Is a “pre-listing” home inspection a good idea?

can a pre-listing inspection save a sale?

A “pre-listing” home inspection is just like a regular home inspection but is completed by the homeowner/seller prior to listing the property for sale.  Buyers are very familiar with the advantages of a home inspection when buying a property but few sellers take the time to have a “pre-listing” home inspection done.  Here are a few thoughts on why this rarely happens and why it is probably a very good idea in this market.

Is this a good idea?
Doing such a home inspection prior to listing is an excellent idea for a number of reasons.  It can be part of listing preparation and a sensible piece of due diligence to perform.  Most home inspectors are happy to do these and generally, they would be conducted well enough in advance of the listing date, to allow time to rectify any significant issues discovered.  (Or at the very least, to obtain professional quotes to understand the cost of remedies that can be built in to pricing strategy or negotiations)

In our sellers’ market one might say “what’s the point? there are lots of buyers out there” and forgo such an inspection and the associated cost.  However, having a home inspection report on file and available for serious buyers and their buyer representatives can be a very handy tool.

Some buyers may choose to forego the need for their own home inspection, if the report on file is deemed satisfactory.  This can mean a “cleaner” offer and possibly a quicker firming up date which benefits both buyer and seller.  It might also mean more offers in a multiple offer situation.

It can also provide buyers with confirming data on the property under consideration which can add to their confidence level or inform them of details that they may not have known.  This may help prevent a sale “falling through” or being cancelled during the conditional period.  Because of our sellers’ market, we are seeing extraordinarily high levels of such sales cancellations and these really hurt the seller, so on this basis alone, a pre-listing inspection is warranted.

If a general pre-listing inspection suggests more specific, expert consultation then a seller may choose to further investigate the matter and obtain additional reports, quotes or information that will help facilitate a sale or negotiation.  If done well in advance, then a seller has the opportunity to address some of the items pointed out and thus ensure success when a buyers’ home inspection is conducted.

A Professional Inspectors thoughts:
Mike White, owner of Homepro Inspections here in Ottawa and a very experienced home inspector, says perhaps 3% of his total inspections annually are pre-listing.
“I do several of these a year. Many are estate sales where the sellers are really not aware of any information about the house.

Most of the issues found are the same for any other inspection. Asbestos is something that many homeowners have no idea is in their homes.

The main difference when I am performing a pre-listing inspection is that I will typically give the sellers some tips on preparing their home for the next inspection. This would be information beyond what some agents provide in their services.

Some of this would be:
– Cleaning the furnace, or changing filters.
– Recommendation of increasing attic insulation
– Caulking and other general maintenance which can give potential buyers an impression of how the home has been maintained.”

You can reach out to Mike for a variety of home inspection related services at: http://homeprocanada.ca/ or by calling 613-860-4848

Why don’t more sellers and listing agents do these?

Timelines:
Quite often sellers are on a tight timeline to get a property listed and there just isn’t time to get a pre-inspection done.  Inspectors are in high demand in peak season and may or not be as readily available to do such inspections during the busiest months in the spring.

“Don’t-ask-don’t tell” or “don’t poke the bear
Most sellers are also very familiar with their homes and either don’t feel a home inspection is necessary, don’t want to shoulder the cost (approx. $500) or don’t want to “poke the bear” and potentially find out some negative aspect of the property that could affect their selling process.  Many listing agents also apply a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” principle to the pre-listing inspection, as anything significant discovered by that inspection may be a material fact which must then be disclosed to buyers or may delay the listing process.   “Why ask for trouble?  many listing agents may ask themselves.

Today, only the most cautious sellers are having pre-listing home inspections done in our market and in many cases, probably only upon the suggestion of their listing agent/broker.  Some brokers may choose to include the cost of this inspection in their listing fees.  Homes that have had (or have) some specific issue, (ie foundation, structural, latent defect) are good candidates to show buyers what needs to be done and what it will cost or to prove that the issue has been resolved. Often, a trade specialist or Engineering inspection and report may be provided for this purpose.

We believe that doing such an inspection protects both seller and listing broker and paves the way for a smoother sales process overall but don’t expect to see a much higher % of listed properties being supported in this fashion.  Those contemplating a sale, should at the very least discuss this with their listing broker and determine if there are sufficient reasons to proceed.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692  oasisrealty@rogers.com