The Pre-Listing Home Inspection


The slower real market has spawned a new trend to ease buyers’ anxieties – the pre-listing home inspection.

Sellers can take a proactive approach to the home inspection process and avoid the hassles associated with prolonged negotiations and price adjustments after the sale has been agreed.

A seller-paid home inspection allows time to get a bid on major items so you know what it really costs to sell your home. An ethical home inspector is prohibited from estimating repair costs or giving referrals for repairs. After all the fix-it items are estimated, you can either repair them or disclose and credit the buyer for the repairs.

What does a home inspector do? Home inspectors inspect a home and analyze all of its major components, note items that need repair or explanation, take pictures of components that are not readily visible and verbally present a summary to principals at the conclusion of the home inspection. A written report usually follows the next day by email. The process can take from three to eight hours depending on the size of the home and the complexity of its components. Cost ranges from approximately $300-$500, again depending on the size of the home and its components; a spa, pool, water features and outbuildings add to the basic fee.

Structurally, the home inspector revises the inner and outer areas of a home to include: plumbing, roofs, structural damage, heating systems, electrical wiring and water issues.

• Plumbing is one of the major items of concern to buyers: water pressure, plumbing fixtures, drains, caulking and properly seated toilets will be addressed by the home inspector.

• Roofs are checked for old or deteriorated materials as well as any active or old leaks. The report makes note of the useful life left in the roof and recommends replacement if it is no longer serviceable. Tar and gravel roofs have an approximate lifespan of 15 years; wood shakes average 20-25.

• Structural Damage concerns the overall condition of the main structure. Foundation walls are looked at, floor joists and rafters are of importance as are window and door headers. Older houses are checked for sagging and settlement issues.

• Heating Systems as well as cooling systems are checked for serviceability. Controls are checked, tests are done as to the airflow from ducts, and the integrity of the ducts themselves and outdoor air compressors are checked. The home inspector also checks the chimney, flue, integrity of masonry and will always recommend a “C” clamp be placed on the damper to prevent it from closing all of the way.

• Electrical wiring and all aspects of electrical delivery to the house will be checked including panels, subpanels, GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter which protects you from electrical shock) devices, plugs, outlets, switches, etc.

• Water issues – these are very important items as they tell the present and past condition of the house. Standing water, water in crawl spaces and slope issues where water does not flow away from the house will be noted in the report. Dry rot and fungus found on wood members will generally be referred to a termite inspection.


How To Choose A Home Inspector

California does not have a state law requiring the licensing of home inspectors. Many home inspectors have a state contractor’s license and all should have some sort of credentials for home inspection. The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) is a voluntary, nonprofit public-benefit organization of real estate inspectors. According to its website, “…founded in 1976, CREIA provides education, training and support services to its members and the real estate community. CREIA’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are recognized by the California Business and Professions Codes and are considered the standard of care by the real estate industry and legal profession in the State of California. Nationally, home inspectors can become members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

Daniel Sterling of Sterling Property Inspections, for example, holds advanced designations as a Certified Mold Inspector (CRMI) and membership in the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA). Ask your home inspector what qualifications he has, how long he has been doing inspections and how many has been conducting these. It’s also advisable to ask for a copy of a recent inspection so you can see how detailed it is and how easy it is to read. The statements should be simple to understand and definite in meaning. If every item is noted that a trade specialist should provide further evaluation, get another inspector – this inspector is just covering his behind, and not giving you a definite opinion. If your home has unique upgrades, bring them up to the inspector and make sure he has experience in their use and operation.


Preparing Your Home for The Home Inspection

Rick Yerger, from Building Specs, a well-respected home inspector who has worked for many agents representing luxury homes, suggests that prior to your home inspection, perform your own “virtual inspection.” Note and repair items like peeling paint on the exterior, check for wood contact on any part of the structure and make sure all windows are operative. He further stresses that you check the grading of your property, making sure that water slopes away from your home. On the interior, check plumbing, faucets and fixtures. Check grout and caulking to see if both are in good condition. Make sure GFCI fixtures are operative. Change the filter in your furnace and clean all intake grills.

Take the time to have a pre-listing home inspection and you can alleviate one of the biggest “deal killers” in the home purchasing process. Yes, it costs money … but in the long run it’s money well spent.

You will rest easy by being proactive and your buyer will be reassured that you truly care about the condition of your home.

Don Sheridan

We work with the best local home inspectors, so contact us for a recommendation or visit us at for all of our home maintenance referrals. Don Sheridan at HOM Real Estate Group, can be reached directly at 949.478.7723 or by cell at 949.433.7078.