Pre-inspect your house to anticipate buyer's inspector

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Here's an interesting trend: sellers paying for a pre-inspection of their home to prepare for the buyer's home inspector visit.

In other words, if you're selling a house, an interested buyer will have it checked out by a home inspector. If you're a seller, it seems logical to have a pre-inspection to learn what's wrong and possibly erase any leverage the buyer will suddenly have if they can say, "I'd love to pay your asking price, but I've noticed the roof leaks a little..."

As far as trends go, these pre-inspections have been around since at least the early 1990s (or that's when the media started picking up on the trend and began writing about the practice), but apparently, as it's getting more difficult to sell a house, it's happening with increased frequency. Scott Haiduck, who owns an AmeriSpec Home Inspection Service, in Chicago, says that from 2003 to 2006, he averaged 12 pre-listing inspections every year.

Last year, that figure nearly tripled to 34.

This year, he has had eight so far, currently on track for another 34. There are no national numbers for how often pre-inspections occur, since these are voluntarily expenses by the homeowner and the industry doesn't have to report their information to anyone but the homeowner.

Still, for what it's worth, Haiduck says that he keeps hearing from all the home inspectors he talks to that everyone's business is going up. (It's nice to know someone's business is doing well.)

It does sound like a smart idea. Granted, plenty of people are selling their homes because they can no longer afford them, and so they aren't likely to want to shell out an extra $250-400 on a pre-inspection. However, numerous couples and individuals are also, like Weezy and George, movin' on up, in which case I can see how it could be a great plan. After all, who wants a possible buyer to back out of a deal at the last second because he noticed that when you flush the toilet, your garage door opens?

Still, I won't be hiring anyone to give my house a pre-inspection any time soon. After all, a pre-inspection is generally arranged so you can turn up problems that you don't know about. At our very lived-in home, we know our problems.

Oh, boy, do we: window screens with holes in them from our indoor cats' claws; scratches around our doors from our indoor cats; a hole in the carpet from the time our dog, then a little older than a puppy, decided he wanted a snack on our week-old brand new carpet; faint traces of paint that still won't come up off the floor of the girls' bathroom, where our six-year-old was apparently--well, I'm not sure what she was trying to do. Then there's our basement, which used to be really nice before our power went out one night about seven years ago during a lengthy thunderstorm. The sump pump stopped working, and we wound up with about six inches of water covering our carpet. And, of course, we have two missing tiles in the kitchen...

Why do I have a sudden urge to check into a Holiday Inn?

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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