Published September 18, 2013
One of the most common ways to sink a home sale or lower the bidding price is a surprise finding in a home inspection, and this is prompting some sellers to take the precautionary step of having an inspection before listing.
A home inspection can cost as much as $500, but real estate experts say it’s a great way to take any of the unknowns out of the home selling equation.
“The buyer has the upper hand when they have an inspection,” says Coldwell Banker consumer specialist and agent Jessica Edwards. “If you are willing to do it ahead of time, you give the control back to the seller.”
According to real estate agents, having a home inspection prior to listing offers a host of benefits with little upfront cost. It identifies any major problems that could later scare off would-be bidders. Buying a house is an emotional and scary experience, especially for first-time buyers, and if the home inspection comes back with a major repair needed, it could scare them off, even if the seller agrees to fix it.
“If you have the items repaired or replaced ahead of time and it doesn’t come up with the buyer, it’s a non-issue,” says Edwards, noting that it also helps sellers who can’t or won’t fix items to adjust their asking price accordingly.
She adds that it’s often cheaper for sellers to make the repairs or replacements on their own ahead of listing than at the negotiation table. At closing, buyer may want to have their own licensed contractor do the necessary work which may be more costly to the seller.
Leslie Piper, consumer housing specialist for Realtor.com, says it could behoove some sellers to consider getting a pest and roof inspection before a home hits the market.
“The costs of repairs or the replacement of a roof can vary and could be a big-ticket item a seller may want to be aware of before they choose the price they are hoping to get for their home,” says Piper. “Having these inspections can be beneficial for a successful home sale, and also beneficial for a seller’s future budgeting plans.”
Not every situation will call for an upfront home inspection, say experts. For instance, if the home is very new or located in a competitive real estate market, a pre-sale inspection may be a waste of money. “A lot of times, if there are seven or eight bids on a given house, the home inspection is negotiated out,” says Ed Berenbaum, CEO of Century 21 Redwood in Washington, D.C. Even if an inspection is done in a not-so-hot real estate market, it may turn out that the seller will take the house as is, and not require the buyer to make any repairs, he says.
Sellers can often get a reduced price on an inspection or opt for an abbreviated check without a full report through an agent’s connections. “Absent a report a home inspector might do it for half the price,” says Berenbaum. “Home inspectors get the bulk of their business from real estate agents so they may be willing to do it at reduced rates to foster the relationship.”