Advantages of Having a Home Inspection Before You List Your House
January 31, 2018
Anybody who owns a house knows it often feels like there’s no end to the maintenance required. This is especially true in an older house, which makes up much of downtown Toronto’s housing stock.
Whether it’s bricks that need repointing or trying to figure out why that one light fixture is constantly flickering, it’s always something – and those are just the things you can see! Most fixes are not urgent when you’re living there (I’ve seen what some people live with in terms of living conditions), but when you’re putting your home on the market, these things have to be taken care of. Homes for sale in Toronto range from the totally gutted and renovated to houses you’d see in a horror film, like this one.
For many years, it’s been common for buyers to conduct a home inspection either before putting in or finalizing an offer. However, since Toronto’s real estate market took off about ten years ago, it’s also become common practice for sellers to do their own inspection called a “pre-list inspection”.
The main reason you should consider having a home inspection completed before you list your property is to prevent any nasty surprises. An inspection will give you a good picture of what’s going on with your home and let you know if there are any necessary repairs that have to be done before putting your house on the market.
Home inspections usually come back with very common concerns or suggestions:
- Fixing drainage around the home
- Water penetration issues
- Minor electrical issues and sometimes major issues like knob and tube wiring
- Minor roof repairs or replacement
You don’t even have to do the repairs if you don’t want to. If you find problems with the foundation in advance of listing, you could get quotes and provide purchasers with that information instead of doing the work; it gives you a chance to handle objections up front.
The other good reason to do a pre-list inspection is so you can provide the report to buyers before they put in an offer. This way, they can decide if the home is in good shape and they can feel confident about making an offer without the condition of a home inspection. In such a vibrant market like Toronto’s where properties move quickly and buyers even quicker, it helps speed the process up so decisions can be made by the buyers with full knowledge of what they are purchasing.
If you receive an offer conditional on a home inspection, the seller has to wait until the inspection has been completed and the buyer has reviewed it, leaving sellers with a big question mark as to whether or not the deal will close. If there are any surprises, the buyer may want to renegotiate the price to take into consideration the repairs that have to be done.
If your house generates enough activity for multiple buyers, having a home inspection at the ready guarantees that you’re not going to get offers conditional upon a home inspection. On offer night your home will be sold, as oppose to waiting while a buyer does their due diligence.
Some buyers are concerned about an inspection done by someone hired by the seller, but while inspectors aren’t regulated, they have a code of ethics and an obligation to paint a fair picture of the home. Another thing to note is that a buyer can also call the home inspector and do a run through on the phone at a greatly reduced cost.
Buyers have to remember that a home inspection isn’t a comprehensive document showing exactly what’s wrong with a property and what may go wrong in the future – it’s a snapshot of what the house looks like on that particular day. There are indicators to tell whether a home has problems, but they’re not always obvious.
One of the most common issues in Toronto is wiring. Old homes in Toronto were built with knob and tube. It’s unlikely that the electrical hasn’t been updated at all, but not all rewiring jobs are the same. I’d like to think an electrician would replace the entire system, but some wiring has been done by amateurs and there could be knob and tube hiding in the walls and ceiling. A home inspector should be able to determine based on the outlets, the type of wiring and the electrical panel if there are issues, but Elon Musk hasn’t perfected his x-ray glasses – the only way to know is to open the walls up, and you can’t do that until the house is yours!
Should you do a home inspection?
If you’re buying a house and the sellers haven’t had one done, I think it’s important for someone to have a home inspection. If somebody is comfortable enough to buy a house without an inspection, go ahead and do it –if you’re getting a home at a super good price and you have a buffer of cash savings, you can remedy whatever comes up after.
Sometimes it’s necessary to take that risk. I’d never recommend against getting a home inspection, but sometimes the situation calls for it – whether it’s a time crunch or multiple offer situation. But, it’s a risk and you have to sign off on it.
If you have any questions about the value of home inspections or anything regarding the Toronto real estate market, please get in touch!