We are starting to hear more and more agents recommending pre-inspections to their sellers. But, why would a seller even consider investing good money to potentially find out something is wrong with their home?
Because the buyers are going to do a home inspection. And the re-negotiation begins...
Let's start first with the purpose of the home inspection. The home inspection is a protection for the buyer to help determine if there are any material defects that the buyer is unaware of. It allows the buyer to get a true picture of the property they are purchasing.
Presenting the buyer with a pre-inspection allows them to view the property "eyes wide open" and make an appropriate offer to purchase. Nothing hidden, nothing unknown.
The inspection is NOT to be used as a way to re-negotiate a price because the buyer thinks they paid too much or as a way to get out of a contract because the buyers have second thoughts. But, unfortunately, the home inspection is often used for this purpose. And frequently, the costs incurred are greatly inflated when the buyer is making these requests.
As a buyer's agent, part of what we do is to educate our clients. How the process works, what is customary, negotiating, etc. are all part of helping our client fill their needs. Helping them to understand the inspection process is important and can help avoid (at least some) misunderstandings.
I strongly encourage all buyer's agents to help their clients understand the process long before writing an offer. The more they know, the more solid their offer becomes. Let's face it- once buyers are in the throws of writing an offer, they are not hearing anything you're saying about the inspection. Many buyers just assume that they can walk away from the transaction, without penalty, for any reason. (And where did the "3 day right of recision" rumor come from? I still hear that one thrown about. That's a discussion for another day.)
That original furnace? According to the pre-inspection, it's 20 years old and in good working condition. Although, it doesn't take a home inspection to observe that the original furnace in a 20-year-old house is 20 years old, most buyers would not be able to determine the working condition of the unit. If the buyers are uncomfortable with the fact that the furnace is 20 years old, no matter how well it works, that should be addressed in the purchase agreement, not in an inspection addendum.
What about radon? What if the sellers provide a test that reads, say 4.8? At this point, the buyer should decide what they want to do. Are they going to ask for remediation, or are they ok with the reading being above 4.0? So, now what happens if the buyers decide to do their own radon test? They've really just raised the benchmark at which they can request remediation. If it comes in over 4.8, it would be a legitimate ask. But, if the reading comes in below 4.8 (and above 4.0), because they knew about the 4.8 reading, and wrote an offer on the property with this knowledge, it would not be a legitimate ask to request remediation, price reduction, or contract cancellation at this point.
Should the buyer get their own inspection on a home that has been pre-inspected? Absolutely! We all know that some inspectors are more knowledgeable than others and Iowa does not have any qualifications to be a home inspector. Even homeowners vary greatly as to how knowledgeable (and honest) they are about their own home.
Will pre-inspections solve the craziness that we have with home inspection requests? Probably not. But, could they keep a few more transactions together? It's definitely something to think about.