Local startup offers independent home inspections as a money saving option

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SEATTLE -- The Seattle real estate market is so competitive, you can easily spend thousands on multiple home pre-inspections only to have your offer rejected. So a local company called Homevibe says it has a solution that can reduce the inspection fees by more than half.

Former Microsoft manager Kwaku Sefa-Dedeh and his tech-savvy co-founder, Maxim Soloviev, offer independent pre-inspections to buyers who want to get a general idea of a property's condition.

Homevibe vets and hires the inspectors and offers the final reports online.

"We do one good inspection and we allow lots of different people that are interested in the house to purchase that information for a reduced price," Sefah-Dedeh explained.

The startup gets the word out through local real estate agents, so the agents can give their sellers the option of having their homes pre-inspected prior to listing.

The seller does not pay, and has no say in who does the inspection work, or what the inspectors report back to Homevibe.

Unlike other inspections where the inspectors present their findings to the buyer in a detailed physical report, Sefa-Dedeh says the Homevibe reports are compiled by Homevibe staff, based on the information the inspector's documentation.

The new concept means buyers now have three inspection options: The independent, third party inspection reports start at $125 for a house of around 1,200 square feet.

I told you earlier this month about buyer-participation inspections -- where the buyer and their agent must be on hand during the inspection and take all the notes and photographs for their own report- at an average cost of $250 to $300.

Traditional inspections provide a more extensive and detailed written review packet prepared by the inspector for about $400 on average.

"It's worked out really well for most of our sellers," said local real estate agent Kristen Meyer.

Meyer says while some of her sellers reject the third-party pre-inspection and have no interest in the concept, others see it as a way to address repairs and get their property in top shape.

"If something comes up on the inspection that needs to be addressed, and the sellers do address it, they can comment, provide receipts for the work that was done," Meyer said.

Sefa-Dedeh says some home sellers elect not to look at the reports, but all have the option to view the inspectors' findings and make comments.

"When our report is available, 90 percent of buyers go with it," Sefa-Dedeh said. "Because it's a no-brainer."

Sefa-Dedeh calls it a definite win-win, especially in high-demand locations where buyers can otherwise spend thousands on multiple pre-inspections and still lose out.

After they purchase a home, Sefa- Dedeh says buyers can always proceed with a full-price inspection to gain further insights about conditions they've been made aware of through the independent inspection by Homevibe.

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