A pre-listing home inspection can help sellers avoid surprises

Buyers are typically encouraged to get a home inspection as part of a residential purchase. This process alerts them to any deficiencies or problems with the home, and the inspector's report can be used to negotiate certain conditions of the sale. The buyer may ask the seller to repair some issues with the property, or lower the asking price to cover this work.

Since the inspection is usually initiated by the buyer, the seller is unlikely to consider getting an inspection on their own. Yet hiring an inspector before listing the property can help you identify any issues that need to be resolved and sell your home more quickly.

A seller's inspection can use the same companies hired by buyers. Nick Gromicko, writing for the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, says the seller usually makes copies of the inspector's report to share with any potential buyers who are looking at the property.

A pre-listing inspection can let you know in advance if there are any problems with your home. Lisa Kaplan Gordon, writing for the National Association of Realtors, says buyers can gain the advantage in negotiations or even withdraw their offer completely if an inspection reveals several issues that need to be remedied. By getting their own inspection, you won't be caught by surprise.

Once the inspection is completed, you'll have several options for how to proceed. Daniel Schuerman, a home inspector writing for Angie's List, says you can work with your listing agent to determine how to address any deficiencies with the property. You'll also have more time to compare bids and choose a company to complete the work.

The report can be very useful in determining the right price for your home. If you aren't planning to repair some faults identified by the inspector, you can lower the price by the corresponding cost of that work. A clean inspection report, or one amended with proof that repairs have been completed, can also be used to justify a higher asking price.

A seller's inspection report can also be seen as a show of good faith to potential buyers. Gromicko says information on a home's condition, provided by an independent third-party inspection, can help alleviate concerns or suspicions about the property. It can also help ease negotiations after a buyer has made an offer.

There are certain disadvantages to getting an inspection before listing your home, though. Marcia Stewart, writing for the legal site Nolo, says sellers will have to disclose any known defects to potential buyers. If your pre-listing inspection uncovers an issue you were previously unaware of, buyers may be less willing to consider the home or more likely to suggest a lower price.

The inspection won't come free of charge; you should expect to pay several hundred dollars for the service. It will cost even more if you decide to hire a specialized inspector for issues such as pests or soil grading.

Gromicko says buyers may be willing to waive the inspection contingency if the seller has already had the property inspected. While this can help streamline the purchase, it might not work in your favor. Tara-Nicholle Nelson, writing for the real estate site Inman News, says sellers should advise that their inspection report is for informational purposes only. If a buyer relies on the report for their purchase and finds other problems later on, they may hold you liable.

Even when you have had the home inspected and completed repairs, you might not have addressed every issue. Gordon says the inspector hired by the buyer might identify some problems that your own inspector overlooked. In this case, they can still demand repairs or a reduction in the asking price.

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