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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ignorance is not bliss

Is ignorance really bliss?

I often advise clients to think about having a home inspection done as a part of getting their home ready for market. Most don’t want to pay for that (usually $250-400) and prefer to remain blissfully ignorant of any problems or issues that their home may have. That is a false savings and akin to putting your head in the sand when a treat arises.

The fact is that you don’t want to wait until you have that live buyer on the hook to find out that there is a mold problem in the basement or that your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger that is sending carbon monoxide into the house. What happens when you wait is that some inspector, who may or may not have good people skills with the buyer, will find the problem and then may scare the heck out of your buyer. I’ve seen buyers walk out at the inspection and immediately demand that the deal be terminated, just because a home inspector poorly handled some issue that was easilky remedied.

The other potential benefit of getting a home inspection ahead of the listing is that it can provide you with a list of things that the buyers may ask for and give you time to seek pricing information. If your roof needs replacing soon, a buyer may ask for an allowance. If you know about that as a potential issue ahead, you can get quotes and know what to offer for a concession. The same is true of things like replacing an older furnace or hot water heater. The more you know about things ahead,. The better you can be prepared to negotiate about them later. You can use the quotes that you get as supporting evidence for your concession offer.

There is an argument that some have put forth (sort of the real ignorance is bliss argument) that finding out bad things about your home will mean that you must disclose them. That is true; however, this is another case where you can then be prepared to discuss what you’re doing, or are willing to concede, to fix those problems. If you find mold or radon in your home in an inspection, you need to act on remediation of those problems. You can’t ignore them; but, at least you can get quotes and get the problems fixed at your pace, rather than I the midst of negotiating a sale.

So, bite the bullet and get an inspection done as part of your listing preparation. Take the inspection results and make a “to-do” list from it. Some things you just need to go ahead and get done. Other things you may choose to just get job quotes from 2-3 tradesmen to have for negotiating purposes. You can offer the buyers a copy of your inspection, but most will likely still want their own inspector to look again. Don’t be offended. Be confident that you’re not going to get surprised and that you’re ready to have an informed conversation about any concessions that may be requested, based upon inspection results.

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