We asked several agents — Stephen Gabauer with Century 21 New Millennium in D.C., Damon Nicholas with Coldwell Banker Realty in Fairfax, Va., and Michele Monti with Century 21 New Millennium in Annapolis — for advice on the pros and cons of a presale home inspection. They replied in emails.
Do you recommend a presale home inspection by homeowners?
Gabauer: I recommend a home inspection before listing because it helps sellers understand potential challenges and can serve as a marketing tool if the property is in good shape. If there are minor fixes, it gives the sellers an opportunity to make quick repairs. Plus, providing a home inspection report promotes transparency and trust with potential buyers.
Nicholas: Until recently, I haven’t recommended them because the buyer won’t accept the seller’s report anyway so why pay for it. Now there is a new dynamic. Many buyers are thinking they have to waive the home inspection to get the contract. This is very unnerving for a buyer to go in blind to the condition of the house. The result is that, more than any other time in my career, buyers feel so much pressure to buy that they just get overwhelmed. They get nervous and find a way to cancel the contract based on the contingency that requires a review of homeowner association documents. Or they choose to do a home inspection that allows them only to cancel or continue the contract rather than negotiate on repairs, and then get alarmed at a number of little things and void the contract. If the sellers had an inspection done beforehand, that would put enough knowledge in the buyer’s mind to allow them to feel comfortable to move forward.
Monti: In normal markets I always recommend a pre-list home inspection. Assuming the seller makes recommended repairs if suggested by the inspector, this will allow for a smoother transaction and no surprises. I have had sellers opt not to get a pre-list home inspection and live to regret it.
Is a pre-sale inspection a substitute for a buyer’s inspection? Does this benefit the sellers, the buyers or both?
Nicholas: I always suggest that my buyers conduct their own home inspections to ensure they have all the appropriate information.
Monti: Pre-sale home inspections are abbreviated versions of a full home inspection that mostly focus on the bigger ticket items such as the heating and air condition system, the water heater, the roof, the attic and the electrical systems. This benefits both buyers and sellers. Sellers will likely receive an offer without a home inspection contingency and buyers can purchase with confidence knowing the home is in generally good shape and that their offer is mostly competitive.
Gabauer: A pre-sale inspection serves as a great substitute for buyers. Buyers will receive the same home inspection report to make informed decisions with their purchase offer. A pre-inspection benefits the seller because the offer will not include a home inspection contingency. If the property passes the inspection, the buyers can feel confident putting in their strongest offer.
What are some of the reasons sellers may want to consider a pre-sale inspection no matter what the market is like?
Gabauer: A pre-sale inspection gives the seller a knowledge advantage heading into the listing, can help price the property more accurately, identify necessary repairs and support the seller’s negotiations. Providing a home inspection report promotes transparency and trust with buyers.
Monti: Identifying necessary repairs and making those corrections will avoid buyers having the opportunity to leverage additional negotiations. The seller sells the home with more confidence and understands the true condition of the property. Sellers, if they choose, can convey the results of the inspection and proof of repairs which sometimes causes buyers to forgo inspections.
Nicholas: The biggest thing would be to allow the sellers time to fix easy minor items and find out if something is really a problem. Buyers would be more at ease to move forward waiving the home inspection contingency.
Despite these recommendations, all three agents say that most sellers don’t bother with a pre-sale inspection because it adds to the costs of selling. Monti says that because this is a seller’s market, homeowners have less of an incentive to do a pre-sale inspection.
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