Pre-Listing Home Inspections – keep it sold after the sale


Liz Jenkins


I’ve talked on my personal blog about pre-listing home inspections before, but I think this is such an important subject that unfortunately doesn’t get the attention it deserves when a house gets listed.  I feel so strongly about it that I’d rather someone had the inspection and fixed the issues found in the inspection than have me stage a house.  Granted, my husband is an inspector so it stays in the family but no matter how clean, spacious and appealing I can make a house – if major problems show up on a home inspection – not only is there a risk of having the deal fall through, but everyone is scrambling to re-negotiate and fix everything requested by the buyer. 

To clarify:  A Pre-Listing Inspection is one that is preferably done PRIOR to listing the home.  It’s full inspection, just as if a buyer were doing it.  Do this step with enough lead time to make any needed corrections on the home. 

Your best bet as a stager or as an agent is to recommend a pre-listing inspection.  Generally they run $300 to $400 depending on the size of the house (most charge by the square foot – how much per square foot may vary by area but here in Tennessee it’s generally 11 – 12 cents, and older houses usually get additional fees added on for the extra work involved).  This may be the best investment a seller can make. 

At a recent pre-listing inspection, Bill found the following:

  • structural damage in the foundation that was causing the master bedroom to drop by about 1-2″
  • mold in the crawl space
  • snake skins in the crawl space
  • roof damage in several areas
  • a major leak under the dishwasher
  • a significant gap in the ductwork in the crawl space that was not only wasting energy but sucking crawl space air into the house and circulating it through the HVAC system (maybe this is where the funky smell was coming from?)

This is along with all of the maintenance and other minor issues that were found.  Can you imagine a buyer’s reaction (well, you’ve probably seen it) to this stuff?  The mold alone . . . yeesh.

The client is taking care of all of these things BEFORE staging the house.  She was a bit freaked out when she got the report- but quickly realized that’s it is better to know now, than after the house sells.  Of course, no inspector can see everything and things can change over time.  But this step can reduce the chances of the deal collapsing after the inspection.  In my personal experience, houses that had the inspection and made repairs up front glided through the inspection process.  Things were found but were minor and easily resolved. 

So, while it can be a bigger up front investment than some sellers may want to make, it will usually save them a lot of money in the long run.  A combination of the pre-listing inspection, necessary repairs and a great staging job can make the difference between a house selling – selling quickly – selling for more money – and staying SOLD.