Seller Inspections: Streamlining Real Estate Transactions
(condensed from an article)
by Nick Gromicko, [Former REALTOR and Founder of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors]
Seller inspections (sometimes referred to as pre-listing inspections) are becoming more popular because they virtually eliminate all the pitfalls and hassles associated with waiting to do the home inspection until a buyer is found. In many ways, waiting to schedule the inspection until after a home goes under agreement is too late. Seller inspections are arranged and paid for by the seller, usually just before the home goes on the market. The seller is the inspector’s client. The inspector works for the seller and generates a report for the seller. The seller then typically makes multiple copies of the report and shares them with potential buyers who tour the home for sale. Seller inspections are a benefit to all parties in a real estate transaction. They are a win-win-win-win situation.
Advantages to the Seller:
- The seller can choose a certified InterNACHI inspector rather than be at the mercy of the buyer’s choice of inspector.
- The seller can schedule the inspections at the seller’s convenience.
- It might alert the seller to any items of immediate concern, such as radon gas or active termite infestation.
- The seller can assist the inspector during the inspection, something normally not done during a buyer’s inspection.
- The seller can have the inspector correct any misstatements in the inspection report before it is generated.
- The report can help the seller realistically price the home if problems exist.
- The report can help the seller substantiate a higher asking price if problems don’t exist or have been corrected.
- A seller inspection reveals problems ahead of time, which:
- The report might alert the seller to any immediate safety issues found, before agents and visitors tour the home.
- The report provides a third-party, unbiased opinion to offer to potential buyers.
- A seller inspection permits a clean home inspection report to be used as a marketing tool.
- A seller inspection is the ultimate gesture in forthrightness on the part of the seller.
- The report might relieve a prospective buyer’s unfounded suspicions, before they walk away.
- A seller inspection lightens negotiations and 11th-hour re-negotiations.
- The report might encourage the buyer to waive the inspection contingency.
- The deal is less likely to fall apart, the way they often do, when a buyer’s inspection unexpectedly reveals a last-minute problem.
- The report provides full-disclosure protection from future legal claims.
- might make the home show better.
- gives the seller time to make repairs and shop for competitive contractors.
- permits the seller to attach repair estimates or paid invoices to the inspection report.
- removes over-inflated buyer-procured estimates from the negotiation table.
Advantages to the Real Estate Agent:
- Agents can recommend certified InterNACHI inspectors, as opposed to being at the mercy of buyer’s choices in inspectors.
- Sellers can schedule the inspections at seller’s convenience, with little effort on the part of agents.
- Sellers can assist inspectors during the inspections, something normally not done during buyers’ inspections.
- Sellers can have inspectors correct any misstatements in the reports before they are generated.
- The reports help sellers see their homes through the eyes of a critical third-party, thus making sellers more realistic about asking price.
- Agents are alerted to any immediate safety issues found, before other agents and potential buyers tour the home.
- Repairs made ahead of time might make homes show better.
- Reports hosted online entice potential buyers to tour the homes.
- The reports provide third-party, unbiased opinions to offer to potential buyers.
- Clean reports can be used as marketing tools to help sell the homes.
- The reports might relieve prospective buyers’ unfounded suspicions, before they walk away.
- Seller inspections eliminate “buyer’s remorse” that sometimes occurs just after an inspection.
- Seller inspections reduce the need for negotiations and 11th-hour re-negotiations.
- Seller inspections relieve the agent of having to hurriedly procure repair estimates or schedule repairs.
- The reports might encourage buyers to waive their inspection contingencies.
- Deals are less likely to fall apart, the way they often do, when buyer’s inspections unexpectedly reveal last-minute problems.
- Reports provide full-disclosure protection from future legal claims.
A good question to ask a group of real estate agents:
Have any of you had a deal fall apart at the 11th hour over an inspection report? Every hand will go up.
Advantages to the Home Buyer:
- The inspection is done already.
- The inspection is paid for by the seller.
- The report provides a more accurate third-party view of the condition of the home prior to making an offer.
- A seller inspection eliminates surprise defects.
- Problems are corrected, or at least acknowledged, prior to making an offer on the home.
- A seller inspection reduces the need for negotiations and 11th-hour re-negotiations.
- The report might assist in acquiring financing.
- A seller inspection allows the buyer to sweeten the offer without increasing the offering price by waiving inspections.
Common Myths About Seller Inspections:
Q. Don’t seller inspections kill deals by forcing sellers to disclose defects they otherwise wouldn’t have known about?
A. Any defect that is material enough to kill a real estate transaction is likely going to be uncovered eventually anyway. It is best to discover the problem ahead of time, before it can kill the deal.
Q. A newer home in good condition doesn’t need an inspection anyway. Why should the seller have one done?
A. Unlike real estate agents, whose job is to market properties for their sellers, inspectors produce objective reports. If the property is truly in great shape, the inspection report becomes a pseudo-marketing piece, with the added benefit of having been generated by an impartial party.
In summary, seller inspections streamline the real estate sales process for all parties involved. InterNACHI recommends that every home be inspected before being put on the market (listed) and recommends annual inspections for homes that aren’t for sale.