Selling a house is one of the few times that you’re trying to sell something you don’t know that much about. As a real estate agent, that can put you at a disadvantage. You’ll need to decide whether to encourage homeowners to get a pre-listing home inspection, and there are pros and cons for both approaches.
Consider What You Know About the House You’re Hired to Sell
As a listing agent, you know more than most. You’ve seen the house, but you haven’t done the equivalent of a home inspection. Regardless, you certainly don’t want to get some showing feedback that tells you a buyer fell through a loose board on the porch during a showing!
It’s a similar situation to a car dealer selling a used car by talking about the wheelbase, number of passengers the car holds, how amazing the color is and what good care the previous owner lavished on the car. But, if that dealer never started the car or drove it, there’s a lot about the car he doesn’t know.
What Happens When You Don’t Have a Pre-listing Inspection?
If you wait for the inspection done by the buyer, a number of things can happen that don’t help the sale of the house.
- You may set an unrealistic price. Naturally, you will set the price based on market information, assuming that your listing doesn’t have any major structural issues. If issues are discovered later on, you’ll probably never sell for the original asking price.
- Buyers will probably set an inspection contingency on their offer. There is a very high probability that any offer you receive will be contingent on the buyer’s inspection. As you know, the more contingencies in an offer, the more there is to go wrong.
- You may be blindsided by the results of the buyer’s inspection. Waiting until the buyer tells you about a problem with the house isn’t a great strategy. At that point, your options are limited.
- The buyer will use the inspection to renegotiate the sale price. Sometimes even minor issues will cause a buyer to renegotiate the price. This situation produces additional stress for everyone involved, especially if the buyer is suspicious that the seller knew about some major fault and didn’t disclose it properly. Real estate deals often fall apart for this reason.
What Happens if You Get a Pre-listing Inspection?
The situation changes, mostly for the better because you and the seller have an opportunity to address any issues before you’re facing a buyer.
- You can make decisions based on the inspection report. For example, if the inspector believes that the roof needs repair or replacement, you can work with the seller to decide whether to do that project before listing, or to set the price of the house to account for the buyer taking that responsibility.
- Buyers will be less likely to get a second inspection. Sometimes a buyer will accept the seller’s inspection because they have confidence that there will be no surprises. That decision will remove the inspection contingency from the offer. Even if the buyer does a second inspection, it shouldn’t uncover anything that you don’t already know about.
- Your seller will need to pay for the pre-listing inspection. Inspection costs start at approximately $400 and go up from there, depending on the extent of the inspection and the part of the country you live in. Some sellers may not have the resources to pay for the inspection, or may think it’s not necessary.
- You will probably need to disclose any problem you find. Disclosure laws vary on a state-by-state basis, but you may be legally required to disclose all the results of the inspection. Assuming that the seller either corrected any problems, or set the sales price accordingly and disclosed the problem, the disclosure issue isn’t a big one.
Pre-Listing Inspections Give You More Control
You and your seller will be in control when you know the condition of the house. If you don’t make this a standard part of your marketing plan, you should seriously consider the pre-listing inspection if you or a homeowner has any doubt about their home’s condition.