Key takeaways

  • A pre-listing inspection is an option for sellers to have their home inspected before listing it for sale.
  • While not a necessity, pre-listing inspections can be beneficial for sellers to get ahead of any potential problems.
  • However, if the inspector uncovers any problems with the house, sellers may be required to disclose them to the buyer.

If you’re preparing to sell your home, you already have plenty of items to check off your to-do list. One additional task you might have heard of is a pre-listing inspection, also sometimes called a pre-sale inspection, which you can get before you list your home on the market.

But aren’t home inspections usually done by the buyer, not the seller? Is a pre-listing inspection really necessary? Here’s what to know.

What is a pre-listing inspection?

Pre-listing inspections are exactly what they sound like: Before you officially list your home for sale, a professional home inspector examines your property to identify any potential problems or repairs that need to be addressed. Think of it as an opportunity to know what the buyer might request before an offer is made or a purchase agreement is signed.

“A pre-listing inspection will make sure the seller is aware of any issues prior to the buyer becoming aware, allowing them more time to prepare for negotiation or time to fix the issues,” says agent Angelica Olmsted of Denver RE/MAX Professionals. She adds that this can help sellers understand the cost of any repairs, too: “It can also assist the seller when it comes to determining a price to sell or accepting an offer.”

What does a pre-listing inspection cover?

It depends: For a pre-listing inspection, you can decide how thorough you want your inspector to be. If you have one main concern, such as a crack in the foundation, you can limit things to just that area. Or, you might opt for a comprehensive job similar to the standard home inspection your buyer will likely commission.

Other areas a pre-listing inspection could cover include:

  • Evaluating the anticipated lifespan of the roof
  • Certifying that a DIY remodel was done properly
  • Investigating the presence or absence of hazardous materials, like lead paint and asbestos
  • Assessing water quality, especially if the home uses well water

Home inspection vs. pre-listing inspection

One key distinction between these two types of inspection is who’s paying for it. If you’re selling your home and you’d like to do a pre-listing inspection, you’ll be footing the bill, rather than the buyer.

“The main difference between a pre-listing home inspection and a traditional one is whom the report is being completed for,” Olmsted says. “A pre-listing home inspection is typically completed by the seller, while the traditional home inspection is for the buyer, so they know what they are getting into.

Do I really need a pre-listing inspection?

While it can be beneficial for a seller to do, a pre-listing inspection isn’t always necessary. For example, if your home is relatively new and you’ve been the only owner, you’re most likely already aware of any big issues that could impact a sale. But for an older home, a pre-listing inspection can be very insightful and help you get ahead of any potential problems.

It can also be helpful to get one if you’re hoping to sell your house quickly, Olmsted says: “If the seller needs a quick timeline to close, with tight deadlines, a pre-listing inspection may help them stay a few steps ahead in the process.”

How much does a pre-listing inspection cost?

According to HomeAdvisor, a typical home inspection ranges from $281 to $403, averaging around $342. But the cost is extremely dependent on local market conditions, as well as the size and age of the home. A 5,000-square-foot historical home in Boston, for example, will obviously cost more to inspect than a new-construction, 800-square-foot condo in a rural area. If you are limiting your pre-listing inspection to a specific area, like the roof or foundation only, you can expect to pay less than a full inspection would cost.

Pros and cons of a pre-listing inspection


  • IIt can eliminate buyer requests for concessions: Let’s say your pre-listing inspection turns up some issues with the home’s plumbing. If a buyer finds those same issues and asks for a $3,000 credit or concession, you’d ultimately be making less on the sale. With a pre-listing inspection, you can have it fixed it before you sell and potentially build those repair costs into your list price.
  • It can make your home more attractive to buyers: If your pre-listing inspection report looks like an A+, advertising this to prospective buyers can be beneficial to you as the seller, because they see that your home is in excellent condition.
  • It can speed up the selling process: Closing a real estate transaction can take some time, even in a fast-paced market. A pre-listing inspection can help you proactively fix issues that could otherwise create hiccups that delay the deal.


  • It’s another cost: Selling a house comes with various costs already, and tacking on one more might not be worth it to you if it’s not mandatory.
  • It could conflict with the buyer’s inspection: It’s likely a buyer will still hire an inspector to do a regular home inspection, and that inspector might have a different view of your home than the pre-listing inspector did.
  • It might mean paying for unnecessary repairs: You never know what will and won’t matter to a potential buyer. You could wind up paying to fix things that your buyer would not have noticed or cared about.


  • In most states, when you sell your home, you must complete a disclosure form that details your knowledge of potential issues. This is typically just problems that you know about — you’re not required to go searching for problems. If a pre-listing inspection turns up issues, then you know about them, which means you’ll likely be required to disclose them. “The seller should review each line [of the inspection report] with their real estate professional to determine what issues should be addressed or disclosed to the buyers,” says Denver real estate agent Angelica Olmstead.
  • Pre-listing inspections are not a mandatory part of the home-selling process, but getting one can be useful. For example, if your home is found to be in great shape, that can be a big selling point for prospective buyers. And if an issue is uncovered, it gives you a chance to take care of it early, before buyers see it, which can save you money and time.