When the time comes to sell your home, you'll want to maximize your earnings. The cash that you earn from selling your home helps you to put a down payment on your next home, fund your retirement, or make important investments to secure your future. That's why getting a pre-listing home inspection — also called a pre-sale inspection or even a pre-inspection — is often a good idea for home sellers, even if you feel you know your home inside and out.
Typically, a home inspection refers to when the potential buyer is seeking more information on the home they're about to close on. Buyers want to know if there are any unexpected problems with the condition of the home before they make a massive investment.
Here, the seller is actually the one seeking to learn about the home before it even goes on the market — before it's listed — in order to get ahead of any issues.
Being proactive by getting your hands on an inspection report for your home can save you time, money, and from hassle. And in real estate, that's the name of the game.
Nobody wants to be surprised when buying or selling a house. That's why inspections are critical in the world of real estate. Luckily, sellers have the opportunity to get ahead of the process with pre-listing inspections.
Very similar to a traditional inspection, a pre-listing inspection is when you hire a professional home inspector to examine your property and identify whether you've overlooked something that needs to be fixed, updated, or otherwise changed.
The key part here is that you do this before you list your home for sale. This way, buyers don't discover these problems themselves — and then try to extract concessions from you in exchange for dealing with them. Pre-inspections are one way to increase the chances that you'll pass a home inspection when it comes time to close.
When it comes to your own home inspection, you're the boss. Therefore, you can decide exactly what your inspection covers. Want the home inspector to focus on specific issues, such as the aging roof or proof of potentially hazardous materials? No problem. You can also request a comprehensive inspection that mirrors what a buyer or their real estate agent might ask for.
You can also look into getting a mold inspection, termite inspection, radon testing, or any other review of your property that you think would be valuable to have on hand after listing your home for sale.
In general, a home inspection report that covers all your home's major systems; any damage to the foundation, windows, or doors; the presence of hazardous materials; and/or the status of any DIY projects that you handled is likely good to have on hand.
An inspection is an investment, however small, and enlisting home inspection services isn't quite as easy as ordering pizza on your phone. But there are a few reasons that making this effort is worth it:
Since home buyers typically ask for their own inspection before finalizing the sale, there's always a chance that the home inspector will uncover issues with the property. At a minimum, the buyer could negotiate a seller concession or request that you complete the repairs before the sale. But at worst, the buyer could walk away from the sale altogether.
By getting a pre-listing inspection and making any suggested repairs, a home seller can avoid any unpleasant surprises when it comes time for their buyer to seal the deal. And if you're looking to boost the resale value of your home, a pre-listing inspection can tell you what repairs are worth investing in. And as an added bonus, you can now market your home as the perfect turnkey property.
Not in the mood to repair your home yourself? If you want to avoid the hassle of home improvements and just sell as-is, you can get a few professional quotes for the repairs instead and share them with the buyer. That way, the buyer will know the exact cost of fixing the issue, and they won't be able to exaggerate costs and extract a larger concession when negotiating with you.
→ Learn what fixes are mandatory after a home inspection
Figuring out the perfect sale price for your home can be a tricky task. While any seller would naturally want to get as much money as possible for their house, an overpriced home is less likely to attract buyers and more likely to just sit on the market.
Not everyone has time to wait while their home languishes. And when a buyer does come through the door, they may drag you through a lengthy negotiation process to get the home for its true market value.
This situation is when a pre-listing inspection comes in handy. A home inspection offers a clear picture of the property's condition, making pricing much easier. You and your real estate agent can use the information from the inspection report, along with local market trends, to land on a price that will get your home sold. And with the pre-listing inspection, the prospective buyer has concrete evidence behind your pricing, which could curb their negotiation efforts.
→ Learn how long it takes to sell a house
Many states require sellers to be completely honest about the condition of their house. Since the majority of home buyers nationwide request a home inspection before purchasing a house, any of the information in question is likely to come out anyway.
By sharing the results of a pre-listing inspection upfront, your buyer knows that you (and your house) have nothing to hide. This transparency could even sway a buyer to purchase your home, instead of the one next door. This step could also save you time negotiating what to repair at closing, because you and your prospective buyer will have that conversation earlier in the process.
Time saved at the negotiating table can make for a less stressful and speedier purchase, which gets you your equity more quickly.
If you choose to go ahead and get a pre-listing inspection, do you need to share that information with potential buyers?
The answer is no, not exactly. Depending on where you live, it's likely that you'd be required to share any major flaws with potential buyers, especially if you are asked directly.
But if you do an inspection, discover an issue, and remedy that issue yourself before putting the home on the market? This is a good question for your real estate agent or attorney, because disclosure laws vary depending on where you live. That being said, it's unlikely that you would be required to tell a prospective buyer, "Hey, by the way, I did an inspection on the home before the house went on the market, and found some issues, but then I fixed them, so don't worry about it."
As discussed above, however, be in your benefit to share the results of a recent inspection with your buyers. Transparency and honesty are part of the bedrock of a good relationship between any seller and buyer.
Few people would choose to prolong their real estate transaction by haggling over minor repair requests and concessions. Besides the minimal and negligible cost — a pre-listing home inspection will likely cost a few hundred dollars, depending on where you live -- there isn't a true downside to pre-listing inspections. There is the possibility that you uncover something in your inspection that you don't think the buyer's inspection would have caught, but in general, knowledge is power and you'll be glad to have it.
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