Picture this: You find the perfect buyer for your house. The offer is clean. The buyer is making few demands and the transaction begins humming along.
Then…the home inspection results come in. The report is long and your buyer starts getting nervous and giving you signs they might back out. Suddenly you’re back at the negotiating table and that swift momentum you had to a speedy closing abruptly comes to a grinding halt.
This isn’t fiction; it’s the reality of many real estate transactions every day right here on Florida’s Space Coast.
But it doesn’t have to be. There’s an easy way to completely change this scenario and avoid the home inspection gamble.
Have your home inspected before you put it on the market. Even if you have no intention of fixing the problems the inspector finds.
Here are 3 good reasons why you should consider a pre-sale inspection.
1. A pre-sale inspection prevents delays
The pre-sale inspection gives you an idea of what needs to be repaired before putting your home on the market. Getting these fixes out of the way now will prevent delays later on.
If you can’t afford to make the needed repairs, the home inspection results can be used as a list of “items the seller will not be fixing.” As long as they aren’t required by the lender, the buyer can then either accept the home as-is, walk away or negotiate with you for a lower price. It’s much better to have the walk-away happen before you remove the home from the market under the assumption that you have a deal.
Let’s face it: the buyer is most likely going to order a home inspection. The problems you’ll learn about during a pre-sale inspection are the same ones that will pop up weeks after you’ve accepted an offer and taken the home off the market.
Without a pre-sale inspection, you can only guess what might end up on the buyer’s inspection report. But with a pre-sale inspection already done you’ll have an advantage over your buyer because you’ll already know what to expect.
It’s a little like knowing the hand your about to be dealt. If you know what’s going to come up during the negotiations you can prepare yourself for how to overcome those objections and eliminate the gamble.
You might consider fixing a few easy, low cost items so they don’t even come up during the buyer’s inspection. Or, you can get estimates of the repairs so you’ll know how much of a concession you really need to make.
Without this information and preparation you could end up bickering over repairs for days and making a larger price concession than necessary just to get the transaction back on track.
And if you’ve purchased another home that’s contingent on the successful conclusion of this sale by a certain date, you could find yourself in a bind if this deal drags on or falls through.
2. A pre-sale inspection keeps the buyer honest
Somewhere along the way during the purchase process, many buyers begin to get cold feet. “It’s ok,” their agents tell them, “you can always back out of the contract during the inspection period if something comes up that you’re uncomfortable with.” And although that’s true, it often gets highly nervous buyers to make offers on homes that maybe they shouldn’t be.
These are not your ideal buyers.
Of course your pre-sale inspection report won’t replace the one that the buyer will most likely order, but it will help weed out those buyers who are most likely to get cold feet, before an offer is accepted.
3. Use a pre-sale inspection as a marketing tool
Remember when you bought your home? The seller was most likely a complete stranger and most of us are a bit wary of buying anything from strangers, let alone something as large and expensive as a house.
Now, imagine if the seller had presented you with a recent home inspection report. Wouldn’t you have felt better about that seller? They obviously weren’t hiding anything. Especially if the report showed there were items in need of repair. That would have indicated a lot of good faith on the part of the seller. And you would have most likely felt much better about buying the home from them.
The same thing is happening now to your buyers. Only you’re on the other side of the transaction.
And what about your competitors? Are they offering a pre-sale inspection on their house for sale? Probably not. Most sellers don’t.
But you are! Add that to your listing description. Now you’re offering something that sets you apart from the competition.
What about the disclosure conundrum?
Ah-ha, “But what about the disclosure conundrum?” you might be asking. Once you receive the results of the inspection, any “warts” uncovered will need to be disclosed to any potential buyers won’t they?
They will. But, remember, these blemishes are there whether you know about them or not and will most likely also appear on the buyer’s inspection report as well. Knowing about them ahead of time gives you an opportunity to fix them.
And even if you’re not in a position to fix them isn’t it better that you’ve informed your buyer of the problems at the outset, rather than they find out later on and hold up the transaction or back out altogether?
If they back out of the deal, you’ve now become aware of these problems anyhow, and will still have to address them.
By not ordering a pre-sale inspection all you’ve done is postponed the inevitable and cost yourself a bunch of time. The disclosure conundrum…isn’t really a conundrum at all.
One Final Thought
As an experienced real estate marketer, I’ve learned that in the sales cycle, the best time to get rid of possible objections is upfront, when the buyers are enthusiastic, or “hot,” so to speak.
As the transaction progresses (especially right after the offer is accepted), buyers tend to question their decision to buy. The reality of a 30-year commitment sets in and they become surprisingly stubborn about making sure they aren’t getting cheated.
This tends to be right at about the time when the home inspector reveals their results. For you, it’s the worst possible time for the buyer to learn that the hot water heater needs repair or that the HVAC system is on its last legs.
When considering whether or not to order a pre-sale inspection, keep in mind that it won’t eliminate your responsibility to fix or replace lender-mandated items and you may still end up taking less for the home than you’d hoped, if you can’t afford to repair what needs fixing.
But what it will do is put you in the know, position you for better negotiations and get rid of one of the main reasons residential real estate transactions fall apart.
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