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Pre-listing home inspections

In today's busy housing market, pre-listing home inspections may give sellers a competitive edge.

While buyer's pre-purchase inspections are now very common, sellers providing an inspection report at the outset can speed up the real estate process. A pre-inspection report can provide both participants with critical information so there are no last-minute surprises about the house that can delay or forfeit a sale.

To gain insight into the benefits of pre-listing inspections, we spoke to an experienced home inspection consulting firm, and a financial professional with hands-on personal experience.

When it comes to home inspections, the trend is clearly on the rise. To date, "more than seven out of 10 home buyers will have a home inspection," says Brian Bell, vice president, sales and marketing at Toronto-based Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd. "We've also seen pre-listing home inspection take off, especially in the last quarter during the heat of the Toronto housing market."

One of the reasons for the interest in pre-listing inspections may boil down to the pressure of time constraints. "When there are multiple offers, a lot of buyers will walk away because they're too scared to take the risk of not doing a home inspection," says Bell. So when the seller provides that information upfront, more people come to the negotiating table understanding what the risks of the property are.

Inspectors from Carson, Dunlop provide their clients with a summary report of the key findings on the house, improvement recommendations and cost estimates. Reference material is also provided to help homeowners understand the life cycles and expenses involved in critical home maintenance. The ballpark cost of a home inspection ranges from $400 to $500 for a standard-size house.

Fix or disclose the problem?
If a pre-listing home inspection uncovers issues with the house, it may not be necessary, or even advantageous, for the owners to fix the problem. It all depends on the strategy and preferences of the seller. If the seller's desire is to put the house on the market in perfect condition, then by all means hire a qualified contractor and get the work done.

"Our recommendation is to leave it," says Bell. "A lot of buyers like to use their own contractors that they know and trust, so it's really preference. From our perspective, we just want to make sure that the items are identified."

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-- Posted June 6, 2012
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