property in a buyer’s market is a challenge at best. Contracting for a pre-sale inspection is a growing trend that can make the difference between an informed and smooth sales transaction, or no sale at all. Get to know the state of your home’s health before the buyer’s doctor makes a house call.

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