Why Pre-Listing Inspections Are So Important


Pre Listing Home Inspections

and Why You Should Be Getting Them

- by Dawn Henry





A Very Familiar Problem:


A buyer finds a house they love, and they stretch their funds out to the nth degree, making an offer at the very top of their price range. They scrape together the deposit to secure the deal before someone else snatches away their new home. Upon inspection, it comes out that the deck is riddled with an active wood-boring beetle infestation, there is a leak under the house, and the roof is shot. While it’s hard to believe the selling party had no idea of any of these things, let’s assume for the sake of simplicity that they were unaware. 


Now the buyers are in a pickle. They cannot afford all the work necessary, as they have already maxed out their budget in the offer. The sellers didn’t count on these major hiccups and don’t want to fix the items or lower the price of the home. Either the sale stalls and dies in the impasse, or the buyers take on more than they can handle and purchase the wrong house for them, which will definitely leave a bad taste in their mouths and will probably affect their trust, assumptions, and public discourse about realtors for years to come.


The Proactive Solution: 


Get a set of thorough inspections before listing a property, and disclose them readily to prospective buyers.


“But Why Would A Buyer Trust A Seller’s Inspection?”


This is one of the most pernicious issues in Real Estate today. A complete lack of trust, and an automatic assumption that the seller and seller agent are “trying to get one over” on the buyer. Even the buyer agent is regarded with suspicion, as if they are only after the commission share, and not interested in a successful deal on all sides.


Top Real Estate agents in this era are intrinsically community-minded. They interact with all walks of life, and tend to be firmly embedded in their neighborhoods, even joining groups, clubs, and chambers to stay in the know. The reputation as a dirty used-car salesperson is generally not earned, but rather a leftover from decades ago, when personal accountability and recognition were far lower, hiding behind an opaque facade of “professionalism”. Didn’t care for that agent’s attitude? Tough luck, kiddos, that’s a “businessperson” and you are lucky they even deigned to help you. 


Nowadays, if a Real Estate Agent wants to become a household name, as it were, it is practically a requirement to be on every social media platform, sharing constant, sometimes quite personal, stories and thoughts to their primary cities and surrounding areas, if not even casting the net a bit wider to larger areas of their state. Yes, they are focused on their career and selling houses, but the personal touch is more evident than ever before, an often overlooked (and underappreciated) practice which flies in the face of both older personas: the untrustworthy salesperson and the uptight businessperson. 


Currently, successful Real Estate agents are expertly well-connected and emotionally available to their clients, and even each other, as they will undoubtedly see the same competing agents time and again, and must (at the very least) maintain civility. So how is the trust still so low between selling teams and buying teams?


In one of the best-known tiny corners of the world (with one of the highest median home prices), Santa Cruz County realtors are working to chip away at this phenomenon. Exciting, fresh-faced new realty firms are sprouting and thriving, replacing the stodgily robotic and grumpy banker-style attitude with a vibrant go-getter approach. One of the most effective tools these new realty groups employ is proactivity.


Who Works For Who?


Firstly, it is critical to understand that Home Inspectors do NOT work for any particular side of a real estate deal. They are hired by a client, whether buyer, seller, or agent of either side, and the report goes to that client. If a house has issues (“findings” in the lingo), then any inspector worth their title will report those findings. Findings in a report are nobody’s “fault”, and no inspector is trying to “kill your sale”. Findings are the result of inspecting. Simple as that. The Home Inspector does not get commissions or kickbacks from a sale or price adjustment. They are there to inspect, tell the truth, and let others decide what they want to fix, if anything. If you expect a Home Inspector to alter a report for the sake of your sale/purchase, you are expecting fraud. You are a part of the trust problem in the industry, and I beg you to rethink your methods. 


Integrity is the cornerstone of a good Home Inspector, and we can only hope that the Industry continues to see positive change from this understanding. Gone are the dirty, gruff workers, reeking of stale cigarettes, who stomp around the house, poke holes in your walls, handwrite a few illegible notes in an incomprehensible shorthand, and leave (usually expecting an immediate cash payment but that is an article for another day). 


You can now reasonably expect a clean, well-uniformed, clearly-labeled professional to show up on time, armed with all the tools to get you the best report possible. Some use thermal cameras to identify possible leaks, and/or drones to inspect unwalkable roofs. All should be using PPE, and booties to protect your floors. Reports should be available within a day or two, and should be comprehensive, yet understandable, with clear photos. These days, there is simply no excuse for a business not taking multiple payment types, digital and analog, and some even allow for “pay at close” which bills escrow and can very much help cash-poor sellers and buyers.



Knowledge Is Power!


The current flow of a home-buying experience can be horrifically convoluted, often reversing to gather more data or change agreements. Not all of this can be easily solved, but a seller’s agent CAN mitigate the impact of household issues/findings by scheduling a home inspection early in the process. If the report only lists minor findings, great! You can proudly provide that report to prospective buyers, clearly indicating that you are not trying to hide anything, even small things. If there are large issues, you have the time and opportunity to fix what is possible and get a cleaner inspection report to disclose. The cost of these inspections is almost nil compared to the sales price a clean, maintained, and turn-key home can command. 


Time Is Money


While all houses have some issues, even brand-spanking-new structures (oh, the stories I have heard!), if a particular building will be needing extra love from the prospective buyers, everyone should know this upfront. Even though it’s often still SOP, we all know getting a home inspection only after making an offer can backfire horribly. No, I am not saying seller’s agents should highlight issues and create an unappealing purchase package, but buyers who are willing and able to fix up a house are generally very different buyers from those that need a move-in ready place to live. Lumping all buyers into the same category creates extra stress, paperwork, system strain, and perhaps most importantly, wastes everybody’s time. Leading buyers to feel forced and “pot-committed” after laying out an offer and deposit is just not necessary. There are plenty of buyers who would fit the bill, and any sale should not just be about commission, but a job truly well done. 




• Be Proactive

• Early Discovery and Disclosure Helps Everyone

• Smooth Out (and Possibly Shorten) the Process

• Create Happy Repeat Clients

• Sell More Houses!