Pre-Listing Property Inspections – To Do or Not to Do?
By Wayne Chaulk
It is useful to clarify the difference between a Pre-Listing home Inspection and a Pre-Purchase Home Inspection although the difference may seem obvious.
Like the name suggests, the Pre-Listing home inspection is undertaken prior to a property being put on the market and is organised and paid for by the seller. In contrast, a Pre-purchase home Inspection is organised and paid for by the prospective purchaser of a property, usually once a purchase contract has been negotiated between the parties and is a condition of the purchase.
There is debate over the prudence of doing a pre-listing inspection by a property seller. Some brokers and agents suggest that buyers not rely on any pre-listing inspection reports made available by a seller to a buyer as the assumption is the seller may not have rectified all faults identified in the pre listing report or possibly the seller did not hire one of the better inspectors to do a thorough job of identifying problems that a buyer would expect their chosen inspector to find. Also the report may be stale-dated if done months or even years in advance of going to market and new problems may have arisen on the property since that time. And of course the issue of air quality, mold testing etc, may not have been covered as part of a basic pre-listing inspection.
My perspective on pre-listing inspections is certainly that they can be very useful and could be informative to a prospective buyer if offered for review, but I feel a buyer should also do their own property inspection as part of their due diligence. The main reason that I suggest that a seller consider doing a pre-listing inspection is so the seller can become aware of any issues or deficiencies in advance and hopefully rectify any significant issues as well as any smaller items as reasonable before going to market. A pre-listing inspection may surface e.g. electrical, plumbing or mechanical issues, roofing problems, potential water damage or damage behind showers & baths, and even help uncover mold or material rotting issues in older dwellings.
Another significant issue the seller needs to confirm in the selling process is the type of basement structure that exists – concrete or preserved wood. If the basement walls are completely covered this may not be obvious but if you are unsure, an inspector can verify this. Many a deal has gone sideways with people assuming the basement is concrete and are surprised to find out through the inspection process that the basement is a preserved wood basement.
The advantages of a pre-listing inspection and the reason it is so important to catch faulty items and correct any issues prior to listing are twofold. Firstly, it improves the chances of a deal proceeding with a buyer not backing away because of issues found. And secondly, it can avoid downward negotiations by a buyer requesting compensation for items highlighted that the buyer would need to attend to when purchased. This is important because it sometimes happens that a buyer will over estimate the costs of repairs whereas a seller can check and compare various vendors to do any repairs in advance of listing and look for the most cost effective remedies. Also, when larger issues show up on a home inspection report for a buyer, they may consider walking from the deal if a seller will not compromise on monetary compensation.
It is my opinion that a pre-listing inspection often pays for itself in being fore-warned and fore-armed about possible problems in the home itself that could negatively affect the sale of one’s home.