Property owners hope to head off trouble and speed sales by hiring their own inspectors.
Michelle & Tony weren’t looking forward to buying a new place to live, imagining a lengthy, complicated and perhaps stressful experience.
“I figured it was going to drag on for months and months,” Michelle said. “But it wasn’t like that at all.”
In fact, it took Michelle and Tony, a total of only 3 1/2 weeks to buy a $500,000 dream home just south of Hobart.
Although a number of factors smoothed the process, Tony says an inspection report commissioned in advance by the sellers played a large part in their decision to buy and helped speed up the sale.
As housing sales continue to be steady – property owners are turning to new strategies.
One tactic increasingly bringing buyers and sellers closer together is a property inspection obtained by the seller before the home is even listed. A seller’s inspection report is not in lieu of one commissioned by the buyer, but it often accomplishes the goal of signalling openness and good faith while at the same time unearthing any unpleasant surprises.
In some cases, a pre-emptive seller’s inspection means repairs, such as leaks or faulty items, will likely be completed in advance on the buyer’s behalf; less pressing matters may be flagged and the asking price adjusted down accordingly. “To me, the report meant they were definitely interested in selling and cared about selling to somebody who was going to be satisfied,” Michelle said. “I felt comfortable that they were thinking of our interests.”
“Now in a competitive market, the seller has to go the extra mile,” For some, the downside means making sure the house is priced right, taking disclosure to the next level – the more they know, the more they legally have to disclose – and offering to fix things.
But on the upside, a vendor or pre-listing inspection that gives buyers a better idea of where they stand and what, if any, additional work is needed, can also help sellers fend off demands for unrealistic price reductions to cover repairs.
With their own report, sellers can choose, for example, to spend a few hundred dollars fixing a plumbing problem that might otherwise mushroom into a claim for more than $1,000 off the price and, in the process, spark further potentially prickly negotiations.
“It definitely makes sense,” says Leon Cupit, a 14-year veteran property inspector and founder of Independent Property Inspectors Network across Australia.
In his own and other licensee’s operations, he’s seen a marked uptake in the number of vendor or pre-listing inspections, perhaps a rise of 10% to 15% in the last year, and believes the ploy is helping sales move faster and more smoothly.
“Most people want to turn the key and walk in,” he says. “They don’t want repairs, and they certainly don’t want surprises. If they know they have to do some work, they can at least prepare for that.”
“They can say to the buyer: ‘We found these problems. But we wanted to make sure we sold the house in the best condition possible. So, we fixed things, here are the receipts and now you don’t need to deal with this.’ “
That approach certainly appealed to Peter & Sue Casbolt. Long-time Hobart residents before moving to Melbourne two years ago, they are in the process of selling a Montrose house they’ve owned as a rental for about five years.
Peter says it was because they had never lived in the property, which is almost 90 years old, that they opted for the vendor inspection. “We wanted to do the due diligence and know the condition of the house before we put it on the market,” he says.
“We didn’t want to get into a contract and have someone do their own report and have a bunch of surprises. We mostly wanted to know that the price we’re asking, $615,000, is a good, fair, solid price. We wanted to have a real clear idea of the condition of the house and do any work that needed doing. We felt that put us in a stronger position.”
The inspection brought to light a number of issues, he says, the main ones being some plumbing and roof work. They have now fixed most things and feel that having the inspection and spending about $7,500 on repairs were good moves.
The Casbolt’s agent, says the feedback from potential buyers to the roughly 20-page vendor inspection report has been very positive.
People assume because the house is old that it must need a lot of work, she says. “But the report shows that it doesn’t. It’s a huge relief for people to know that.”
The end result was we had three competing bidders and the property sold within two weeks and $12,000 over the asking price
I doubt we could have achieved this amazing result without the Vendor Inspection Report. Peter said.