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Unlike much of California, in Silicon Valley most of the time sellers order and pay for presale inspections.  At the very minimum, most do the pest or termite report, but many also provide a home inspection report, a roof, chimney, or other component (such as pool) too.

It used to be that buyers would see a property, then, if they liked it, look at the binder full of inspections, disclosures and other reports at the property. Or perhaps their agent would have to drive over to the listing agent’s office, get a copy of the inspections, then unstaple and photocopy the stack of documents so that everyone got a copy.

No more.  Now, it’s all online. At least it is 99% of the time.

Although there are a few holdouts who refuse to put disclosures into an electronic format (we’ll discuss that later), most now use some sort of electronic method of sharing this information. Some agents email the reports but most use some sort of transaction management software, such as Transaction Point, Setttlement Room, DropBox or some other system for sharing files and tracking who access what, when, and so on.

With this shift, buyers are now sometimes viewing reports and disclosures before they even see the property.  Too many termite issues? Forget it – they won’t even view the house!  Clean pest and home inspection, let’s hurry to see it!  What, additions and remodels without permits and finals? No way, skip this house…..  Decisions are made based not on how your house looks in person, but how it looks in terms of documentation!

What does this mean to you as a seller?

In a nutshell, it’s more important than ever that your disclosures, inspections and reports look “worry free”.  It’s extremely important that you address concerns upfront. Got water damage? Take care of it – and disclose it and explain that it’s fixed.  Buyers don’t want your deferred maintenance, they want a house which is truly turn key!  If you don’t, most buyers will not ever cross your threshold, won’t fall in love with your house at all. This is shifting from an emotional decision to a business decision. To maximize the sale of your property, you need to understand this and act on it.

What about agents who keep the disclosures offline?  When I have asked some of the “old timers” why they do this, most don’t provide a compelling reason which has their clients’ best interests at heart.  One top 1% agent in Saratoga told me that she didn’t want agents from out of the area  to have it too easy – she wanted them to have to exert themselves to get the paperwork.  In other words, if you were not in the 95070 zip code, or really near by, maybe you would just skip this house.  Is that what the seller wants???? I don’t think so. The seller doesn’t care if the agent with the best offer is in Saratoga, Los Gatos, San Jose, or in San Mateo or Berkeley, for that matter.  The seller wants the best price and terms, period.  Xenophobia is not part of the seller’s baggage, but the agent’s.  My advice: don’t do it.  Get with the program, get online.

Think of it like this: when a home has few or no photos, what do buyers think?  Frankly, they think the house must be a dog of a property. Must be terrible.  We are allowed 25 photos in our mls now, so if there are few images showing, whatever isn’t seen is perceived to be bad. So too with disclosures. If you don’t have them online and readily accessible (i.e., if yo aren’t transparent), there must be something wrong.

Change can be hard, but if you want to maximize the amount you sell your house for, it’s imperative that you keep current, and make sure that your agent does, too.