This is our most trusted competitive weapon of late. We counsel our clients to consider investing in a professional “pre-listing” home inspection as an integral step in preparing their respective properties for the market. Why do we do this? Every buyer is likely to have a professional inspection conducted as part of their purchase and sale agreement, and it makes perfect sense. It’s obviously good for the buyer, but what is less obvious that it’s also good for the seller but we’ll come back to that in a moment.
So your buyer does their inspection and comes to you with their list of deficiencies as a result. This is where far too many real estate sales fall apart. Either the repair list overwhelms the buyer, in which case they simply walk away, or the repair list is too daunting for the seller.
When you consider that the seller has been in the planning stages of selling for weeks or months, and the buyer has been searching for the right house for weeks or months, this absolutely the wrong time, with a contract signed by both parties, to have a transaction fall apart. It is simply not necessary.
A seller’s pre-listing inspection solves this problem in more ways than you might think. First of all, no seller should have to face a buyer that knows more about their house that they do, and this what often happens. It is embarrassing for a seller, and it unreasonably empowers the buyer. Seller’s often end up making unwarranted sale price concessions just to keep a deal together, never mind dealing with a list of repairs. This should never happen, and with a pre-listing inspection it won’t.
It is far more manageable to deal with repair issues BEFORE putting your house on the market. It will cost less in many ways. Trying to get things done within the time limits of a purchase and sale agreement often means paying top dollar to a Yellow Pages Contractor because…….
Uncle Bob the family plumber would love to help out but he’s going fishing that week, and Brother Steve the family licensed electrician would be more than glad to come over from Spokane but his Daughter’s getting married and he has to stick close to home. It is a web of Murphy’s law when you have time constraints on home repairs. Don’t find yourself in that trap.
Second, let’s say the pre-listing inspection reveals things that the seller would rather not know e.g., a failing furnace, water in the crawl space, mold in the attic, etc., because the seller knows that these things are expensive and he or she may not possess the resources to deal with them. You know what? that’s ok, because we are going to make knowledge of those defects available to all prospective buyers BEFORE they write their offers to purchase.
We provide the buyer with the entire pre-listing report inclusive of all known defects. In this way we secure a level of trust with that buyer that no other seller can obtain. We give the buyer the entire story up front so that he or she can structure their offer with needed repairs in mind instead of the other way around: make an offer and hope the house doesn’t have problems, then if the buyer’s inspection reveals that it does have problems pray that the seller is reasonable enough and/or has the resources to work through them. Buyers don’t want to go through this exercise any more than sellers do.
I said I would come back to where we said that a buyer’s home inspection is good for sellers too. What we mean by that can be summed up in one word: liability. After selling their home, no seller ever wants to be called into question, or into court, because they failed to disclose something about their property to their buyer. We have a simple rule: “When in doubt, DISCLOSE.” This is why every seller should actually insist that their buyer conduct an inspection. It is an important part of every seller’s protection against lawsuits after closing because the first question most judges will ask a buyer is, “did you have the property professionally inspected?” If the answer is “Yes”, the retort is often, “You should have hired a better inspector”.
Many sellers don’t want to know because they have this sense that “if they don’t know, they can’t be accused of hiding something.” This behavior may sound crazy, but it’s true, especially among older homeowners. It is not easy to convince such owners that every buyer is going to find out anyway. There is really no hiding defects when a buyer deploys a professional home inspector. The days of “buyer beware” are way behind us. Today it is “seller beware” because every buyer is going to end up knowing more about your property than you do, and you are likely to be at their mercy when it comes time to renegotiate your terms of sale because of the things you didn’t want to know about your own house.
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