Michael Edlen: Pre-Listing Home Inspection Can Benefit Seller

By Michael Edlen
Special to the Palisades News

Many sellers take the position that they are selling their house “as-is,” and do not plan to do any work or repairs, especially because we are still in a “seller’s market.”

Sellers hope that buyers won’t find any surprises during the purchase process, but plan on rejecting any buyer requests for work or credits if problems are found by buyer’s inspections.

There are many potential drawbacks to this approach in the sale of one’s home, and not infrequently the seller regrets what can occur during the escrow period.

Here are some of the benefits of having a pre-listing home inspection.

1. A seller may decide to do some repairs or make various changes suggested by the pre-inspection before their agent puts the listing on the market. Many issues are inexpensive to take care of, and would cost much less than a buyer might imagine when they discover them during their inspections.

2. Buyers may exaggerate things they do not understand, and overreact by either cancelling the escrow or by asking an unreasonably large credit from the seller. If the seller finds that some of the issues discovered through his pre-inspection are more complicated or costly to fix than they would prefer to do, the seller may obtain cost estimates from contractors or repair people and pass those along to any would-be buyer in advance, thus proactively de-escalating potential problems.

3. Of course, most buyers will have their own professional inspection done, whether a seller has already had one or not. However, if the seller provides prospective buyers a copy of a pre-inspection report, including notations of any recommended work that they had already performed, and possibly cost estimates for other items, it can accomplish a few benefits.

For instance, the buyer will not be able in good faith to come back to the seller with a list of requested repairs or to ask for a credit to take care of things that they had already known about before writing their offer. It also conveys a sense of transparency and integrity at the beginning, which in turn can help build trust and ensure a smoother transaction.

Flaws and defects that are not made apparent to buyers before they have inspections done are seen as far more significant that those disclosed beforehand, even if the seller makes it known that he won’t fix them.

In selling more than 1,300 homes in a wide range of prices and condition, it has been my experience that sellers almost always come out ahead by having had pre-inspections done.

The cost for a basic general inspection today may be $750-$1,200—depending on the size of the home, whether it includes pool equipment and how detailed the inspector and his report may be.

Some people go so far as to have supplemental inspections done, much as many buyers would do. These could include a termite inspection, scoping of the sewer line (and clearing it out if necessary), a chimney inspection and possibly a visit by drainage and roofing experts.

If signs of possible mold are noted, most buyers would also have an environmental inspection done. Such added inspections will commonly be done by buyers during escrow, and sellers may end up receiving requests based on the findings and reports.

The combined inspection costs of perhaps $1,000 to $1,500 may well be a worthwhile investment in many cases because the pre-inspection can help sell a home sooner and at a price closer to the listed price. At the least, the seller is better informed, has control over issues that are found, and sets a tone that most buyers appreciate from the outset.

Michael Edlen has achieved one of the highest sale-to-list-price ratios and lowest escrow fallout rates for more than 20 years, based largely on a system of careful pre-marketing preparations and inspections. For more information, call 310-230-7373 or email Michael@MichaelEdlen.com.

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