Pre-inspection Peace of Mind

January 1, 2000

The time is right: Real estate brokers and their sales associates need to educate potential listing clients that a pre-inspection of the home may be a necessity in today’s housing market.

With the recent enactment of the Homebuyer Protection Plan by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, condition has become as important as the long-lauded “location, location, location.” Homebuyers who apply for an FHA-insured mortgage can no longer get that funding unless all conditions that don’t comply with FHA minimum property standards are repaired before closing, protecting new homeowners from unsuspected repair costs right after they’ve settled in.

Under the new program, potential homebuyers who intend to use FHA insurance are also required to sign an informational form, written in plain English, that explains that an appraisal is not a home inspection; it advises the buyer to get a home inspection before closing. All those involved in the transaction now know that condition will be a major factor in any home sale.

One way REALTORS® can ensure that they and their clients know the true condition of the home they’re putting on the market is by getting a guaranteed pre-inspection by a professional inspection company. Sales associates and sellers should verify that such a company uses inspectors who carry the proper insurance, including professional liability (errors and omissions), workers’ compensation, and general liability, and are certified by a recognized training and certification program.

With a home pre-inspection, sellers have the opportunity to address any defects an inspector might find and have them repaired before a possible buyer even sees the house. That gives the seller and sales associate peace of mind that the property they’re listing has no surprises awaiting them in the contract or in the appraisal for non-HUD homebuyers.

It also eliminates last-minute price negotiating and the possibility that buyers might develop cold feet regarding a sale once their buyer inspection uncovers a needed repair, often bringing into question the whole purchase.

A guaranteed pre-inspection is also an effective selling tool, reassuring buyers that what they see is what they get. It also eliminates the buyer-beware attitude and can speed up negotiations between buyer and seller.

A professional pre-inspection puts a written document in the hands of the buyer, attesting to the reputability of the listing salesperson and the serious intent of the seller. It not only explains any defects that exist but also highlights the assets of the home, pointing out which major systems have recently been updated. And it estimates how long the home’s equipment, structure, and finishes will last--all the more reason to buy the house.

Condition has moved to the top of the list for brokers and sellers, and without a home pre-inspection by a qualified professional, all involved in the transaction are put at risk.

Kenneth Austin is president of HouseMaster, a home inspection franchise with more than 330 offices in the United States and Canada. For more information on pre-inspections, visit

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