An important step you will need to complete when selling your home is a home inspection. A home inspector will be looking for issues with the home that may factor into your negotiations with potential buyers. A poor inspection report can lower the amount you are able to get for the home, postpone the sale, or even prevent you from selling the home altogether. Carefully preparing for your home inspection and addressing any potential issues before the inspection occurs can help expedite the process.
The first thing you should do to get your home ready for an inspection is clean it. A clean house says you care about the home and take care of it.
An inspector will need access to all areas of a home. Remove anything that may be blocking access to your furnace, air conditioner and water heater. The inspector will need three to four feet of working space to inspect these items. Provide easy access to your basement and/or crawl space and attic as well. Leave all utilities turned on even if the house is vacant. The inspector will need to turn on the stove, run the dishwasher, test the furnace and air conditioning. Without the utilities on, the inspector may have to reschedule, which could delay the closing of your transaction.
There should be easy access to all exterior areas of the house. In the summer, cut down dead tree branches and clear brush from the foundation. Move items such as trash cans and BBQ grills away from the house. Leave the remote controls for your garage door opener or a key if the garage is unattached. Unlock the covers for your electrical box and sprinkler system. If there are any out-buildings be sure to leave keys. Be on time, most all inspectors will be. Sometimes, home inspectors are early. If an inspector makes an appointment with you for 9 a.m., have the house ready for inspection at 8:30. It’s also common for inspectors to start on the exterior of the home, so leave the shades down or drapes drawn until you are dressed. More than one unprepared seller has been “surprised” by a stranger in the backyard.
Buyers will often meet the inspector for a walk through towards the end of an inspection and would feel uncomfortable asking questions if the owner is present. Try to schedule a time for the inspection when you can be out of the house for at least three hours. If you have pets, take them with you if possible.
If you are aware of anything that may be red flagged during an inspection, have repairs done prior to an inspection. Taking care of the situation prior to the inspection can eliminate frustration for both the seller and buyer. If repairs are not possible prior to the inspection be sure to list any repair issue in disclosures. All invoices and documents regarding remodeling projects or new items such as a roof or furnace should be available to the inspector. If you have upgraded the electrical from ungrounded to grounded, installed a new roof, replaced a furnace, or simply replaced a leaky faucet, find the paperwork. Any work done that required a permit should be documented. It will give the buyer peace of mind to know those items were re-inspected.
Finally, consider doing a pre-listing inspection. Conducting a pre-listing inspection sends a clear signal that you are not trying to hide anything. It might even make a buyer feel confident enough to go ahead and submit an offer. Even if a potential buyer decides to pay for another independent inspection, your initiative will convey that you have cared for your home. This is especially useful if you are selling your home on your own, without a listing agent. Showing the buyer that you are willing to go the extra mile is never a bad thing.