rickphillipsAre you thinking about putting your house on the market? If so, the vast majority of housing experts would strongly recommend that you prepare your house to sell and put it in “Selling Condition”. Besides the basic improvements you can do yourself, like removing clutter and in-depth cleaning, real estate experts say you should identify each task that need to be done by professional contractors.

Too many owners are lulled into thinking they don’t need to change anything before selling. They don’t want to spend the money, procrastinate, or just don’t realize all the work that should or needs to be done prior to putting their house on the market. Even those who have limited financial means need to do whatever they can.

It is estimated that currently only about 10% of homes entering the market have had all the repairs and improvements necessary to maximize their selling potential. Yet even small defects can hamper a good sale. Whether it’s a little peeling paint, a leaky faucet or a malfunctioning doorbell…buyers see these little issues and assume your place is in bad shape overall.

Today’s savvy buyers now hire home inspectors who will discover unresolved problems, making this an even more critical issue. Suppose the inspector finds out your roof is shot. Chances are good your buyers won’t even ask you to replace the roof. They could and in many cases will just walk away from the deal and never look back and buy another house where repair issues don’t exist or have already been addressed.

Can you count on your listing agent to highlight all the work your house needs before it goes on the market? Not necessarily as many agents fear that if they’re frank about a home’s problems they take a chance that the homeowner will not use them to list the house. A seller should only deal with an agent who is up front with them on all issues good & bad and not one who tells them what they want to hear.

Also you can’t count on an agent to catch hard-to-identify problems, such as major plumbing problems, electrical deficiencies, issues in the crawl space or attic, and more.

Any good real estate agent should recommend that all prospective home sellers’ line up a “pre-inspection” of their place before the For Sale sign goes up. It’s far better for you to discover the problem, like a faulty air-conditioning unit, before potential buyers do. Whether your issues are small or large, you don’t want to give potential buyers reasons to question the integrity of your house. That’s like going in for a job interview with a ketchup stain on your shirt and expecting the employer to hire you.

To locate a reputable home inspector it is recommended that you call the inspector who checked your house before you bought it. You can go to the American Society of Home Inspectors (www.ashi.org) or another very good source of finding a home inspector is through a local real estate agent.

Create a list of prospective contractors to do your work

Many people find locating dependable contractors who do good work at a fair price very difficult. It’s probably not a good idea using the Yellow Pages or online advertising for this purpose. A more reliable approach to finding a reliable contractor is to seek out recommendations from friends or office colleagues who’ve had work done on their homes. Besides those in your immediate circle it is also recommended that you request contractors’ names through local real estate agents as they work with many contractors on a regular basis.

For any major single work issue costing more than $1,000 you may want to consider getting a second bid or estimate for the work to be completed. Two or more bids would be recommended for any single repair costing over $5,000.

Once you have all your estimates lined up you can review each from low to high. You may be tempted to go for the low bidder but beware as their work may be subpar. You also need to be careful of the high bidder because higher price doesn’t always mean better work. One way to pick the right contractor is to get references and ask to see some of his work before you sign on. If a contractor isn’t willing to give references you can call or visit, you’ve got to wonder what they may be hiding.

Bottom line results of having or not having a pre-listing Home Inspection

The biggest reason of all in having a home inspection and dealing with the repair issues is that in the end you most likely will save money and unnecessary grief. On the other hand if you don’t have a pre-listing home inspection and didn’t address the repair issues I can assure you issues will arise once a buyer signs a contract for your house and you have accepted it. In today’s market it is very typical for buyer’s to low ball the price a seller is asking for their house. The majority of seller’s in todays’ real estate market are selling their houses for less than they anticipated.

Next comes something you didn’t expect. The buyer’s Home Inspection reveals a list of repair issues and cost you didn’t see coming. The buyers are now asking you to either make the repairs listed in the Home Inspection Report or give them a credit at closing for an amount they have determined it will cost to make said repairs. In my personal dealings it is very typical for these cost issues to range usually not less than $1,000 and in most cases not more than $3,000 depending on the age of the house. I have had a few house sales where the repair issues ran from $5,000 to $10,000 and as high as $15,000. This of course is a major shock to the seller’s as they didn’t expect to come down another $2,000 to $5,000 or more from the price they already accepted. You, of course, have the right to say no to the buyers request to make the repairs or their request for you to give them a cash credit amount off the original accepted price. The buyer in turn can and usually does say if you don’t agree to the repairs or credit they won’t buy the house. In most cases these two items are further negotiated between buyer and seller but in the end the seller is usually the one who does most of the giving.

In the end you’ve already negotiated the sale price once and now the buyer is asking you to pay for the repairs noted in the Home Inspection Report and in a sense is asking you to reduce it again. Almost every time I get cost estimates for repair issues in a Home Inspection Report from a buyer the requested cost to make said repairs are far greater than what it actually cost to have the repairs made. If you would have had a pre-listing Home Inspection in the beginning you would have known about any repair issues and could have had them taken care of by yourself as well as knowing the real cost to make the repairs in advance of accepting any offers. Having this potential cost information upfront could be taken into consideration when coming up with a price to list your house and more importantly when you negotiate the final sale price with a future buyer.

It cannot be said enough times that I believe it is in the best interest of all seller’s to have a pre-listing Home Inspection done on their home. It will eliminate many of the potential surprises that will cost seller’s money and grief and, in my opinion, net more cash at the closing table for the seller’s as well.

One last thought

Put yourself in the position of any potential buyer…if you were in the market to buy a house today would the one that you currently own and live in (In its current condition) make the cut amongst the others that you would consider buying????? If the answer is yes you have nothing to do. On the other hand if the answer is no please do yourself a favor and get a home inspection done on your property and have professionals make the necessary repairs.

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