Should a seller have a home inspection?

In most transactions, the buyer obtains a home inspection once a property is in escrow. This is at the buyer’s expense.  In California, our contracts state that the buyer is purchasing the home in its current and as-is condition, subject to buyer’s inspection rights.  In theory, this is great. But what often happens is that two weeks into a real estate transaction, there is a new round of negotiations.  The buyers usually ask for some repairs, even if they are minor.

For years home inspectors have encouraged sellers to obtain a home inspection prior to putting their home on the market.  Most sellers don’t and this has been the “norm” for years.

When I have clients who are selling a home they have not lived in, say for a family trust, I advise them to have a home inspection up front, at their expense. These sellers usually have very limited knowledge about the condition of the home.  We make the inspection report available to the buyer for their review, we can actually post it as an attachment in the Multiple Listing Service (and encourage them to have their own home inspection once in escrow).  The beauty of it is that the buyer can make an offer based on much more knowledge about the home.  After all, buyers don’t usually crawl up in the attic, or under the house, or get on the roof prior to writing an offer.

This helps both the seller in properly pricing a home, and a buyer in making an offer based on more information about the property.  For instance, when the seller has provided a home inspection and it indicates that the water heater is near the end of its life, the buyer can adjust the price of the price offered, or ask for the water heater to be replaced prior to close of escrow.  Alternatively, the seller can price a home at a realistic price, higher or lower, based on the condition of the home, having taken into account items discovered during the inspection.

Even for traditional sellers who live in their homes, I think it is a great idea to invest in a home inspection up front. If there are items that need attention, the seller has the opportunity to take care of them up front and make note that those items have been remedied.

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