I have made the case for doing pre-listing inspections before and I thought I would take another stab at it. They are still VERY rare in my market.
As a home inspector I have to overcome the obvious fact that it is in my best interest to have pre-listing inspections done. After all, if all homes had pre-listing inspections, it would double the amount of inspections and result in doubling the amount of money to be made doing home inspections.
Since there is no way to get around this issue, I will simply ignore it and move on to my opinion that all homes should have an inspection done prior to listing.
I am aware that many listing agents seem to take an ostrich approach to listing houses---figuring it is better to not know what evil lurks in the crawl space and leave the burden of discovery to the buyer. The fact that a very live buyer can quickly turn into a dead sale still does not convince very many agents to encourage their sellers to have these inspections done.
The other day I did a post about a house with a serious Anobiid Beetle infestation that ended up going south---for this and other reasons.
My buyer wondered how such a house could have ever made it to the sale market in the first place and felt that the listing agent should have had a better idea of the goods they were placing on the market.
Their comments rang all too true, and the issue could have easily been addressed by a pre-listing inspection. Sure the inspection might have resulted in a whole different strategy for sale of the property---including selling it for purely the land value (awesome location)---but is that a bad thing?
Regardless, it would not have resulted in an unsuspecting buyer throwing perfectly good money at a futile enterprise.
Sooner or later the piper will be paid so why not know ahead of time?
Do we really want to treat someone's future home like a used car? Even they get "detailed" prior to sale. Perhaps that is what staging is all about. I prefer not to think like that.
Of course there is the principle of “there is a sucker born every day,” that could be at work. To me that approach is of questionable integrity.
Now while I don’t think pre-listing inspections should be required, I really hope that they become recognized as the “right thing to do”---without any regulatory requirement for them.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board