Pre-Offer Home Inspections – A GREAT Idea

Every real estate market is different; this one has brought more pre-offer inspections than I have ever seen (in part because I’m more comfortable suggesting them to my buyer clients).

1 – Allows for an As-Is Sale

2 – Removes one phase of negotiations from the process.

3 – Allows for fewer emotions clogging the negotiating process. The home inspection negotiation is often the most emotional, vindictive, painful and difficult periods of the negotiation; a pre-offer inspection removes phase.

4 – It’s cleaner, procedurally.


– Even in this market, homes are selling; some are selling with multiple offers and buyers can lose properties if they opt for the pre-offer inspection path

– Some sellers don’t want to allow these; they want assurances that a buyer is really committed before allowing a home inspection.

As with every question and answer in real estate, whether a pre-offer inspection is right for you is situationally dependent. One must evaluate all factors involved, some of which are the buyers, the sellers, the buyers’ agent, the sellers’ agent, the respective companies, the days on market, market activity to name a few …



Hey, Jim Duncan with Nest Realty and here in Charlottesville, Virginia talking about pre-offer inspections. I’ve done several pre-offer home inspections, (or I’ve attended, I don’t do them) several times in this market and I think that it’s actually a really, really good thing.

The slower market allows for this sort of luxury from a buyer’s standpoint, but also from a seller’s aspect, it makes the transaction potentially much smoother. The buyer has the home inspection, determines what the home is worth to them, ascertains the repairs, conditions, etc. and makes, frequently, an offer where it lays out what their expectations are from a price or repair standpoint and just removes one realm of negotiations from the equation and that’s a really, really good thing because in my experience, I’ve found that the home inspection negotiating phase is actually a second tier negotiation and often times can be the most emotional, the most divisive and the most horrible part of the negotiations because this toilet has been leaking for four years and we’ve always lived with it. How dare these buyers come in and expect something different. Have a pre-offer inspection works out in everybody’s interest.

Now if and when the market turns to where time is not a luxury that we all have, I might have a different opinion on it, but right now, if the market is where it is, I think that it’s certainly a wise thing to consider, to have for a buyer to contract to have a pre-offer home inspection.

Any questions, give me a call anytime. My name is Jim Duncan in Charlottesville, Virginia, (434) 242-7140, other words:


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  1. Derek Massey April 6, 2011 at 17:03

    Interesting, Jim. The attorney in me would love to see more of this “stuff” being done as early as possible. Wouldn’t it be nice if…

    – A title search was done in advance, thus avoiding last-minute title clearing issues?
    – The lender’s final figures were calculated WITH a GFE?
    – The inspection was done pre-offer so the buyer knew exactly what they were offering on?
    – All settlement documents were available – online – a week before settlement?

    ~I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray…~

    1. Jim Duncan April 6, 2011 at 17:43

      I like your dreams Derek. They’re clearly crazy and somewhat delusional, but I still like them.

  2. Joe April 6, 2011 at 18:34

    I have to disagree with you on this one, Jim. I never advise buyer clients to inspect before an offer as they may wind up paying for inspections of several properties before knowing if they can reach an agreement with an owner on price and terms. That can get costly. Actually, I believe a much better practice would be if the owner has an inspection by a reputable home inspector prior to listing the property. It could be provided to each prospective buyer especially after the seller made whatever reasonable repairs the inspection reveald. Home inspectors usually are glad to update their inspections for buyers for a small fee. This makes much more sense to me for both seller and buyer.

    1. Anonymous April 8, 2011 at 17:28

      Joe, I understand that line of thinking – a buyer could conceivably shell out hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. But putting yourself in a buyers’ shoes for a moment, would you look at a pre-sale inspection ordered by the Seller as valid? As a buyer, you’re looking for problems in a home. You just know that there’s a problem with the septic system, or that big piece of furniture placed haphazardly in the room is hiding something. There’s enough of an incentive there for the Seller to skim over flaws or deficiencies that a pre-sale inspection initiated by the Seller could be looked at by a buyer with very cynical eye.

      What Jim’s proposing is interesting. It could affect negotiations, sure, particularly if the agent doesn’t do a good job of setting expectations up front as to the purpose of the pre-sale inspection. But I like the thought … think I’m gonna comb through my pipeline and see who I think might be interested in giving this a shot soon.

  3. Jeff Edmisten April 9, 2011 at 14:09

    For what it is worth Joe, I have had several select sellers do a pre-listing home inspection.

    To Jeremy: To date, out of probably a dozen of those pre-listing home inspections, I have only had one buyer do their own inspection. So far, the buyers have actually liked the fact that the seller saved them around $350.00. BUT, this is probably the big caveat, the sellers have always used a very well known and respected home inspector in our area.

    While representing a buyer, I would never suggest my buyers rely on a seller’s home inspection… if my clients asked my opinion of the home inspector, they would get a very solid review.

    I think both ways have their pros and cons, and as Jim said, it is very situational dependent. Good topic Jim.

  4. Joe April 9, 2011 at 14:27

    All great comments. I guess it may depend on your market and the home inspectors in it. My comment took into consideration my small market where everyone knows everyone else. There are only a few home inspectors and we all use them so typically a seller having the home inspected prior to listing will probably use one of the inspectors we all know and trust. .


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