In a recently published article in Realtor Magazine (aimed at industry professionals), the author provides a list that she encourages agents to suggest to our clients when it comes to low-cost, high ROI improvements to make before listing a property for sale. While many of the ideas are not new–have rugs cleaned, update old draperies, get rid of wallpaper, declutter, pay attention to landscaping (all VERY solid suggestions, by the way), she mentions a few that address current focuses that have only recently become important. For example, she suggests converting some outlets in high use areas to ones that provide USB ports as well as eliminating the need for ugly wires by installing a wireless router for internet and televisions around the house. She also recommends paying attention to both a house’s energy efficiency (and possibly addressing glaring issues) as well as the “health” of the house, which is quickly becoming a buyer concern.
One of her best suggestions is one I often give my sellers: have a pre-listing inspection done. There are three reasons: the first is to know what is going to turn up, so you are prepared. You can either choose to repair certain things or at least know that a buyer is likely to ask for repairs or a credit. It allows you to not be blindsided by a potentially significant reduction in your net proceeds due to inspections several days after you’ve negotiated a final sales price.
The second is that some buyers get scared by all of those items that are listed on an inspection report. If you can sort of “head them off at the pass” with an opportunity to explain things (and/or fix them), you can lessen the liklihood of a buyer terminating the contract.
The third advantage to having that prelisting inspection is that if you make it available to buyers (leave a copy on the table and provide a copy to any buyer’s agents whose clients might be writing an offer), you’ve disclosed everything. If you circle or highlight things you’ve repaired or are willing to credit for, it can help to set the buyer’s expectation as far as the things you, as a seller, consider your responsibility to repair and those that you DON’T. Even more important, if you’ve provided a copy of the pre-listing inspection, if a buyer comes back after his own inspection and asks for a credit for something you’ve ALREADY DISCLOSED, it’s a lot easier to say, “Sorry, we made that information available and believed when we agreed to the final offer that that issue was reflected in the offer price.”
So please consider a pre-listing inspection as it can save you unwelcome surprises which may reduce your net proceeds, prevent buyers from “getting scared off” and walking away and help you in the negotiating process.