Should You Get a Pre-Listing Home Inspection?

May 15, 2020

Home sellers considering having a home inspection performed before listing their home on the market are often hesitant for a variety of reasons—concerns about the home inspection process, how findings could impact the value of their home, and if the inspection report could cause potential buyers to back out. 

However, having your home inspected prior to selling it ensures that you know beforehand of any issues that might complicate a sale, and allow you to respond accordingly. You don’t have to wait until your potential buyers hire a home inspector to find out about the condition of your home—instead, a pre-listing inspection gives you insight into the true market value of your home, and what issues you can correct to maximize that value and ensure a smooth sale.

A pre-listing home inspection, as the name suggests, is intended to give homeowners the opportunity to anticipate and correct problems before they potentially complicate a sale.

Home inspections unveil the true integrity of your home, including home systems such as plumbing and appliances, and whether any problematic pest infestations are present. The hope of the seller and buyer alike is that there is nothing wrong, so that the sale can go through as planned. But when a home inspector does find a problem, it can prove to be a major obstacle, requiring thousands of dollars and weeks of work to fix. This can derail a sale, and puts serious pressure on a seller to renegotiate with the buyer, or pay for improvements out of pocket to ensure the buyer doesn’t back out. 

The sort of time crunch that occurs due to an unexpected problem being revealed by an inspection almost always results in a seller failing to get the maximum possible value for their home—this is especially so if the seller is simultaneously trying to purchase and move into another home. But by having a pre-listing inspection performed, you can better ensure a predictable schedule, smooth sales process, and a better price.

A pre-listing home inspection is no different than a typical home inspection, aside from taking place prior to listing the home for sale—the inspection process is the same, with the inspector looking for issues, documenting them, and presenting you with a final inspection report.

So, why pay for a home inspection yourself, instead of putting that cost on the buyer? The reason is that the value of the report is in many cases much greater than the money you might save by relying only on the buyer’s inspector.

Consider your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, for example. The average lifespan of an HVAC system is 15 to 25 years, and largely depends on regular maintenance. The cost to replace an HVAC system is upwards of $10,000. If you have an agreement to sell your home, and the inspector finds that the HVAC system needs replacing, it would be smart for the buyer to counter with a lower offer, or back out of the sale altogether. You might be compelled to lower your price by more than it would cost to replace the system, simply to avoid losing the sale. 

With a pre-listing home inspection, on the other hand, you could catch the faulty HVAC system ahead of time, and give yourself the opportunity to decide to fix the problem right away, save up to fix it, or go ahead with listing your home for sale and disclose the issue so that there are no surprises. Even if you choose not to repair the problem, the sale process will likely be smoother and faster, due to the existing issues being communicated beforehand. 

Beyond giving you a clear understanding of your various home systems, and allowing you to more accurately price your home, a pre-listing home inspection can also give the buyer more confidence that your home is the right one for them. Buyers are naturally skeptical about the condition of the home they are about to purchase, which might be enough for them to offer less than the asking price. They’ll have more confidence that your home is worth buying when they have the facts right in front of them. This could make them less likely to negotiate, and more likely to pay the asking price. 

It’s important to note that a pre-listing home inspection does not absolve the buyer from hiring their own inspector after the sale is agreed upon. They will still be required to get a home inspection, even if you’ve already gone ahead with a pre-listing inspection. 

Bear in mind that if a pre-listing home inspection uncovers a problem, you’ll be required to disclose it to potential buyers.

In most states, home sellers are required to disclose any known home defects to buyers prior to completion of the sale. This is known as the “disclosure law,” and it both absolves the seller of any legal liability, and gives the buyer the information they need to decide whether to purchase the home or not. 

In California, sellers must fill out a document known as the Transfer Disclosure Statement. In it, they answer basic questions about any known defects to the property. If the sellers know about a crack in the foundation, for example, they must note it. Obviously, unknown defects do not need to be listed, nor is the seller obliged to seek them out. 

But when a pre-listing home inspection brings to light previously unknown defects, because you now know about the defects, you must list them in the disclosure statement. 

Despite this, a pre-listing home inspection is always a wise choice. You’ll find out just what state your home is in, what repairs need to be done, and exactly how to price the home once it goes to market. Armed with more knowledge about the quality of your home, you can potentially streamline the sales process by giving buyers the confidence that there are no underlying issues, and maximize the final sale price. 

If you’re thinking about selling your home, the home inspection professionals at North American Home Services can perform a pre-listing inspection! Contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you.

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