August 31, 2008
Pre-inspection urged before sale
By Ellen S. WilkoweGannett News Service
Two cracked rafters, the central air conditioning that "worked fine last summer" and the hot water heater approaching its golden years.
Home sellers beware. Come closing, these are just some items that can make or break a deal, especially if found during the buyer's inspection, a little too little, a little too late.
As home sales have declined, this may be a good time for sellers to invest in a pre-inspection.
So what exactly constitutes a pre-inspection?
Consider it the prequel to the buyer inspection, a preparatory move on the seller's side to find out the true value of the home before listing it. This also may buy the seller time to fix any problems that surface.
One homeowner's comfort may register as a potential buyer's complaint.
"When you're living in a home you get used to things," says Sergio Angione of Towaco, N.J., a home inspector with the HouseMaster home inspection franchise. "For example, a buyer might say, 'Why should we have to press the garage door opener twice to open it?' "
Inspections often reveal something seemingly as trivial as a garage door opener quirk to more pressing issues often undetected by homeowners - such as cracked rafters in the attic or termite damage.
Depending on the size of the structure, a standard inspection can take from 1½ to 3 hours and cost $300 to $500, Angione says.
The inspector conducts a visual evaluation and provides written documentation on the following:
Central air conditioning system (temperature permitting).
Interior plumbing and electrical systems.
Roof, attic and visible insulation.
Walls, ceilings, floors windows and door.
Foundation, basement and visible structure.
Built-in major appliances.
The inspector may recommend and arrange for additional services such as septic and well evaluations, pool or lawn sprinkler inspections, and radon testing.
With the buyer in the driver's seat, the concept of pre-inspections is earning endorsements from real estate agents.
In parts of New Jersey saturated with septic tanks and private wells, seller-initiated inspections garnered the support of Linda McCullough, a broker with Re/Max Classic Group in West Milford.
Pre-inspections also instill confidence in the seller, McCullough says. "It's really a marketing tool."
HouseMaster can affix a pre-inspected logo to the online listing and post a sign on the lawn and tent cards throughout the home alerting buyers and agents that a pre-inspection report is available.
When it comes down to the wire, the seller can use the pre-inspection report as a bargaining tool much as the buyer does when hiring a home inspector.
"It's better to work out the deficiencies and address the issues than turn off a buyer," says Bret Kaufmann, treasurer of the Garden State Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors. "Some of these issues homeowners are unaware of and would likely address anyway."
Heating and air conditioning exhaust, mold-causing plumbing problems, and roof leaks are common problems that often surface as a result of an inspection, says Kaufmann.
Customer Loyalty Manager
Inspection Plus, LTD.
5381 Autumnwood Drive
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242
513-793-3552 Office Phone