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Home Pre-Inspection - the new real estate trend or … wishful thinking?

Updated on May 9, 2011

Being a home inspector puts me in an awkward position for writing this post because I don't want it to sound like a commercial about me. But, let me assure you that (at least in this case) I'll let you be the judge. In 10 years of my home inspection business-adventure, I was hired twice to perform my services for a house seller and once for a home owner who just wanted to know what their houses' overall conditions were. The rest of my clients where potential home buyers, which is probably typical for most home inspectors: inspecting a property for the buyer, and not for the seller.

I've asked those two clients who hired me to perform pre-sale inspection of their homes, "Why are you doing it? The prospect buyer will probably do its own inspection". And they replied, "Just to make sure that we don't have any unexpected surprises after signing the contract".

It happened 7 or 8 years ago, then came the crazy market, where everything sold no matter what was the condition of the property ... well, almost everything.

Is it worth it to hire a licensed home inspector for a pre-listing / pre-sale Home Inspection?

From the inspector's point of view, of course it is - it's more business. Actually ... it's a lot of business with the current real estate market. We would all (home inspectors) be working 24/7.

From a significant number of sellers' perspectives, it wouldn't be worth it. Why would a seller hire a home inspector if the buyer may not? The seller could have lived in that house for a long time and no problems ever occurred, why should anything happen now? Or a different excuse sounding a little like this, "I've already lowered the price enough / put so much into the house, that no matter what the inspector finds, I won't negotiate".

From a group of sellers that fully understand the entire transaction process, and take slightly different approaches, their answer may ring a little differently. Spending that extra money before putting their property for sale will give them peace of mind and often save frustration and unnecessary negotiations after the contract has been signed. Even some small issues expand dramatically when fueled with emotions, but remain small if corrected before any negotiations are even put on the table.

It's a good idea for the real estate agents (seller side) because they don't have to worry about the deal falling apart after the contract has been signed and a buyer's inspection performed during the attorney approval time. Good because they can stand 100% behind the offer they're putting in front of the buyer, giving him the true value of the home, knowing that checked and signed disclosure backed with a professional Home Inspection report and performed necessary repairs is accurate and not just another signed piece of paper.

But ... at the same time it might be a very bad idea for the agents. Pre-inspection could reveal some conditions which will cause their client to spend more money on repairs. It could extend the entire sale process and put them in a difficult position because they suggested pre-inspection to their client and now (s)he has to spend all that money on repairs, and sometimes, "branding" the house with attic mold, asbestos, or other issues. And all that has usually nothing to do with being honest or not, is just unpredictable reality. No matter how good we want to play our relationships with clients, there may always be something playing against us.

Most of us make purchases based on emotions, impulse, and usually that first impression pulling us towards that something we begin to fall in love with ... and then we swallow the price tag. Having a house presented with a "Pre-Inspected" tag will surely help the buyer to make that decision, but like with everything else, it's a gamble for the real estate agent and his client.

However, for all potential sellers and their Real Estate Agents who will decide to take a traditional path and wait for the buyer's inspector, let me provide you with a home inspection manual, a simplified inspection checklist. It's still a long list, but it should help you to recognize some major issues before all hell breaks loose - the last thing you want just before the closing.

My personal opinion ... even if there's a lot of good intentions in pre-listing Home Inspections, and it would work for many ... but because we're only humans, always looking for an easy way out, I'm very skeptical ...

and at the same time I'd like to be very wrong about it!


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