a sign in front of a building: A house with a for-sale sign in the yard


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A house with a for-sale sign in the yard

If you’re preparing to sell your home, you have plenty of items to check off your to-do list. One task you might want to consider before putting your home on the market is a pre-listing inspection. Here’s what to know about this special type of home inspection.

What is a pre-listing inspection?

A pre-listing inspection is exactly what it sounds like: Before you officially list your home for sale, a professional home inspector examines your property to identify any potential repairs that need to be made. Think of it as an opportunity to know what the buyer might request before an offer is made or a purchase agreement is signed.

“A pre-listing inspection will make sure the seller is aware of any issues prior to the buyer becoming aware, allowing them more time to prepare for negotiation or time to fix the issues,” explains Angelica Olmsted, broker associate with Team Denver Homes of RE/MAX Professionals, who adds that this can help sellers understand the cost of any repairs, too.

“A pre-listing inspection can also assist the seller when it comes to determining a price to sell or accept an offer,” Olmsted says.

What does a pre-listing inspection cover?

Some pre-listing inspectors offer two options:

  1. Evaluating the main structural elements of the home, such as the roof, siding and foundation
  2. Completing a comprehensive inspection report that includes structural elements along with interior components like plumbing, electrical and HVAC

Home inspection vs. pre-listing inspection

The key difference between a pre-listing inspection and a home inspection is who’s paying for it. If you’re selling your home and you’d like to do a pre-listing inspection, you’ll be footing the bill for it. For a home inspection, it’s generally the opposite.

“The main difference between a pre-listing home inspection and traditional home inspection is whom the report is being completed for,” Olmsted says. “A pre-listing home inspection is typically completed by the seller, while the traditional home inspection is for the buyer, so they know what they are getting into for their new home.”

It’s important to note that neither type of inspection is a substitute for an appraisal. An appraisal is an assessment of the fair market value of your home, which includes external factors such as the neighborhood and local real estate market. In most cases, a mortgage lender is going to require one in order for the buyer to obtain a mortgage.

When to get a pre-listing inspection

While it can be beneficial for a seller to do, a pre-listing inspection isn’t always necessary.

For example, if your home is relatively new and you’ve been the only owner, you’re most likely already aware of any big issues that could impact a sale. In the same vein, if your home is older, failing to get a pre-listing inspection can be a big mistake.

It can also be helpful to get one if you’re hoping to close quickly, Olmsted points out.

“If the seller needs a quick timeline to close or is putting in an offer that will be contingent and with tight deadlines, a pre-listing inspection may help them stay a few steps ahead in the process,” Olmsted says.

How much does a pre-listing inspection cost?

The cost of a pre-listing inspection can vary based on the size, age and location of your home, so it might be smart to compare estimates from a few home inspection providers in your area. For a frame of reference, a regular home inspection can cost between $300 and $450.

Pros and cons of a pre-listing inspection

Pros

  • You can eliminate buyer requests for credits. Let’s say your pre-listing inspection turns up some issues with the home’s plumbing. If a buyer finds those same issues and asks for a $3,000 credit or concession, you’d ultimately be making less on the sale. With a pre-listing inspection, you can fix it yourself and potentially build those repair costs into your list price.
  • You can augment your home’s marketing to attract buyers. If your pre-listing inspection report looks like an A+, advertising this to prospective buyers can be beneficial to you as the seller because they see that your home is in excellent condition.
  • You can speed up the selling process. Closing a real estate transaction can take some time. A pre-listing inspection can help you proactively fix issues that could otherwise create hiccups as you near the finish line on the deal.

Cons

  • It’s another cost. Selling a house comes with plenty of costs, so tacking on more cash by paying for a pre-listing inspection might not be worth it to you.
  • There could be disputes with the buyer’s inspection. It’s likely a buyer will still hire an inspector to do a regular home inspection, and that inspector might have a different, conflicting view of your home than what your pre-listing inspection revealed.
  • You might have to pay for unnecessary repairs. What if the buyer’s home inspection is less thorough than your pre-listing one? You could wind up paying to fix some items that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Should you share the pre-listing inspection?

When you sell your home, you’ll likely need to sign a disclosure form that indicates your knowledge of potential issues. For example, in Illinois, the disclosure form requires the seller to acknowledge any defects in walls, water leaks and issues with the HVAC system – all of which would come up in a pre-listing inspection.

With that in mind, sharing the pre-listing inspection report with the buyer can provide additional evidence from a third party to support why the home is a good purchase.

What if the pre-listing inspection turns up issues? Should you proactively pay to address them?

Olmsted calls this a “tricky question.”

“Each situation is different when it comes to a pre-listing inspection,” Olmsted says. “The seller should review each line with their real estate professional in detail to determine what issues should be addressed or disclosed to the buyers.”

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