Sellers often ask: Should I do a pre-inspection on my home before I put it on the market?
Like many questions, the answer is “it depends.” There are two schools of thought and in the end, it is up to the seller, but we do have a recommendation.
A pre-inspection is done by a professional inspector, hired by the seller and in theory, that inspector will look at and find everything the buyer’s inspector will look for and comment on. The seller would then fix everything that the inspector points out and a copy of the report would be left for the buyer so that they can see what the seller has fixed, showing that the seller is conscientious about maintaining the home. That’s the idea, but the reality is sometimes very different.
Home inspectors are generalists and often, former contractors. Since the housing downturn, some of the weaker home inspectors dropped out because they weren’t getting enough business. Others, including contractors and handymen, not in the business, that didn’t have enough work, bought into a home inspection franchise and thought that it would be a good place to apply their skills and generate income. They got a name, the proper paperwork and watched some videos on what to do in an organized manner, how to write up potential problems and advise clients on the condition of the house. The problem with this part of the story is that these kinds of inspectors often don’t have the experience and breadth of knowledge that is required to know what is normal, acceptable, or beyond their scope of experience.
Home inspection is a serious part of the home buying process. When the market was red hot, buyers bought homes without inspections so that they wouldn’t miss out on “a hot deal.” Now, a buyer wouldn’t dream of purchasing a home without an inspection. The purpose of an inspection is to look for structural and safety issues in a home. We have been through a couple of bad inspections recently, both representing the buyer and the seller where the inspection almost killed the deal because the inspector commented on things he didn’t have all the facts on and where he was just wrong. One inspector said that the chimney on a gas fireplace was not to code, but he was wrong. Another inspector said that knob and tube wiring was bad and caused the buyers to pay $250 for an additional inspections and the electrician said it was fine. Another inspector said that a brand new roof was incorrectly installed and it turned out that the buyer didn’t like the roof and wanted a metal roof. Another inspector said that the decorative stone in the front of the house was incorrectly installed and the manufacturer came out and inspected it and said it was perfect. I have many more stories.
So, as the seller, a pre-inspection might make you feel better knowing what you should address, but the buyer’s inspector might come up with other things that are important to him and incorrect. Selling is going to cost you time, money and energy. Why fix something that may be important to you, but isn’t important to the buyer but other things are. Doing a pre-inspection has some risks, like everything else, but it is the seller’s decision.