For many home sellers, waiting for the results of their buyer's home inspection is one of the most stressful parts of the entire selling process. Even homes that have been carefully maintained can be found to have condition or repair issues that the seller was not aware existed. In most cases, the issues are minor and relatively inexpensive for the seller to repair. When the issue is serious, however, such as a leaking roof or foundation problem, sellers may be faced with trying to save their home sale while struggling to cover the cost of an unexpected and very expensive home repair. In addition to the expense, home inspection issues also have the potential to cause closings to be delayed while repairs are made and may even carry a risk of cancelation of the entire sales transaction, if the buyer and seller cannot come to a workable agreement. But there may be a way for sellers to avoid painful home inspection surprises simply by opting to have their home pre-inspected by a certified home inspector before putting it on the market.
Timing the pre-listing home inspection
Home sellers who want to have time to repair any issues that the home inspector finds during a pre-listing home inspection should consider having the inspection done at least two months prior to listing the home. If a serious issue is found that requires hiring a contractor or ordering materials or supplies, an extended timeframe can help sellers successfully complete the necessary repairs and still hit their target listing date.
Understanding disclosure requirements
With the exception of lead-based paint disclosure, which is mandated by federal law, seller disclosure laws can vary greatly from state to state. In most states, however, sellers are expected to disclose any issue they are aware of concerning their property that may materially affect the property value or desirability.
Most real estate listing contracts now include a detailed questionnaire that sellers complete based on their knowledge of the home's condition while living in the home. If the seller opts for a pre-listing home inspection, sellers can disclose the issues found and how and when they were addressed. Including copies of repair bills and any re-inspection documentation showing the repair has been completed will help give buyers confidence that the issue has been resolved, and make it easier to keep the transaction on track and moving forward.
What to know about the actual inspection process
The pre-listing home inspection is much the same as any home home inspection that might be ordered by a buyer after a home is under contract. In most states, the current average cost of any home inspection will usually run somewhere between $200 and $475, for an average size home. Sellers can expect to pay more for an inspection on homes with above average square footage, or those that have architectural or design features that make the inspection process more difficult to perform.
Some home inspectors may also offer a no-report version of a home inspection that is less expensive because the inspector will not issue a formal, written summation of their findings. Sellers who opt for this type of pre-listing inspection will need to make sure they take careful notes during the actual inspection to aid with making the repairs and completing disclosure documents. It is also important for sellers to remember that the home inspector will be happy to answer questions about the process and any issues found, but they will not be able to offer cost estimates of making the repairs. Consulting with a repair contractor is the best way to get actual estimates of the scope and costs of any repair work that will be needed.
Preparing for a pre-listing home inspection
Getting the home ready for a pre-listing home inspection can make the job easier and safer for the inspector. To do this:
- Clear a parking space. Make sure there is adequate room for the home inspector to safely park and unload ladders and other equipment
- Ensure accessibility. Make sure that all areas of the home are easily and safely accessible, including basements, attics, garages, crawl spaces, roofs, and exterior walls
- Check lighting. Make sure light bulbs are working in all areas of the home
- Grant access. Make sure that the home inspector has a key or code to enter your home, if no one will be home to let them in
- Secure pets. Make sure that pets are safely kenneled or secured out of the way of the home inspection process
To learn more about the home inspection process and how having a pre-listing home inspection can be helpful, sellers should discuss the matter with their real estate professional. Their listing agent can help them decide whether or not this type of inspection is needed and provide references to reputable, certified home inspectors and repair contractors in the area.
Leave a Comment
* This representation is based in whole or part on data supplied by, and to, the Subscribers of Alaska MLS. Alaska MLS does not guarantee nor is it in any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by Alaska MLS is for its own use and may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. Report reflects sales through within 24 hours of the final report date.