prelisting inspections help calm fears and entice serious buyers

The market is shifting, and the data doesn’t lie; 34.5% of active orange county listings have had price reductions, and 31.1% for L.A. county as of august 2022). Gone are the days when a seller could expect 20-50 offers above asking and tell a buyer to pound sand unless they waive X, Y, and Z. The number of offers has gone down, and more and more sellers are being hit with requests for repairs, and if you haven’t yet, they’re coming. So how are our most successful agents staying ahead of the curve in such a rapidly changing southern California real estate market? They are utilizing pre-listing inspections prior to bringing their listing to market and leveraging the information gained from that report to help them sell it faster and for more money.

Repair verification inspections as part of a buyers due diligence


I’m going to let you in on their secret and help you leverage this tactic to benefit you.

Before you put your listing on the market, have a pre-listing inspection performed by a certified home inspector in the same manner that a buyer’s inspector would, this will allow you to get ahead of any potential deal-killing discoveries. Even if something big is discovered, you now have the time to deal with it effectively without the huge stress of being in escrow and under a tight timeline. Once you have addressed any concerns, you can now confidently list your property and price it accurately, knowing all “red flags” have been taken care of. It may be a small investment upfront, but you are potentially saving yourself and your seller thousands on the back end. (read this article for more about pre-listing tips)


Pre-listing inspections increase buyer confidence and rule out uncommitted offers

Our top agents have told us they routinely display their pre-listing inspection report along with any proof of repairs at showings and open houses in order to attract only the most serious of offers. It lets buyers understand the condition of the home prior to making an offer and greatly helps reduce buyer fear or trepidation. When an offer is submitted-you know they mean business.

The best way to win a round of negotiation is to not enter it at all.

 We all know there can be multiple rounds of negotiation and points of contention in the escrow process and the best way to win is to remove their leverage to the greatest extent possible (their leverage being surprise findings during the inspection process). Everyone involved already knows the condition of the home and what has already been fixed; what more can they ask of you? In a normal transaction-not a whole lot, really. Congratulations, You’ve just won a round of negotiation without ever really stepping into the ring.


Why do foundations crack?


In our local area, we have a lot of older homes that were built upon a poured concrete raised foundation, and finding foundation cracks is a common occurrence. These older foundations crack primarily because of moisture sitting at the foundation over a long period of time. Most foundation movement is preventable by properly shedding water away from the home with correctly installed gutters and grading the surrounding landscape down and away from the home. But sixty to eighty years ago when they built many of these houses, long-term water management wasn’t an overwhelming concern, and the effects are starting to show.


Foundation cracks



Are all cracks bad?

Not all foundation cracks are a huge red flag or a reason to walk away from an escrow. Cracks that are vertical and thin are generally ok and are surprisingly common to find during a home inspection. Horizontal, diagonal, and diverging cracks are more concerning when it comes to the stability of the structure. When I see large cracks (wide enough o fit a nickel in) or a pattern of deflection, I always recommend contacting a structural engineer to determine if the building is still shifting around or if the damage presents a stability concern.




What to look for

If your home is exhibiting more than one indication of movement, such as: out of square doors, sloped floors, corner cracks in the interior walls, and large cracks in the foundation, I would certainly be looking for assistance. Your home is built upon the foundation, so when your foundation moves-so will the rest of the structure. It’s important to take in the whole picture and piece together the story that the home is showing you to determine the severity of the issue. As the building moves, the structure will undergo periods of stress and look for ways to relieve that stress.  This stress relief commonly shows itself through cracks in various areas of the home. Think of it this way; if you were to slowly bend a graham cracker, for instance, it would eventually break in half to relieve the stress- buildings will do the same thing.





Can foundation cracks be fixed?


Sure, they can. Anything in a home can be fixed. Repairs can range from sealing small foundation cracks to prevent future moisture penetration all the way up to structurally stabilizing large sections of foundation walls with steel straps and bolts. Unfortunately, foundation repairs can get quite expensive, depending on the scope of work. If you are looking for a trustworthy structural engineer or foundation contractor, reach out to your real estate agent or local home inspector, both will have a lot of contacts that could help you out.

ERMI testing is a DNA test method developed by the EPA to determine the relative mold burden of home in the United States. ERMI stands for Environmental Relative Moldiness index. The EPA surveyed 1,079 home across the United States for 36 different types of mold and analyzed the mold burden of those homes with the goal of compiling an index that could be used to help determine the potential moldiness of a home.

When an ERMI test is performed, dust is vacuumed up from the carpet in two different locations and collected in a cartridge. The composite sample is taken to a lab and compared to the data from the bank of surveyed homes and assigned a score that indicates the level of potential moldiness.

How does ERMI testing differ from other methods?

Air sampling and surface sampling methods are currently the industry standard for mold investigations and will reveal the current mold levels in the area tested, think of a snapshot in time.

ERMI testing is significantly different than the other methods of testing used in mold investigations because it reveals the history of mold exposure over time and can be an indicator of past water damage 

Since both testing methods provide different information they can be used in tandem to establish a more comprehensive understanding of the mold activity in a given location.

Putting it all together

Testing is just one tool in the inspectors toolbox.  The visual inspection of the investigation is a huge component of the process. Identifying mold levels is great, but determining the source is the most important part. During a mold investigation the inspector will perform a detailed inspection using infrared cameras and a moisture meter focused on water damage and conditions conducive to mold growth. Putting all the pieces together we can make a determination of the mold levels and probable cause.