Pre-Inspections by the Sellers

said on November 6th, 2011 filed under: Localism, Negotiating, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

Before putting their home on the market for sale, there are pros and cons for the sellers to consider when hiring professionals for pre-inspections.

Why sellers should not pre-inspect

  • Sellers may spend money they don’t have to spend, costs that they can pass on to the buyer, or not spend at all.
  • Sellers may discover things about their property that they don’t want to know about.

Though I may agree with the first point, and understand the human nature that informs the second point, I must urge the seller, in the strongest possible terms, to surrender the notion of “plausible deniability.”  Simply put, if an inspection reveals defective items, those flaws must be disclosed to the agents (seller and buyer agents, both) and to the buyer.

In fact, the report itself must be disclosed, not just the findings.  Suppose the seller fixes all the defects discovered in the inspection?  The entire report itself still must be disclosed.  How about really old reports, and how old is “really old?”  I don’t know the answer to those questions, but recent legislation has made this point clear:  all inspection reports must be disclosed.

Once again, we go back to the basic rule taught to agents in real estate kindergarten:  When in doubt, disclose.

Why sellers should pre-inspect

Knowledge is bargaining power.  The sellers are in a much stronger position to set the price their house strategically and negotiate with confidence when they know exactly:

  • what condition their home is in
  • how much money it will take to bring the house up to standard condition or better

Pre-inspections may reveal opportunities to “spend a little and make a lot” by correcting problems that buyers will use to beat down the price.  This is especially true for health and safety items.

Pre-inspections may reveal opportunities to upgrade certain items, especially cosmetic items, that will attract or please the buyers.

Homeowners develop blind spots as they accomodate themselves to that sticking door or that toilet valve that keeps running until you give the handle a second shake.  These little annoyances, now forgotten by the sellers,  add up in the buyers’ mind, and give the buyers an impression that the property is poorly maintained.  The pre-inspectors will identify these irritants so they can be pre-emptively fixed.

Pre-inspections can be used to great effect in marketing the home.  A home, clean as a whistle, with pre-inspection reports available are very attractive to buyers and to their real estate agents.  Agents prefer to show houses with as few problems as possible.  The reports are quite encouraging and reassuring.

Buyers Remorse.  This disease, also known as “second thoughts” and “cold feet,” is epidemic in today’s buyer-dominated marketplace.  It seems as if buyers, as soon as they get an offer accepted, start looking for reasons to walk away.  Sellers should eliminate as many reasons as possible, before the buyer even knows about the house.

Sellers should eliminate as many “mysteries” as they can.  This pre-market strategy is particularly important with rural properties, the subject of our article on inspecting rural homes.

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To find out more about real estate in the Golden Hills of the Sierras, just call Bob at (530-906-1023) or CJ at (530-9064715) or email us at or

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