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4 Reasons to Have Your Property Thoroughly Inspected Before Putting It on the Market

Some real estate agents argue against getting a house inspected before putting it on the market: Many states now require that sellers disclose any known property defects to prospective buyers. These agents point out that you can’t tell buyers about problems if you don’t know that the problems exist. Handing buyers a long list of repair problems as they enter your house will turn many of them off. They recommend getting buyers emotionally committed to the property first, before their own inspectors drop the bomb.

  • Damage control: Suppose that your house needs a new foundation. The problem is there whether you know about it or not. Why wait passively for an ultimatum to fix the foundation at a cost established by the buyer’s inspection or kiss the deal good-bye? If you discover the problem before marketing the house, you can either disclose it to prospective buyers with a repair estimate or, although it’s not recommended, you can do the work before putting your house up for sale. Your negotiating position is much stronger if you know about problems in advance — and accurately know the cost to correct them.

    You can’t lose what you never had. Some buyers won’t want to tour your house if they know that it needs a great deal of repair work. Those buyers don’t want a fixer-upper. Even if you paid for all the repairs, they still wouldn’t buy your house. Forget them. Concentrate on buyers who are willing to do corrective work after the close of escrow if your price and terms are fair.

  • Financial planning: Having a realistic estimate of your present house’s net proceeds of sale before committing to buy a new home is important. Asking prices aren’t sale prices. If your house needs major repairs, you’ll pay for them one way or another — either by doing the repairs yourself, by reducing your asking price to reflect the cost of repairs, or by giving buyers a credit in escrow to do the work.

    Latent defects — flaws hidden out of sight behind walls or concealed in inaccessible areas, such as under your house or up in the attic where you can’t see them — are time bombs. Defects you can’t see and don’t know about (such as faulty wiring, termite damage, a cracked heat-exchanger in your furnace, dry rot, asbestos insulation, lead in your water pipes, and so on) are potential deal killers. A good premarketing inspection can reveal all these problems.

  • Fine tuning: Professional property inspectors can help you spot minor defects, such as dirty filters in the heating system; ventilation problems in the basement, garage, or crawl space; blocked gutters; loose doorknobs; stuck windows; a missing chimney hood or spark arrester, and so on. Eliminating small maintenance problems like these gives prospective buyers who tour the property a favorable — and correct — impression that your house is extremely well-maintained.
  • Peace of mind: The inspector alerts you to health and safety precautions you should take. Installing smoke detectors, grounding electrical outlets, and keeping flammable products away from furnaces, heaters, and fireplaces, for example, make your house safer for the next owner and safer for you as long as you continue living in it.

Sam Jabuka
President, Jabuka Home Inspections

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