Pre-Listing Inspections for Home Sellers: What You Need to Know

Written by Chloe GoodshoreSeptember 26th, 20223 minute read

Jump to section: How it works | How much it costs | When to get one, pros, and cons | Next steps | FAQs

What is a pre-listing inspection?

A pre-listing inspection refers to a home inspection conducted before you put your house up on the market.

Most sellers don’t do a pre-listing inspection because of the out-of-pocket cost. But if you want to know about potential problems before listing your house for sale, a pre-market listing can let you:

  • Predict what a buyer will find in their inspection
  • Do preemptive repairs
  • Adjust the listing price

Inspections vs. appraisals

A home inspection tells you about the condition of your home. A home appraisal tells you how much your home is worth.

» LEARN: What Is a Pre-Listing Appraisal?

How does a pre-listing inspection work?

A pre-listing inspection happens before the house goes on the market and the seller pays for it. Otherwise, it works just like any other home inspection.

You’ll hire a licensed inspector, who will come to your house and look for potential issues with:

Electrical systems
Pest infestations
Visible insulation
Septic tanks
Walls and ceilings
Windows and doors

Most inspectors also let you add on extra inspection services. After the inspection, you’ll get a written report that lists any issues the inspector found.

How much does a pre-listing inspection cost?

The average home inspection costs around $350, but anywhere between $280 and $400 is common.[1]

Should I get a pre-listing inspection?

If you have an older home and don’t know its history, then a pre-listing inspection can be a good way to minimize big surprises when you sell your home. But if you’re selling in a hot market where buyers are waiving inspections anyway, save your money.

Useful findings for selling home
Extra cost
Control over inspection and repairs
Unappealing findings and disclosures
Smoother home selling process
No guarantees

Pros of a pre-listing inspection

✅ Useful information to help you sell

You can attract buyers by including in your listing that, for example:

  • The home inspection came back problem-free
  • You already completed repairs to address any problems

✅ More control than a typical inspection

Following a standard buyer’s inspection, the buyer has a lot more input in negotiating next steps, whether that's any repairs for you to do or a new purchase offer. With a pre-listing inspection, you can make repairs on your terms or price the house accordingly.

✅ Smoother selling process

Letting buyers know about issues up front can give them confidence in making an offer. You’ll have fewer buyers back out or try to renegotiate terms because you won’t be blindsided by a later inspection. In a hot selling market, some buyers may even waive their own inspection altogether.

Cons of a pre-listing inspection

❌ Out-of-pocket costs

Routine inspections are generally a home buyer closing cost, meaning you don’t pay for them. Pre-listing inspections come out of your own pocket.

❌ Risk of an unattractive listing early on

Most states have laws requiring you to disclose problems with a home as you learn of them. Those issues will be shared eventually — However, advertising that information in your listing could alienate buyers before they've even seen it.

❌ No guarantees against surprises

A buyer may still order their own inspection done, which could show issues that didn’t show up during your inspection.

Next steps: Ready to sell your house?

A good real estate agent can help you decide if a pre-listing inspection is a good idea for you. They’ll know about current market conditions, and they can give you advice based on your situation and your house.

So before your house hits the market, ask your agent about pre-listing inspections, pre-listing appraisals, and other activities that might help your house sell.

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FAQs about pre-listing inspections

A pre-market (or pre-listing) inspection is a home inspection performed before a seller lists their house for sale.

Yes, home buyers can renegotiate their offer on a house if an inspection shows problems.