A very substantial segment of our business in Lamorinda real estate is the listing of homes for sale. Undoubtedly, the number one question that is raised by our clients pertains to what they should do to prepare the home for market. Most of the time, sellers want to discuss the cosmetic preparatory items, but are reticent to discuss evaluation and preparation of the home’s infrastructure… it’s systems, and overall physical condition.
We all recognize that some people are very aware of their home’s maintenance needs and have cared for their home in an exceptional manner. Others have placed their priorities in other areas, and have a considerable amount of deferred maintenance. Some fall somewhere in between. In the latter two situations, we try to encourage clients to have a general home inspection done by a highly-respected professional prior to going on-market. Many sellers are reluctant to spend the money for the inspection because they know that the buyer will pay the cost when they get into escrow.
As pointed out in a recent Wall St. Journal article, buyers will impute about $2-3 of cost to each dollar of actual cost to fix a problem. Knowing, and addressing potential issues in advance can save a seller significant amounts of money in negotiations when they find themselves in a vulnerable position during escrow, learning about an unanticipated problem for the first time. Just as important, sellers will often save substantially more than the $500 or so for a home inspection by being able to address problems on their terms, not on the buyer’s. We believe that knowledge is power, so understanding your home’s condition in advance of having a buyer make unpleasant discoveries can be very empowering and helpful in your negotiations. Peace of mind is worth a lot, too!