A few dollars now could increase your selling price

Getting a Home Inspection Before You List Your Home

by Leslie Winey


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You've heard the saying that sometimes you have to spend money to make money. It's not a popular one in the frugal community where we'll save every penny, nickel, and dime because they add up to dollars. However, that might not be the best plan of action when it comes to big ticket items like your home.

Even in a seller's market, your house must still present well if you want top dollar. But, how do you know what to repair or replace? Some things are obvious like the cabinet door that perpetually swings open or the missing tile in the shower, but others aren't. Some major issues are electrical, HVAC, foundation, roofing, and plumbing.

Scott Kinrade, an inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and owner of Benchmark Inspections, shares that "a very high percentage of issues I find at any given inspection can be fixed by the seller simply by visiting a hardware store or home improvement center. For example, the average homeowner already knows they have some ripped window screens, a constantly dripping faucet, a loose door knob, or a ding on a wall. Those are all easy, inexpensive fixes a homeowner can do themselves."

Related: Do It Yourself Home Staging

He went on to share, "Electrical issues would be in my top couple of items I come across during an inspection. GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupters) are required for all exterior and garage outlets, as well as within six feet of all water sources on the interior of the home. That means GFCIs are required for all outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms as well. This is a safety issue, and an issue I've seen buyers (especially younger buyers) get scared off by. These safety devices have been around since about 1970 and code requirements have changed several times since then. So, if you've been in your house for a few decades, this is something you'll want to have up-to-date prior to selling your home."

A pre-listing inspection is a great way to be several steps ahead when you decide to put your home on the market. It might seem like wasted money because the buyer will usually want another inspection. However, think about the advantages, especially if you are selling it without a realtor and need an extra measure of assurance for the buyer.

Getting a Home Inspection Before You List Your Home

Proactive Planning

When you know what could be revealed in a future subsequent inspection, you can complete those repairs now to avoid the issue or perhaps offer a credit upon closing if you don't have the funds to do it now. It also allows you to adjust the timing of your listing for the best possible showings.

Kinrade advises, "By knowing the potential issues or repairs ahead of time, the seller can choose to fix them or leave them for the buyer to address. But if you leave anything other than cosmetic issues for the buyer, I recommend having three quotes from qualified contractors so the buyers know the cost ahead of time, or better yet, have those things already repaired or upgraded. That fosters openness and transparency that can help the seller stay in charge of their listing price, and it shows the buyer you aren't trying to hide anything."

Transparency Matters

As Kinrade noted, this also promotes transparency, which may resonate with a buyer. This was an extra step you didn't have to take and could reveal problems they may not have ever discovered, but now they have a certified inspection and documentation of repairs to give them peace of mind.

Don't Even Go There

Some buyers aren't handy at repairs or are perhaps first time homebuyers, and they may overreact to the sight of the easily remedied imperfections. Don't give them that opportunity.

Related: Getting Ready to Sell Your Home

Your Agent Will Thank You

Your listing agent will be better able to advise you as to which improvements and repairs are worth your while and will serve to support or increase your listing price. They also will be able to negotiate more effectively on your behalf because they know the true condition and value of your home.

Related: What If Your House Doesn't Sell?

You Never Know

It's a long shot, but the buyer may decide to accept the inspection you've presented to them and not order their own. Your transparency and honesty may set you apart as a seller they can trust.

The price of a home inspection will vary in different areas of the country and with different inspectors. Be sure to choose a reputable, certified inspector. If an inspection price seems too high, contact others for comparison. As Kinrade concluded, "A pre-listing inspection is such a small price to pay to stay in the driver's seat, and it is a win-win for both the seller and buyer."


Take the Next Step:

  • Use these tips from a professional home stager to stage your home for sale.
  • Are you selling your home yourself? Know how to avoid realtor fees on a for-sale-by-owner.
  • Looking to buy a new home? Use our simple tool that compares different lenders to see what your monthly mortgage payment could be. It's private, only takes a minute and could show you how to save thousands!
  • Get control of your financial life. Subscribe to Financial Independence, a free daily email that provides you with the tools to help you gain that control and achieve financial independence. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist for FREE!

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