A HOME SELLER’S GUIDE to PRE-LISTING INSPECTIONS
The importance of getting an inspection before you list your home for sale…LET THE HOME INSPECTION WORK FOR YOU!
EASING THE TRANSACTION FOR A HOME SELLER
Home sellers are urged to utilize home inspections prior to listing their homes. A Pre-Listing Inspection (PLI) can discover unknown conditions, assist in determining realistic sales prices, and allow sellers an opportunity to perform desired repairs before placing the property on the market. A PLI will also facilitate a smoother transaction by putting potential buyers at ease, reducing negotiating points, and bypassing annoying delays.
It is just good business to have a home professionally inspected when you decide to place it on the market. In addition to having a report on the home’s condition available for potential buyers, it shows that your home “has nothing to hide” and may avoid those last-minutes transaction surprises.
HOME SELLER DISCLOSURE OBLIGATIONS
An important aspect of a home seller’s inspection is the effect it can have on liability. By securing an inspection prior to placing a home on the market, a seller can combat any potential future argument that they were attempting to conceal the condition of the property. Failure to disclose is a common cause of action against sellers. A professional property inspection report demonstrates, with a paper trail, that the home seller went above and beyond the typical standard of care.
Unfortunately, in a typical transaction, it is the buyer who purchases the home inspection report. However, by providing prior disclosure, a home seller demonstrates diligence in their disclosure obligations. This will be perceived as an attractive option for potential buyers.
DO I HAVE TO REPAIR EVERYTHING WRONG WITH THE HOUSE?
A home inspection report is not a repair list for sellers. The inspector’s role is not to identify a complete repair list for the home, nor is it the sellers obligation to repair any problems discovered by the home inspector. Sellers are not required to produce a flawless house. They have no such obligation by law or by contract. With a home inspection, potential repairs items are already known by both parties are subject to any negotiations. A home seller can make repairs as a matter of choice, not obligation; to foster good will or to facilitate consummation of the sale. Sellers maintain the legal right to refuse repair demands, except where requirements are set forth by state law, local ordinance, or the real estate purchase contract. Legal obligations can include earthquake straps for water heaters and smoke detectors in specified locations. Contracts usually stipulate that fixtures be in working condition at the close of escrow, that windows not be broken, and that there be no existing leaks in the roof or plumbing.
DO I REALLY NEED AN INSPECTION?
As a seller, if you have owned your property for a period of time, an inspection can help identify potential problems and recommend preventive measures, which might avoid future expensive repairs. There is no such thing as a home that is too new or too well built to benefit from a professional inspection. Anyone advising against an inspection is doing a disservice to the home buyer. Many problems frequently encountered after the buyer moves in, are a routine discovery for a qualified home inspection.
WHAT IS AN INSPECTION?
An inspection consists of a thorough visual examination of a home’s accessible structural components including the foundation, superstructure, and roofing systems. The heating and cooling equipment is activated along with operating plumbing fixtures, testing accessible electrical outlets and fixtures, and operating a representative sampling of doors and windows. Only those items that are visible and accessible by normal means are included in the report. It is the nature of an inspection to be an intrusive process. Great care is taken to ensure that the home is left in the same condition as on arrival. Because of the wide range of seasonal climates, unusual weather and seismic occurrences, a professional home inspection can help provide a wealth of information to a home seller anxious to ensure that their home is well valued.
IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR AN INSPECTION?
Yes, a home seller can assist in receiving an efficient and professional inspection, while increasing the possibility of a more favorable inspection report. There are some basic maintenance items you can attend to that will help your home get a more favorable inspection report. Many inspection reports are filled with the same neglected maintenance items that are prevalent in many homes. To move your home sale along to a faster and easier closing, you can assist the process with the following tips. Most of these items can be accomplished with little or no cost, while the benefits of selling a well maintained home can be worth the effort.
1. If your house will be vacant, make sure all the utilities are tuned on for the inspection.
2. Clean or replace HVAC filter.
3. Replace burned out light bulbs; remove dishes from sinks or personal items from bathtubs or showers.
4. Provide clear, unobstructed access to the attic, crawlspace, appliances, garage and other areas that will need to be inspected.
5. Be sure that dogs are either off the property or securely housed so as not to interfere with the inspection process.
LOCATE A QUALIFIED INSPECTOR!
As of yet, the State of California does not license home inspectors! At present, anyone can claim to be a home inspector. Therefore, consumers must exercise extreme care and cautious consideration before hiring just anyone and it is imperative that home sellers secure the services of a competent home inspector. A poor inspection can have a drastic consequence (it could be argued that a poor inspection was recommended for the sole purpose of hiding the true condition of the property). Make sure to hire an inspector who is properly trained and experienced; maintains insurance, and is a member of a professional association. Select your home inspector with the following criteria in mind:
• Professional Affiliation: Membership in most professional associations requires obtaining initial training, passing a rigorous testing exam, and mandatory adherence to professional standards of practice and participation in ongoing education. When you choose a home inspector, you should specify membership in NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors), ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) or CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association). Inspectors who claim adherence to standards of these organizations, but who are not actual members, are avoiding professional accountability and should be viewed with caution.
• Inspection Experience. Of paramount importance is an inspector’s actual level of direct experience in the practice of home inspection. A general contractor’s license can be an important credential, but when it comes to home inspection, a license to build indicates very little as it relates to competence as a property inspector. The experience that matters most is specific home inspection training and experience, not building experience.
• Avoid Price Shopping. Home inspection fees vary widely. Lower fees may indicate an inspector who is new to the business or does not spend sufficient time performing the inspection. A home is the most expensive commodity you are likely to purchase in a lifetime. One defect missed by your inspector could cost 100 times what you save with a bargain inspection. The best method of price shopping is to shop for quality. Considering the high cost of real estate today, an inspection fee is a small price to pay. It can save thousands of dollars and years of regret.