You’ve probably heard of a home inspection, but what is a “pre-inspection”? An inspection before the inspection? Not quite.
The “pre” part usually means before there’s an offer or contract on a house. A seller may consider hiring a home inspector before putting a house on the market and buyers might get a pre-inspection before they make an offer.
What Does a Home Inspection Cover?
This detailed, itemized report determines the condition of home systems, identifies deterioration, and provides recommendations. The home inspection is part of a buyer’s due diligence to ensure the major systems are in good condition and that there are no serious, expensive defects unknown to the seller.
Many real estate sales contracts contain a home inspection contingency, which makes the contract conditional upon the outcome of the home inspection report. Also, the buyer’s agent might negotiate a provision requiring the seller to complete needed repairs identified by the inspector before closing.
The inspector examines key elements, ensuring proper operation, observing the condition, and noting damage, including the:
- Structure: Foundation and framing
- Interior: Windows, doors, ceilings, walls, floors, attic, and basement
- Plumbing and electrical systems
Some agents recommend pest and roof inspections.
Advantages of a Pre-Inspection
The worst time to discover something major like a foundation problem is after you’ve got a contract and you’re almost ready to close. There could be invisible problems lurking in the house. A home seller might get a pre-inspection to avoid surprises that can derail a sales transaction. This can be a good idea when selling an older house you’ve lived in for several years.
A pre-offer inspection can identify problems and give you time to repair them. Also, sellers can boast a “clean bill of health” and that they’re being upfront about the condition. A pre-inspection can also help when pricing the house.
While many states require sellers to provide buyers with property condition disclosures, agents advise buyers to hire an independent home inspector to examine the property. Home inspections are often required by the buyer’s lender.
Disadvantages of a Pre-Inspection
Different inspectors can produce different inspection reports. A seller could fix defects identified in the pre-inspection, but later the buyer’s inspector identifies different problems. So, some agents think it’s a waste of money. Inspections can cost $500.
Also, you’ll likely have to report any defects your inspector finds.
Should You Get a Pre-Inspection?
The quick answer is: Ask your real estate agent. He or she will be knowledgeable about the local market, the economic climate, and appropriate negotiating strategies. The answer may also be determined by the age and condition of the house and whether you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market.
A pre-inspection can give the seller the upper hand when it comes to property condition. It’s better to know beforehand what repairs may be necessary and which appliances and systems might turn off prospective buyers. The fewer condition problems or red flags, the higher the offers and the faster the house can sell.
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