Home Inspections for Sellers: Why It Can Be Worth It

magnifying glass examining...
By Donna Fuscaldo

"The buyer has the upper hand when they have an inspection," says Coldwell Banker consumer specialist and agent Jessica Edwards. "If you are willing to do it ahead of time, you give the control back to the seller."

One of the most common ways to sink a home sale or lower the bidding price is a surprise finding in a home inspection, and this is prompting some sellers to take the precautionary step of having an inspection before listing. A home inspection can cost as much as $500, but real estate experts say it's a great way to take any of the unknowns out of the home selling equation.

According to real estate agents, having a home inspection prior to listing offers a host of benefits with little upfront cost. It identifies any major problems that could later scare off would-be bidders. Buying a house is an emotional and scary experience, especially for first-time buyers, and if the home inspection comes back with a major repair needed, it could scare them off, even if the seller agrees to fix it.

"If you have the items repaired or replaced ahead of time and it doesn't come up with the buyer, it's a non-issue," says Edwards, noting that it also helps sellers who can't or won't fix items to adjust their asking price accordingly.

She adds that it's often cheaper for sellers to make the repairs or replacements on their own ahead of listing than at the negotiation table. At closing, buyer may want to have their own licensed contractor do the necessary work which may be more costly to the seller.

Leslie Piper, consumer housing specialist for Realtor.com, says it could behoove some sellers to consider getting a pest and roof inspection before a home hits the market. "The costs of repairs or the replacement of a roof can vary and could be a big-ticket item a seller may want to be aware of before they choose the price they are hoping to get for their home," says Piper. "Having these inspections can be beneficial for a successful home sale, and also beneficial for a seller's future budgeting plans."

Not every situation will call for an upfront home inspection, say experts. For instance, if the home is very new or located in a competitive real estate market, a pre-sale inspection may be a waste of money. "A lot of times, if there are seven or eight bids on a given house, the home inspection is negotiated out," says Ed Berenbaum, CEO of Century 21 Redwood in Washington, D.C. Even if an inspection is done in a not-so-hot real estate market, it may turn out that the seller will take the house as is, and not require the buyer to make any repairs, he says.

Sellers can often get a reduced price on an inspection or opt for an abbreviated check without a full report through an agent's connections. "Absent a report a home inspector might do it for half the price," says Berenbaum. "Home inspectors get the bulk of their business from real estate agents so they may be willing to do it at reduced rates to foster the relationship."

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Home Inspection Horrors
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Home Inspections for Sellers: Why It Can Be Worth It

I'm not a fan of this setup.  

David Grudzinski

Advantage Home Inspections

Cranston, R.I.

This is truly a ‘hot seat.’ Notice that there is a fuse panel, a breaker panel and an outlet (not GFCI-protected) within easy reach.

Mike Steinle

HomeCheck Pro LLC

Knoxville, Tenn.

Not just any old shoe will do.  This one was carefully fit to its application. Why bother properly sealing the abandoned vent when this shoe fits so well?

Charles H. Nance

CHN Inspections LLC

Wildwood, Mo.

Whose cable TV belongs to whom?

Mark Lozeron

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Apparently, the homeowner didn’t want to mess with all that high-tech gadgetry in a humidifier, so he replaced it with a Cool Whip container filled with water!

Brian Mishler

HomeStudy Inc.

Latrobe, Penn.

This takes window air conditioners to the next level, the door fan.

David Rose

Astute Home Inspections LLC

Millburn, N.J.

It works, you just have go fast enough.

Max Curtis


Livermore, Calif.

The plumbing under a kitchen sink. The ‘extra’ supply lines and the flexible drain line are to a clothes washer in another room.  The angled line under the left basin is an open hot water line. It disappears into a wall. Note the S trap and exposed wiring. 

Randy West

Professional Building Consultants

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This should keep the guests from overstaying their welcome. Notice the toothbrushes and drink cups in the holders next to the far sink.

David Maudlin

Indy Pro Inspection Service Inc.

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Not the safest place to dry off.

Bill Loden

Insight Building Inspection

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Window treatment stays with the house.

Nate Stitzlein

Crow Home Inspection LLC

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This photo shows water shooting out of a place where it doesn’t belong. This might be the best ‘action’ photo I’ve ever taken. I don’t think it needs any explanation.

Reuben Saltzman

Structure Tech Home Inspections

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The concept got a bit confused here. 

David Grudzinski

Advantage Home Inspections

Cranston, R.I.

“Handyman” wiring! And yes, those leads were hot.

Greg H. Mathias

Catmando Real Estate Services Inc.

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Some people just should not be permitted to shop at the big-box hardware stores.

Matthew Steger

WIN Home Inspection

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