Real Estate Market

Sellers? Get inspection protection

(3/11/11) Erate Exclusive - With most buyers looking for move-in ready starter homes, it behooves sellers to have a pre-listing home inspection.

Without such an inspection, buyers could see your home as a Pandora's Box and refuse to close the deal.

The National Association of Realtors says first-time buyers represent 33 percent of today's buyers, a growing share, and seldom are they trawling for distressed properties.

A recent Coldwell Banker survey of 300, 2010 first-timers, found the vast majority of them, 87 percent, don't want a fixer-upper.

Looking for much less room for improvement, today's buyers more often want entry-level homes, but they want them in move-in condition.

A home inspection gives you the opportunity to give buyers what they want, often without lowering your price.

Buyers typically get their own home inspection, and they should, to perform their own due diligence. Deals often fall through at this point, because home inspections almost always turns up something -- even on new homes -- and that could slow the deal or kill it.

You need an inspection to level the playing field by reducing the likelihood the buyer will find your home less than desirable.

A professional home inspection, conducted by an inspector who has no general contracting interest in your home, should give the once over to all the major systems in your home. That includes the structure, plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, roofing and interior. Some may or may not examine fireplaces, swimming pools, solar systems and other more esoteric components.

The inspector can recommend other inspection experts for systems he or she doesn't inspect.

The inspection gives you a narrative report you can use to help you set your price based on the condition of the home. Of course the appraisal and comparative sales analysis play a greater role in setting the price.

You can also present the report to the buyer as an upfront negotiating tool that removes unexpected surprises from the wrangling.

Getting a home inspection also helps remove disclosure liability because it gives you lots of disclosure information about the condition of your property. That helps you avoid those pesky complaints or even lawsuits about what you "should have known" and disclosed about the condition of your home.

Also, a known problem is a solvable problem. You, as the seller, can choose to sell the home as-is, in which case the buyer is aware of what as-is really is. Or you can use the report as a blue print to make reasonable repairs to bring the home closer to the move-in conditions many buyers expect.

Another option is to use the report to negotiate with the buyer who fixes what or what concessions the seller can make in lieu of repairs, replacements or upgrades.

Find a locally licensed or certified home inspector through referrals from friends, family, co-workers and others you trust, who've recently used the inspector during a successful transaction. Check out the inspectors' credentials with the local licensing or certifying agency, as well as their affiliation and standing with trade groups.

Choose an inspector who doesn't work for you as a general contractor. That could be a conflict of interest should he or she turn up problems.

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