Seller's ultimate guide to preparing for a home inspection
Whether you're just thinking about listing your home, already putting it on the market, or have accepted an offer - home inspections can be a daunting part of selling your home.
Next up? The buyers have a due diligence period where they can perform inspections on your property to ensure they are comfortable moving forward with the transaction.
When it comes time for an inspector to step foot on your property, you may be feeling a little apprehensive about what they might find (don't worry, it's completely normal).
But fear not! Everyone (yes, even the inspector) wants the deal to get to the closing table. So while the inspector will find some defects with your home, if there were any serious issues, you'd probably be aware of them by now.
Every home has issues, and your buyers aren't expecting perfection. Instead, they want to ensure they don't have any extensive repairs lurking in their new investment.
While your home may already be in great shape, there are still things you can do to make sure the inspection goes smoothly. Keep reading to see our suggestions on how to prepare for a home inspection as a seller.
Get a pre-listing inspection.
That's right, the best way to prepare for your buyer's inspection is to beat them to the punch. Having your home inspected before it goes on the market allows you to make repairs in advance.
By making suggested repairs that the home inspector notes, you can be more confident that you won't be sweating wondering what an inspection might uncover when it comes time for due diligence.
The transaction will also move along more quickly. If you don't have to stop and make repairs on the home during due diligence, you'll be able to move more quickly to closing. And that's not the only perk; there most likely won't be a need to make concessions and negotiate on the selling price, making you more money in the long run.
Fun fact: On average, buyers negotiate $14,000 worth of repairs off of the purchase price during due diligence. So by getting an inspection first, you're taking the upper hand.
To make your buyers even more confident that your house is "the one," consider adding a product like Inspection Protection when you get a pre-listing inspection. Inspection Protection protects the buyer in case certain structural damage is missed during the inspection. The coverage is for one year and up to $100k. It gives the buyers added peace of mind on their purchase, and they are more likely to waive their inspection.
Take care of minor repairs.
Your home will need a little TLC, but thankfully, you can DIY a lot of those things by taking a trip to your local hardware store and watching a few tutorials. However, if anything feels out of your depth, you should hire a qualified professional to do the work for you.
Here are some common things to check:
- Shingles: Check for nail pops and any loose or missing shingles on your roof. You should also check the flashing, which is a common defect found during home inspections.
- Gutters and downspouts: Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris. It's an easy thing to do and shows that you properly maintain your home. Also, check downspouts and make sure they are present and in the proper position.
- Roof damage: If you notice any damage to your roof or any issues with flashing, you should have that taken care of before the buyer's inspection.
- Hardscaping and decks: Secure any loose bricks or wood on steps, pathways, and decks. This is a safety issue that will be called out in the inspection report.
- Trim: Take a look at the trim on the outside of your home to check for damage as it can lead to more serious issues.
- Vegetation: Do a little landscaping and clear back any overgrown plants or bushes. You want to be sure you have adequate clearing between the house and any vegetation.
- Toilets: Does your toilet run for a long time after you flush? It's an easy and inexpensive repair you can probably take care of yourself.
- Drains: All drains should flow adequately and have the appropriate pressure.
- Water heater: You probably already know if you are having issues with the temperature of your water heater, but you should also check to make sure you have a drip pan installed.
- Appliances: Make sure any appliances coming with the house are in good working order, like the dishwasher, garbage disposal, stove burners, etc.
- Light switches and outlets: Each outlet should have a cover plate and certain outlets should be GFCI. If there are any broken light switches, be sure to get them fixed before the inspection to minimize the concern of electrical issues.
- Insulation: Head up the attic and check for adequate insulation.
- Doors: Check all of the doors in your house, even the ones you rarely use, to confirm they are functioning correctly. All doors should:
- Latch into the frame without issue
- Have doorknobs securely in place
- Locks in working order (especially doors leading outside)
- Windows: Open and close each window to ensure there are no issues.
- Cabinets and drawers: Open and close every cabinet and door as they can loosen over time. You can quickly fix them by tightening the hinges with a screwdriver.
- Garage door: Test the automatic reverse on the garage door and make sure it functions properly.
- Water damage: Look under sinks, around toilets, at the base of tubs and showers, and under appliances to check for leaks. You should also examine the walls and ceiling for signs of warping, sagging, or buckling potentially caused by moisture.
Knock out regular home maintenance tasks
Life is busy, and it's easy to put off some of the basic maintenance requirements of being a homeowner. But now is the time to go around the house and get everything up to date. It's not only a nice thing to do for the new owners, but it also shows that you have taken care of your home over the years.
Here are some things to check, update, or replace before the inspection:
- Light bulbs: To an inspector, a blown bulb means one of two things. Either the bulb is just out, or there is something wrong with the wiring. Replacing blown bulbs is a simple way to keep that from hitting the report.
- Batteries: If there's a smoke detector or carbon monoxide monitor that's missing, been chirping, or has flat-out died, be sure to replace it. Don't forget to check the batteries in remotes for things such as lighting and fans.
- Air filters: If you haven't done so already, put fresh air filters in place. It's essential for the air quality in the home and the overall functioning of the system.
- Electrical panel: Take a look inside the fuse box and replace any labels that are incorrect, difficult to read, or not present.
- Bugs: Is there a line of ants marching around? Wasp nest in the back yard? Take care of any bug problems ahead of the inspection.
Clear the way
You've done everything you can to get your home in tip-top shape for today, and it's time for the inspection. However, there are still a few things to do to ensure the inspection process goes smoothly. And the inspector will greatly appreciate you for doing it!
While getting your house tidied up for listing photos and showings, you probably moved some things out of sight. But to do their job, the inspector needs the entire property to be easily accessible. If the inspector can't get to something, they won't inspect it, which could be a red flag to the buyer. So here’s what to do:
- Clear any clutter hindering access to areas or systems, including:
- Basements or crawlspaces
- Furnace rooms
- Under sinks and inside cabinets
- Any detached building
- Move furniture, curtains, or anything that makes it difficult to get to a window or door.
- Unlock gates, storage rooms, and any secured areas.
- Empty to the dishwasher so it can be easily run to test functionality.
- Provide remote controls or special instructions for any equipment being sold with the home.
- Keep all utilities on and ensure that pilot lights to water heaters, fireplaces, and furnaces are lit.
- Leave! If you can, vacate the property and take your pets with you. If you can't take your pets or leave them with a friend or family for a few hours, make sure they are safely crated during the inspection.
Getting ready to sell your home is an exciting but stressful time. So when you're ready, it's best to start by booking a pre-listing inspection to get a professional opinion on the condition of your home.
Making repairs and taking care of maintenance items in advance will save you in the long run and help make the already complicated real estate transaction a little easier on everyone.
Now, when it's time for the inspection, you will be cool, calm, and collected, knowing you did everything you can to prepare.
Take a deep breath and enjoy your next adventure!