Today, Charlie Buell wrote a post that advocates the value of pre-listing-inspections. While Charlie readily admits, or at least begins to admit, and then has a convenient case of amnesia, it's a fairly self-serving stance... although I don't think that Charlie intends it that way. He's really looking out for the well being of both sides.
That's just the kind of guy Charlie is.
There are a few who've taken issue with Charlie's stance, some of them at high-volume... (including she-who-says-"HA"), and I was going to begin the same... when I decided that it might make a better post on it's own.
I'm not advocating the head-in-the-sand philosophy that Charles mentions... rather watching out for the seller's own good.
Let's start with the premise that not every inspector is Charlie Buell, in fact I think we can agree that very few out there live up to his standards, unfortunately. And for every Charlie Buell out there, there are a couple hundred that strive for his quality, but fall short. Let's call them "strivers". And for every striver our there, there are a couple thousand who don't even "strive", they're just phoning it in. Let's call them "phoneys".
The Charlies, the Strivers and the Phoneys all come from different backgrounds and different specialties. Some of them were general contractors, others were electricians, or plumbers, or carpenters. They each focus on different aspects of the inspection, and while many of the things they find will overlap, I think we can agree that some of them will find unique problems and issues that some of the others might not notice, or might not think are a problem.
So... my client (let's call him "Seller")... spends a somewhere around $500.00 to have a pre-inspection done by a Mr. Buell wannabee. The pre-inspector finds seven issues that he feels need addressing prior to listing the property. They include things like, a crack in the foundation, a handful of double-taps in the electric panel, a garage-door opener sensor that isn't tripping, and a missing GFCI on the whirlpool tub. So the Seller spends about two-thousand dollars fixing the seven issues and feels pretty good about the product he's placing on the market.
We're very fortunate, and along comes Mr. and Mrs. Buyer, and we get an accepted offer. They bring Mr. Striver to the inspection, and he notes a few new inspection items found ... including Mold in the attic, the electrical panel has some out-of-code aluminum wiring and the box isn't properly grounded, and while in there he comments... "and it appears that you have a GFCI circuit breaker in here for the whirlpool tub in the master suite, but I'm not sure why they have one, since the tub is plugged directly into a GFCI.
So, what's happened here? The two inspectors found different things of importance. Might Mr. Striver have found all of the same things that Mr. Buell Wannabee found? Maybe. But in this case, my client spent a lot of money, and thought he was done... and instead the second inspector has found more... and my seller feels kinda cheated.
And I get to have the conversation with the seller about "Hey, I've already spend about $2,500.00 on items at your recommendation... and now there's MORE?"
And personally, I feel that it's a good idea to leave some things for the inspector to find. If the house appears too clean, with too few infractions, it's my own personal feeling that the inspector may keep looking until they find something so that they can demonstrate their value to the buyer... it's just human nature to want to show your worth.
I surely won't talk a seller out of conducting an informational pre-inspection... but I'm also not going to recommend one. Less'n one of you rainers can convince me of their value. I'm not saying that I'm right, and Charlie's wrong... just two different approaches to the same thing. There's no question that he's right that it's awful when a deal falls apart due to an inspection issue that should have been apparent to the seller (and possibly the agent) before listing.
But personally, rather than advise spending money on a pre-inspection, I'd rather advise my sellers to anticipate that the inspection might bring up a few issues... almost every home has SOMEthing that will tweak an inspector's spider-sense... and that they should be prepared, emotionally and financially, to address them when they arise.