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Copyright© 2010
By: Fred Willcox
All Rights Reserved.

Should you get a real estate inspection when you sell your house? Under normal circumstances I would say “no”. But these are not normal times. The housing selling market is very tight. There are a lot of houses on the market and there are not that many buyers. When you get a contract on your house you don’t want to lose the buyer. That may make a pre-listing house inspection a good idea.

A house inspection can tell you the actual condition of your home. It will open your eyes to the problems that exist and the issues that are likely to arise when the buyer has an inspection performed. There are always problems and issues with any house.

Most sellers are emotionally attached to their homes. They do not like anyone criticizing the home where they have lived and raised their family. And that is understandable. But in today’s house selling market in Houston you must not react emotionally when the buyer presents their list of repairs or a request for compensation. A pre-listing inspection, if it does nothing else, can prepare you mentally and emotionally for the buyer’s repair list or compensation request.

A pre-listing inspection can also help you when you set a sales price on your home. If you overprice your home when you list it your house will sit on the market. A house that sits on the market indicates to possible buyers that there may be problems with the house and buyers are not as likely to look favorably on houses they think has problems. The longer your house sits on the market the more likely it is that your house will stay on the market. Pricing your house properly will help you sell your house more quickly.

When you get the report from your pre-listing inspection, you can decide whether to make the repairs indicated, to update any life/safety deficiencies or to replace any functionally obsolete equipment. Or you may decide to give a repair allowance or to lower the listing price for your home.

Do not be surprised when the buyer’s inspection report notes additional items. Every inspector has areas where they are weak and areas in which they have greater knowledge. The real estate inspector you hire may have a background in construction and may be excellent at inspecting the structural framing. But the inspector may be weak on electrical components. The buyer’s inspection may have a background as an electrician. Each inspector also uses their subjective judgment and may use different standards. For example, many inspectors test the performance of an air conditioning cooling system by only taking the temperature drop across the evaporator coil as required by the minimum standards of practice of the Texas Real Estate Commission. But the inspectors may use different standards of acceptability for the temperature drop. One inspector may be of the opinion that a 16 to 20 degree drop is acceptable. Another inspector may be of the opinion that a 15 to 22 degree drop is acceptable.

In a tight selling market, a pre-listing inspection makes sense. Be aware that there are disclosure laws. An inspection performed by a licensed real estate inspector per an earnest money contract or an intent to sell must be performed under the rules of the Texas Real Estate Commission and the report is likely to be required to be disclosed. Consult with your Realtor or with your attorney if you are concerned about disclosure information.

If you choose to hire a real estate inspector to perform a pre-listing inspection, get an inspector who performs a thorough, detailed inspection and who provides you with a detailed inspection report. There is no use in getting a pre-listing inspection if the inspector you hire performs only a cursory, overview type inspection. You hope the buyer of your house hires this type of inspector. If you are going to prepare correctly, you need a thorough, detailed inspection and a report that explains to you what the defects and deficiencies are and why the defect is a problem. Then you can properly plan your course of action to sell your house quickly and for the best price you can get.