Updated: Sep 6, 2019
There's a school of thought it makes sense to do a pre-inspection and make the repairs on a home before getting it on the market. After all, it shows the seller is trying to do the right thing and wants to give the buyer some confidence the home is in great shape.
On the surface, it sounds like a great idea, but with few exceptions, I encourage my sellers not to pre-inspect. This may sound strange, but I have good reasons why. I'll share a perfect example why with you below.
The Condition of the Home Can Change at Any Moment
First off, an inspection is really only good for the day and time it took place. Anything can happen to a home at any time. The HVAC, hot water heater, pool equipment or any electrical appliance may be working at the time of the inspection but go out later in the day. It's happened.
If I get permission from the seller to provide the buyer with a prior inspection report (and I always highly encourage the seller to share it) I make sure the buyer agent or agent acknowledges in writing they are welcome to have it, but we are not representing that's the condition of the home. They need to rely on their own inspection. I can't force a buyer to conduct their own inspection, but I can cover my bases with solid documentation.
All Inspectors and Inspections the Same, Right?
Absolutely not. Ask three inspectors to inspect the same home and I guarantee they'll all find something different. They may all find some things in common, but they won't find everything. In Texas, inspectors are given some leeway on what they call out on an inspection report, however there are certain items they are required to inspect.
Frankly, some inspectors are tougher and more thorough than others. Some will move boxes in the attic to get into tight spaces others won't. They'll just note something like "could not inspect area in attic blocked by boxes".
Some inspectors are slower and methodical calling out every potential issue they see. Those inspections can easily take 5-6 hours and I've had some that blow through a home in an hour. Who would you want inspecting a home you're thinking about buying?
The Four Inspection Nightmare
Several years ago I had a home listed that went under contract and fell out three different times over a one year period. The buyers all backed out after they completed the inspection, but none terminated the contract due to the condition of the home.
One of the buyers just got cold feet, another couldn't get their financing, and a third found a home they liked better. I'd never had that happen to me before and it was very frustrating, but it also allowed me to see how similar four inspections by four different inspectors would be.
All four inspection reports found different issues. There were never any big items, just a lot of fairly minor issues. No deal killers. That was the most inspected home in the area. But it made me wonder why the previous inspectors never called out the items the following inspectors noted.
What's worse is my sellers, wanting to be proactive and do the right thing, repaired every item that was called out after every inspection. Every time they thought they were through with repairs, but they weren't. The fourth inspection uncovered a potential problem with the structural support over the patio. How the three before him missed it, I have no idea.
If the first buyer had relied on the first inspection and closed on the home, the seller would have saved thousands of dollars. The structural issue over the patio wouldn't have come up, but it's up to the
If a seller wants to do a pre-inspection before placing their home on the market, I'm certainly not going to discourage them. I just make sure they understand the buyer is probably not going to rely on that inspection and will (or at least should) do another. They'll very likely be asked to do repairs off of the buyer's inspection. Then, I'll share the story of the home I sold after four different inspections. That usually convinces them to wait on the buyer to do their own inspection.
My One Exception
If the seller tells me they think they have a structural or safety related issue, I always advise them to have those areas inspected. It doesn't have to be a full blown inspection of the entire home. They need to be repaired and removed as a potential objection with buyers.
I always encourage my sellers to use licensed contractors for repairs, document the work, and disclose the repair on the Sellers Disclosure Notice. The Sellers Disclosure is by far the number one reason buyers and sellers end up in litigation. The key to staying out of trouble when selling a home is disclose, disclose, disclose.