Pre-sale Home Inspection

by Dan Krell
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Home inspections are commonplace among real estate transactions these days. Many people who bought without a home inspection during the recent sellers’ market will testify to the value of having one performed to determine the condition of the home. Generally, home inspectors vary by training and experience; however as of January 1, 2008, all home inspectors operating in Maryland are required to be licensed.

Now that the market has shifted to a buyers’ market, you might see advertisements by some real estate agents and home inspectors stating that a pre-listing home inspection will sell your home faster, eliminate home inspection negotiations, and reduce your liability.

If you do have a home inspection conducted prior to your sale, don’t expect the home buyer to forgo having a home inspection performed. Unless the home buyer has experience in home construction, most home buyers will want an opportunity to have a home inspection. Even if you are selling the home “as-is,” home buyers can still require (as part of a contract) to have an inspection performed to determine if there are serious issues to address in the home.

The pre-listing home inspection could possibly eliminate additional negotiation brought on by a buyer’s home inspection. But since home inspectors vary in experience, you can count on variances between your inspection and theirs. Additionally, there is always the chance that your home can sustain damage after the initial inspection, especially since listing periods tend to be longer these days. If there is additional damage, you can count on the home buyer’s inspector to point it out as well as the buyer asking you to fix it.

Does the pre-listing home inspection eliminate your requirement for disclosure of latent defects? No. Even if you had a pre-listing home inspection, the fact remains that you are still required to disclose any known latent defects (latent defects are defined as defects that a purchaser would not reasonably be expected to ascertain or observe by a careful visual inspection of the real property and pose a health or safety threat).

Don’t get me wrong, having a pre-listing home inspection performed should be on everyone’s pre-listing checklist. Actually, pre-listing home inspections have been performed by savvy home sellers for many years. The purpose of the pre-listing home inspection is to determine the home’s condition and reveal if there are serious issues to remedy. To improve your home’s appearance, you should consider making the recommended repairs. However if you cannot make the repairs, you can price the home based on the home inspector’s repair recommendations. Additionally, the home inspector’s critical eye may serve to provide feedback on enhancing the home’s appeal to potential home buyers.

Should you have a pre-listing home inspection? As a home seller, you should absolutely consider having a pre-listing home inspection performed. Although the pre-listing home inspection on its own doesn’t necessarily bring in home buyers or make the sale, it is a tool that acts as a guide to make your home more appealing to home buyers and to assist in facilitating a faster sale. For more information about a pre-listing home inspection, you can visit the America Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI.org) or the National Society of Home Inspectors (NSHI.us).

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of April 7, 2008. Copyright © 2008 Dan Krell.

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