Selling Your House? Better Prepare for the Home Inspection

March 18, 2019

I’ve brought you an offer on your home for sale—congratulations! But before you pop the cork on the champagne, you’ve got to go through an ordeal that could make or break that sweet deal: a home inspection.

The home inspection is a condition written into most offers, meaning that if the buyers aren’t happy with the result of the inspection, they can cancel the sale without question, or they can restart negotiations all over again and possibly even ask for a price reduction.

So it’s important to prepare yourself and your home for this important step of the process. How? I’m glad you asked! I love helping people through the Real Estate process and I’m happy to help you understand this part of it a little bit better.

Will there always be a home inspection? Probably…

If your buyers are planning to tear down your home and build on the property, you might feel a pang of regret, but at least you won’t need to worry about the quality and condition of your property. These buyers are trying to get the lowest price possible on the entire property and, if they think a clean offer without a condition of inspection will make them an attractive buyer in a competitive market, they may leave it out.

But most families who are planning to live in your home want to know what they’re getting into. They want to know which systems work, and which don’t. They want to know how much money they’ll need to put into their purchase, and which items you are willing to fix or replace to seal the deal.

The results of home inspections can give buyers peace of mind, or become a tool they can use to bargain down the price. In the worst case, people with buyer’s remorse will use results of a home inspection to back out of the deal without penalty.

Sounds scary? Don’t fret just yet. That pre-inspection you did (I always pay for the pre-inspection on my listings by the way) will let you know everything that’s wrong with your home. Armed with that information, you can fix problems before we list your home, adjust the asking price to reflect necessary repairs, or simply have a ready response when the issue comes up again.

Yes…Inspectors will look at EVERYTHING

Here are just some of the areas of the home your inspector is checking, and what a home inspector is looking for:

  • Exterior grounds: Standing water, faulty grading, sick or dying trees and shrubs, crumbling paths and walls
  • Structure: Foundation integrity, rotting or out-of-plumb window and door frames
  • Roof: Defects in shingles, flashing, and fascia; loose and hanging gutters; defects in chimneys and skylights
  • Exterior: Cracks or rot; dents or bowing in vinyl; blistering or flaking paint; adequate clearing between siding and earth
  • Window, doors, trim: Rotting frames, peeling caulk, damaged glass
  • Interior rooms: Water-stained ceilings, adequate insulation, and sufficient heating vents
  • Kitchen: Proper venting, no leaks under the sink, and cabinet doors and drawers operate properly
  • Bathrooms: Toilets flush properly, showers spray, and tubs are securely fastened
  • Plumbing: Drains flow properly; water has proper temperature and pressure
  • Electrical: Proper electrical panels and working light switches and outlets

How can you prepare?

The home inspection isn’t a test that you need to study for. But there are some things you can do before a home inspection to make the process go more smoothly.

  • Clean and de-clutter your home: Yes, inspectors will look way beyond the superficial sparkle of a clean home. But you want to make sure they have easy access to attics, basements, and electrical panels—and aren’t tripping over your kids’ toys while trying to do their job. Think of it as an early start to your packing.
  • Get your paperwork together: You should create a file with documentation of all maintenance and repairs you’ve done on your home. If you’ve had an insurance claim on your house, keep those papers together, too, so you can prove that you took care of the problem.
  • Provide complete access to your home: Make sure you unlock gates and doors to a shed or garage that doesn’t have lockbox access.

Do yourself a favor, and leave

Unless you’re a glutton for punishment (please don’t be), just grab your keys, and make plans for 3 hours (yes, 3 hours, sometimes it takes that long). Pick a nice restaurant, make plans with a few friends or go to a movie. Just make sure to be out of the house BEFORE the home inspector shows up. You’ll be a little nervous and your anxiety will only make everyone uncomfortable, which isn’t a productive atmosphere during an inspection.

Inspectors and buyers are not at all comfortable with the seller being present during an inspection. They need to be able to freely inspect and discuss, with the buyer, everything they come across. You may think you are being helpful by being present, but you are not. Also, don’t play an eager host. You don’t need to set out cookies and drinks or provide ladders and other tools the inspector needs. He or she will bring their own.

Check your ego at your own door

Understand something: this is NOT personal. Buying and selling a house is a competition and your home is the finish line. Sellers want to get the highest price, but buyers want the lowest. Again, it’s not personal—it’s business. Please remember this when the home inspector provides a list of problems with your home as long as your arm. A home inspector’s job is to point out each and every deficiency and safety violation they see. Disagreeing with the buyers about an inspector’s findings is futile.

Keep your head in the game, and solve the problem with the buyer.

This may mean agreeing to fix an item, it may mean reducing your agreed-upon sold price toward a repair, or it may simply be providing documentation. This is where I come in. I’ve been through this exact situation many times and I know how to interpret inspection reports; which issues are genuine, and which are red herrings designed to reopen price negotiations. I know precisely how to help you in this stressful situation.

Ultimately, after working with me and having your home pre-inspected by my professional team, you will already be prepared to face down or even eliminate these concerns before they even happen. My goal is to help make this transaction as stress free as possible.

If you are thinking about moving, this year, next year or anytime in the future, contact me and I promise you, you’ll see what it’s like to work with a true professional. You can reach me through my website, www.stephenmcdermott.com.

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