Advantages of a pre-listing home inspection

Submitted by Daniel Schuerman, owner of Schuerman Inspections, LLC

With the national housing market still trying to absorb the higher than normal inventory of homes listed for sale, agents are looking for unique ways to market their listings and get them to the closing table – a job that has proven to be rather difficult in recent years.

The biggest difficulty in today’s saturated market is not lack of buyers. It’s the resistance of sellers to aggressively position their home to sell fast and for the maximum price possible. Most homes sold throughout the U.S. will have a home inspection completed by the buyer prior to the closing. For years, the home inspection process has been positioned at the end of the sale cycle. A home is listed, an offer is made, a contract is written and then just before the closing the home inspection is ordered. This leaves sellers, buyers and agents feverishly trying to fix, replace or get estimates for issues that arise during an inspection.

Due to the current market situation, some real estate agents are figuring out how to use the home inspection as a fast-track selling tool. These agents are instructing their sellers to have a pre-listing or pre-sale inspection performed. A pre-listing inspection, which is paid for by the seller or listing agent, provides a written report as to the pre-sale condition of the property. It could uncover any concerns that might compromise a sale.

These pre-listing inspections performed for the seller are now becoming the first step in fast tracking the sale. By moving the inspection to the beginning of the sales cycle these agents are able to shorten the process by removing obstacles before they can interfere with a potential sale. Pre-listing inspections are not new. They have been a part of the inspection business for a number of years but are rarely performed during strong sales markets.

During strong sales markets, the buyers purchase the home inspection to make sure there aren’t any surprise defects and to substantiate the purchase price. In an up market, sellers often have backup offers to consider if negotiations break down with the initial prospective buyer. Sellers forgo a pre-listing inspection knowing the buyer is less likely to walk away from the deal for fear of losing their best opportunity of finding the right property. Instead, they will have an inspection performed as a part of the contract.

In weaker sales markets when there are more properties available or fewer buyers, the seller is at a disadvantage. The buyer will sometimes use the home inspection not only to verify condition but also to negotiate the price down to cover repair and improvement costs. It is when a higher than normal level of homes are for sale that the seller can attract more buyers by pre-inspecting their home prior to placing the “for sale” sign in the yard.

Pre-listing inspections benefit all parties involved, and they are gaining in popularity. Selling agents are given time to help the seller decide what areas to work on to improve the homes appeal. They help the agent set the seller's price expectation and can be used to substantiate a higher asking price. Agents will have fewer issues to negotiate at the 11th hour, and buyers may even waive their inspection.

Sellers can choose who they want to perform the inspection and assist in providing details of equipment maintenance, supply dates of improvements and explanations for current conditions. They will gain more time to make repairs and compare bids on work to be done and can truly provide full disclosure to their potential buyers.
Buyers’ benefits include receiving a third-party review of the home’s condition before making an offer and can assist in procuring financing. The inspection can remove doubt regarding initial concerns and may reduce the stress associated with purchasing a home.

Pre-listing inspections may eventually become the more common home inspection performed and current market conditions may very well be the catalyst for the change. Either way, the importance of having a home inspection as part of the home sales process cannot be understated. It protects all parties involved by providing invaluable information to those involved so that educated decisions can be made. It is also important to be sure that your inspector is a member of The American Association of Home Inspectors or meets the requirements of your state.

Schuerman Inspections, LLC, is a Cincinnati-based home inspection firm that conducts pre-sale and pre-purchase inspections of new and existing homes. Schuerman has been a certified ASHI (The American Society of Home Inspectors) home inspector since 1997 and has conducted thousands of inspections in the greater Cincinnati area during the past 11 years.

As of June 23, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.


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Comments

Very good article! I wanted to add that there are three main home inspector associations that you want to make sure your inspector is party of. The largest is InterNACHI and holds their inspectors to high standards. There is also NAHI, which has strict regulations as well as ASHI.

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