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The trust attorney says, “You want to inspect the property before listing the client’s estate for sale? We’d rather not. We don’t want responsibility for what might be found.”

But for me, pre-listing inspections are a best practice for trust administration sales. Here are my top 5 reasons to inspect first:

  • Shows forethought and planning – tells the buyer the trustee is organized and deliberate in approaching the sale
  • Signifies it’s not a distressed sale – a professional presentation shows that the estate is not desperate and expects to do well
  • Eliminates on-the-fence buyers – knowing the true condition of the home helps rule out buyers who are not equipped to take it on
  • Garners meaningful offers – lessens or eliminates the need for inspection contingencies, so the seller gets cleaner, more significant bids and a faster close
  • Avoids the emotional rollercoaster – shields the trustee and family from nasty surprises mid-escrow, such as price renegotiation or a failed transaction because of late-stage revelations

As-is doesn’t mean undesirable
For these trust homes, I always recommend a quick resurfacing. My team paints and makes cosmetic fixes to please the eye, but no structural repairs or anything that requires a permit.

Even so, most of these homes are considered as-is sales. The as-is addendum to the contract removes only the seller’s obligation to remedy deficiencies.

So if we do inspections the traditional way, during the escrow period, finding deficiencies will prompt the buyer to ask for credits, a lower price or wish to cancel the contract.

Inspection contingencies expire 15 days into a 30-day escrow period. Who wants to start over at that point?

Mysterious properties are a tough sell
I do a full 90% of my negotiating up front, based on complete disclosure and the terms of the listing.

Through the magic of inspections, I erase the as-is mysteries and risks that hold a buyer back. They gain the ability to quickly, confidently say yes, and the estate gets the highest return on their asset.

A sale with no inspection contingencies
For a Marin County trust home I listed not long ago, the attorney balked at having the estate pay for the pest and contractor inspections. I presented my case, and we ultimately went ahead and did them.

No one was sorry.

The offer we received on the home was $141,000 over the asking price. With no inspection contingencies. The trustees accepted the offer and were very pleased. Because of that success, the estate asked me and my team to upgrade and sell a property in San Mateo County.

Escrow is not the time for surprises
Helping the attorney and trustee avoid an unexpected bombshell is at the top of my list. Pre-inspections are a great place to start. After all, when you receive an offer softened by 5 inspection contingencies, is it really an offer?