Below is an excerpt of a conversation I recently had with one of our clients.
“I am curious to know how often you encourage a home inspection to be done, and if everything is addressed by the seller?”
At our request, 95% of our sellers have “pre-listing” home inspections. We strongly encourage them because, for example, most sellers do not go into their attics or crawl spaces on a regular basis. Approximately 60% of the homes we have seen in Kitsap County have had current rodent or evidence of past rodent issues in their crawl spaces. Not surprisingly, rodents, mold and wood rot scare off buyers. In most cases, these kinds of issues can be taken care of but if you are already in contract and you are negotiating the terms of how to fix an issue prior to closing, it can cost at least double the normal amount to get the work completed in a pinch. We do not mandate that every inspection item be taken care of, but we do price the home to reflect the condition. Taking care of any “health and safety” items is important and makes a transaction go much more smoothly. A buyer’s financing can hinge on these kinds of issues being taken care of.
“What if the buyer hires a different home inspector and they find things that are totally different than the previous home inspection?”
This is always a possibility. However, we refer inspectors who are experienced enough to look at different reports and refute or address them. At our firm, we are very selective about who we recommend. We think of the pre-listing home inspection as an insurance policy. It is our way of telling prospective buyers and their agents that we know the house inside and out. Every inspection report is different, but most generally agree on the larger more expensive systems of the home; heating, crawl space, attic, electrical, plumping, roof, etc.
“What about disclosure laws? Once something is written down by an inspector do we have to address it and/or do we have to disclose it? Even if we fix it do we have to disclose it?”
Once an inspection report flags something important, you are obliged to disclose it on the Seller Disclosure statement. If you fix it, you also need to disclose that you fixed it and provide receipts for the repair (unless the items are minor enough for you to take care of yourself). Buyers and their agents love to see that inspection issues have been dealt with prior to listing.
“Just how useful can a pre-listing home inspection really be?”
A “pre-listing” home inspection is becoming an industry standard in larger markets like Seattle. Disclosing as much relevant information as possible creates consumer confidence and builds trust. Sellers get better quality offers when the buyers have as much information as possible at their disposal. Surprises cost money and make buyers nervous. If you get a fabulous offer but the buyer’s inspection report turns up something unpleasant, the sale can flip. If you have to go back on the market every agent and buyer will ask “what happened”. The last thing you want to have to admit is that a big issue scared the previous buyer away. These kinds of circumstances cost you money.
These photographs are a prime example of an issue that was not obvious to the naked eye. During the pre-listing home inspection, the inspector noticed wood rot in the beam supporting the covered entryway. A licensed and bonded contractor fixed the problem before the home went active on the market. Wood rot in support beams is definitely something that alarms buyers and could cost a lot to repair when pressed for time.
One of our most important jobs is to help you prepare for a financially successful and drama free real estate experience, whether it is selling or buying. We love helping you navigate this complex works of real estate and are ready to answer any questions you have about the process. If we can be of service, contact us or visit us on Facebook and we would be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs.