A Seller's Guide to Pre-Listing Home Inspections

Real Estate, Selling a House, Tips for Selling a House

Selling a home can be complex, and getting to the closing table isn’t always easy. Sometimes, a home sale closes without a hitch. But other times, there can be a whole host of unpleasant surprises. 

As a homeowner, there are things you can do, before listing your home for sale, to help pave the way for a smooth closing. One option is a pre-listing home inspection, which can give you and potential buyers better insight into the condition of your home.

What Is a Pre-Listing Inspection?

A pre-listing inspection – aka a seller’s inspection or pre-inspection – is a professional inspection home sellers can choose to have before listing their home for sale. No laws or rules require homeowners to have a pre-listing inspection, and those who opt to hire a home inspector for a pre-listing inspection will usually have to pay for it themselves. 

Though a pre-listing inspection is an added expense, it offers several benefits that may help prevent problems and lead to a more seamless closing. Let’s discuss what’s in a pre-listing inspection, the cost of a pre-listing inspection and the benefits and drawbacks.

What’s in a pre-listing inspection?

The exact contents of a pre-listing inspection report will vary based on the inspector. However, most pre-listing inspections include an evaluation of common parts of the property, such as:

  • Important structural elements: Foundation, roof, basement and more
  • Major systems: HVAC, plumbing and electrical
  • Wear and tear: Water damage, termite damage, mold and mildew, framing and flooring damage

After a professional home inspector completes an inspection of the property, you’ll receive a report documenting the inspector’s findings, as well as recommendations for repairs and replacements. If the inspection reveals any major defects, you’ll have the opportunity to address necessary repairs before your home hits the market.

You never want to hear about problems with your home, but discovering issues during the pre-listing inspection can allow time to make repairs yourself or prepare to negotiate repairs before a purchase agreement is signed.

How much does a presale home inspection cost?

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, the average pre-listing inspection costs $300 – $600.[1] The exact price of a pre-listing inspection depends on the home’s location and size, the company conducting the inspection and any add-ons like lead-based paint, asbestos and radon testing.

Most Buyers Get A Home Inspection

Most buyers will order a home inspection before they close on a house. A pre-listing inspection can help you get ahead of any problems the buyer’s inspection might uncover.

How Does a Pre-Listing Home Inspection Help Sellers?

A pre-listing inspection helps home sellers by giving them the opportunity to address any potential problems with their home before putting it up for sale. But why is that so important? 

Decrease home selling stress

Selling a home can be stressful, but a pre-listing inspection can offer some much-needed peace of mind. It’s important to have a complete picture of a home’s condition before putting it on the market, so you can price it correctly from the start. 

Once a property is under contract, any hidden issues uncovered during the buyer’s inspection can delay closing or cause an offer to fall through.

Handle repairs on your own terms

A pre-listing inspection gives you the advantage of being able to address and handle repairs on your own terms. Once a potential buyer comes along, you’ll have to negotiate with them on any repairs. With a pre-listing inspection, you can budget and prioritize repairs as you see fit, coordinating and supervising any work that needs to be done.

Save time

Conducting a pre-inspection may provide several time-saving benefits, such as: 

  • Appealing to serious buyers: If a buyer makes an offer after reviewing the results of the pre-inspection, you’ll know they mean business.
  • Boosting negotiation power: A pre-inspection reduces the back and forth between you and the buyer.
  • Showcasing areas of exceptional value or recent upgrades: When you know your home’s strengths and weaknesses, you can focus on the property’s highlights to help attract an aggressive listing agent and draw in buyers for showings.

What Are The Downsides Of A Pre-Listing Home Inspection?

The downsides of a pre-listing inspection include having to spend money from your own pocket and potentially being legally required to disclose any significant property defects. 

Many states require home sellers to complete a seller’s property disclosure, which is a form that contains information on and questions regarding the property’s condition. Since the laws vary by state, ask your real estate agent what your obligations are regarding a seller’s property disclosure. 

If you have to complete a seller’s property disclosure, expect to be asked about:

  • The presence of lead-based paint
  • Any history of flooding or leaks
  • Foundation problems
  • When the roof was last replaced
  • Water source and quality
  • The type of plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems

You may think a Seller’s Disclosure can hurt your chances of selling a home, but many buyers might actually be encouraged by a property disclosure. For example, a buyer might appreciate a new roof or upgraded plumbing or HVAC system, both of which would be included in a Seller’s Disclosure. 

And in the event of a defect, the Seller’s Disclosure can help facilitate transparency and allow you and the buyer to negotiate a change in price if the buyer is willing to take on the repairs.

Better the Devil You Know Than the Devil You Don’t

The home selling process can be a bumpy ride. While your home might have some issues lurking in the shadows, a pre-listing inspection is the best way to get in front of any roadblocks. It’ll cost a few hundred dollars, but a pre-listing inspection can save you time and stress. In the end, a pre-inspection can give you the upper hand in negotiations and help you get to the closing table.

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