for Dummies" Pre-Listing Summary
information is from
"House Selling for Dummies"
Count on it.
Prudent purchasers will have your property thoroughly inspected before
they buy it. Expect
inspectors to poke into everything — your house's roof, chimney, gutters,
plumbing, electrical wiring, heating and cooling systems, insulation, smoke
detectors, all the permanent appliances and fixtures in your kitchen and
bathrooms, and the foundation. They'll also check for health, safety, and
environmental hazards. If you live in a temperate climate, you can bet that
they'll also look for damage from wood-destroying insects (carpenter ants,
termites, and powder-post beetles) as well as dry rot and fungus infections.
fragrances, and all that other staging stuff aside, smart buyers know that a
house's physical condition greatly affects its value. No matter how beautifully
your property is staged, buyers won't pay top dollar for a house that needs
extensive, expensive repairs.
||The best defense is a
good offense. Beat buyers to the punch — get your inspections before
they get theirs. Discover everything wrong with your house before
putting it on the market. Defusing a crisis begins by discovering that a
Don't be an
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. That line of
reasoning is based on an ostrich-like logic: What you don't know can't get you
in trouble — for a while, anyway. Agents may
use a second argument to convince sellers not to get their own property
inspections: Buyers generally won't believe anything in reports paid for by
sellers. According to these agents, buyers suspect that you'll hire a go-easy
inspector to falsely report that your house is as solid as the Rock of
Gibraltar. Why spend several hundred dollars on an inspection report that buyers
won't believe? Again, you
can find a nugget of truth in this argument. Only a suicidal chicken would ask
the fox about how things are in the hen house. More than one unscrupulous seller
has paid an equally unscrupulous inspector to write a false inspection report.
Look at the
these four reasons to have your property thoroughly inspected before putting it
on the market:
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
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
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.
Quite a few
so-called house inspectors have neither the background nor the special training
required to do premarketing house inspections. Compounding your problem of
finding a qualified inspector, few states certify, license, or regulate house
inspectors. And, as we all know from personal experience with government
regulation, states that do regulate house inspectors don't always do a good job.
Anyone with a clipboard, a pickup truck, and a decent houseside manner can
instantly anoint himself or herself a house inspector nearly anywhere in the
Avoid contractors who
graciously offer to inspect your house and then do repairs that they discover during their inspection. If you're mechanically
challenged, unscrupulous contractors can use your ignorance to fatten
their wallets by billing you for phony corrective work they create
The best way around this
conflict of interest is to hire someone who performs only property inspections — a professional property inspector, not a
contractor wearing two hats. Doing property inspections requires special
expertise that not all contractors, engineers, and architects have. Good
professional property inspectors earn their living solely from
inspection fees and do not do corrective work. This restriction removes
any temptation to find unnecessary corrective work during inspections.
New homes are sometimes inspected
by local officials and rarely by the architect. These inspections have little to
do with the quality of the work done. They generally have to do with local codes
and construction methods.
You can protect your new
investment with construction monitoring which consists of three inspections. One
at the time the concrete is poured, one after all of the rough in work has been
done but before the wall covering is installed and a final inspection that is
done before you accept the building for occupancy. Your final inspection will
include information on how to maintain and operate many of the system in your
new home. You will also receive a complete punch list of defects for the builder
to address prior to you accepting the home.
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