Top Home Inspection Tips for Sellers
You may know your property inside out, but potential buyers want a third-party opinion on the state of your property and what repairs they might have to make after purchasing.
Home inspections are a necessary burden of selling your home. No one wants strangers poking and prodding around their house, but after the inspection process, sellers may be able to justify a higher sales price.
Even though real estate assets appreciate, a property’s physical structure naturally deteriorates over time and needs significant upkeep. Not all problems that arise will be obvious, like a burst pipe or deep crack in the driveway. Often, the wear and tear on a home’s inner workings aren’t visible to the naked eye.
Inspections can uncover surprises even if you’ve stayed on top of your routine home maintenance schedule. As a homeowner, the inspection process can be a daunting one. That’s why our experts in the field provided a list of top home inspection tips to help sellers be prepared mentally and logistically for this step on the road to closing the sale.
Tip #1: Lean on your real estate agent to help you navigate home inspection preparations and negotiations.
Once you’ve accepted an offer on your house, the buyers of the home will schedule the home inspection within about a 10-day time frame. Depending on how many times you’ve sold a house before, you may not have any experience preparing for the home inspection process and the negotiations that go along with it. This is the way an experienced real estate agent can be essential.
Your real estate agent should help you:
- Understand the different types of home maintenance problems that are common in your area, whether it’s improper electrical wiring in a neighborhood of historic homes or pest issues in warmer climates.
- Have a game plan for any repair requests, whether that’s hiring contractors to fix issues yourself or offer repair credits if problems do arise down the line.
- Gauge your real estate market to determine how much leverage you have as the homeowner depending on if you’re in a buyer’s market or seller’s market, and how interested prospective buyers will be to purchase your property.
- Help you differentiate between major and minor inspection findings and what is grounds for negotiations (cosmetic repairs versus problems that pose a health or safety threat).
Rushing the home inspector doesn’t do you any favors. You should expect that the process will take a minimum of two hours for an average home, with a general rule of one hour per 1,000 square feet. The inspection may last longer if your home is older or has more features to inspect such as a pool, shed attic, or crawl space.
The buyer and the buyer’s agent are typically at the house during the inspection, but in most cases, the seller should leave. Your agent should communicate with the buyer’s agent about scheduling. If possible, try to arrange for the appointment to be while you’re at work or at a time when everyone will be out of the house for a few hours. If you want to be present during the inspection, talk to your agent about whether or not it’s a good idea. Keep in mind that sellers being present at the time of inspection can make the buyer uncomfortable.
Tip #3: Remove all your pets from the home during the inspection.
Make sure that all pets are out of the house during the time of the home inspection. The inspector needs the space to do the most thorough job possible. Putting pets in a kennel or bedroom and closing the door isn’t enough… they need to be completely out of the house during the inspection.
Tip #4: Ensure the house is in fully operational condition for the inspection.
Make sure that all utilities including gas, water, and electricity are on, and provide the remote controls for any associated equipment such as lights or ceiling fans. This is especially important when you’re selling a vacant home or if you’ve already moved out of the property. The inspector will want to make sure that all appliances function properly and the utilities must be on for them to check. All this makes it much easier for the inspector to do their job as fast and thoroughly as possible.
Tip #5: Clean up and give the inspector clear access to the necessary areas.
Inspectors need to be able to reach what we call readily accessible areas. Often, home inspectors have limited access to important spaces, like basement walls when they are blocked by stored items and stacked boxes; other times clutter makes it impossible for inspectors to reach the home’s foundation.
No matter the situation, if your home is cluttered and it makes it hard for inspectors to do their job, that’s not going to reflect well in their home inspection report.
Tip #6: Know the types of things home inspectors look for and be prepared for a list of issues you weren’t expecting.
Home inspection reports, which document the home inspector’s findings, are long and detailed and will likely make you feel like your house is falling apart. In reality, many of the things on the report won’t be worth stressing about, like dust or cobwebs. The major items that pose a safety or health issue or constitute a building code violation, are the things you need to be prepared to remedy (whether that’s by fixing them yourself or negotiating that into the agreement).
Here are some things home inspectors look for during the home inspection:
- Damage to the roof
- Plumbing issues whether it be corroded or leaking pipes
- HVAC age and functionality
- Signs of water damage
- Issues that threaten the home’s structural integrity
- Problems with the home’s electrical system such as faulty wiring
Tip #7: Consider the pros and cons of a pre-inspection.
A pre-inspection is a home inspection arranged for by the seller before listing the house for sale. The pre-inspection allows the seller to correct issues that would come up in the buyer’s inspection at closing, giving the buyer more power during negotiations.
Nevertheless, some drawbacks come along with a pre-inspection. First, they can uncover a list of problems and possibly cause you to spend money on things buyers would have let go. It’s important to know that if you do get a pre-inspection, you are legally required to share the results with your buyer’s agent.
Different inspectors may have different results, and that can be an issue for you. One inspector may find things that another inspector might not and the remedies offered are also not standard. There’s no way to tell if your pre-inspection will uncover the same things as an inspection later down the road, or if it will uncover more issues than a later inspection might find.
If you do decide on a pre-inspection, make sure you leave out a copy during open houses so that buyers can see you’ve done your due diligence in finding issues. Also, only do a pre-inspection if you’re willing to fix what an inspector finds, you don’t want to uncover issues only to place them in a buyer’s lap.
The cost of a pre-inspection is also covered by a seller, whereas the buyer’s inspection is the responsibility of the buyer. The national average cost of a home inspection is $315, though fees can range depending on the home’s location and size, among other factors.
Tip #8: Understand how prior remodeling may affect the inspection.
Unfortunately, not everything that is revealed during a pre-inspection is easily fixed. This applies to prior work that has been done on the property.
When these issues arise, even though they are not the fault of the seller, the burden falls on the seller to correct them.
Tip #9: Don’t try to hide known issues.
Seller resistance can be an issue when it comes to finding and fixing potential problems before a home inspection.
Proper maintenance on a home before it even goes on the market is one of the best ways to prevent snags come inspection time. Primary amongst routine maintenance is changing the furnace filter, cleaning gutters, and making sure that the downspouts that come from the gutters extend away from the home.