A home inspection is a crucial step and often a deciding factor for the majority of home buyers. Although some problems that occur in your home over the years are obvious and listed in your sellers disclosure, not all of the wear and tear on a home’s inner workings are visible to the naked eye. That’s why when the time comes to sell your house, the inspection could yield surprises, even if you’ve kept to a routine home maintenance schedule. As a seller, you want to make sure that you do everything you can to ensure it goes well! Here are some home inspections tips for sellers to help the process go smoother and get you one step closer to selling your home!
Tip #1: Trust your real estate agent to help you navigate home inspection preparations and negotiations
After 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 have little to no experience preparing for the home inspection and the negotiations that will follow.
Your real estate agent should help you:
- Understand the types of home maintenance issues that are common in your area, whether it’s signs of water leakage in a region where every home has a basement, improper electrical wiring in a neighborhood of historic homes, or pest issues in warm climates.
- Craft a game plan for any repair requests—to think about whether you have time to hire contractors to fix issues yourself or offer repair credits in the event that problems do arise.
- Take the pulse of 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 eager prospective buyers will be to snatch up your house.
- Differentiate between minor and major home inspection findings and what constitutes grounds for negotiations (cosmetic repairs versus issues that pose a health or safety threat).
Tip #2: Make it easy to get everywhere
Ensuring that the home inspector can get to every area of your home is crucial to the inspection going well.
If they cannot get to an item they need to inspect – like the electrical panel – because it is blocked by a cabinet they will mark it as “Not Inspected”.
When buyer’s don’t have an answer, they might assume the worst and ask for more concessions. The inspector might have to come back out to your property at a later date, which will draw out the process.
Leave keys and passcodes to anything that would need to be accessed, like outdoor sheds and garages. These will allow them to get into the space and inspect it, and they will make sure to close it up properly when they are done.
Other common areas to make sure are accessible:
- Water heater
- AC unit
- Attic access
- Crawlspace access
- Sinks, baths and all associated plumbing
- Electrical panels
Tip #3: Tidy up like your in-laws are coming
Unless you don’t care for them. But you get our point.
Perception goes a long way.
Dust, vacuum, and put away random items. While the inspector will appreciate this because it will make their job easier, the homeowner will also appreciate that you take good care of your home.
They will also be able to envision their things being in the space and picture it being their home, whereas a messy home only makes buyers want to leave the mess.
Tip #4: Do the little things you've been putting off
This is a great opportunity to save yourself from petty items being asked for. Do a quick check to make sure that:
- Light bulbs are all changed out
- Smoke detectors are working
- All of the appliances are plugged in
- The inspector has access to everything, i.e. there aren’t boxes blocking the water heater, the garage door opener works, etc
- The filter in the HVAC has been changed recently
- Sinks aren’t leaking underneath
- All of the locks are working properly
- No loose door handles, baseboards, etc.
Tip #5: Get familiar with the things home inspectors look for
Home inspection reports, which document the home inspector’s findings, are thorough and detailed—and (if you get your hands on a copy as the seller) will likely make you feel like your house is falling apart. The reality is many of the things on the report won’t ruffle any feathers—like worn out sink stoppers. The things that you should be prepared to remedy or negotiate on are the big ticket items that pose a safety or health issue or constitute a building code violation.
Review our complete guide on what home inspectors look for, which at a high level includes:
- Signs of water damage
- Issues that threaten the home’s structural integrity
- Damage to the roof
- Problems with the home’s electrical system such as faulty wiring
- Plumbing issues whether it be corroded or leaking pipes
- HVAC age and functionality
Tip #6: Weigh 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 fix issues that would come up in the buyer’s inspection at closing, putting them in a position of strength during negotiations.
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.
Tip #7: Where did we put those manuals...
If you have recently had work done on your home, like getting a new roof, make sure to find the certification and leave it out. Have a warranty? Find the paperwork.
This will be helpful for the inspector to know, and will also be an incentive for the buyer, because they will know that they are getting a home that has had updates recently.
This is important to a lot of buyers because this could be one less expense to account for after they move in.
Tip #8: This should go without saying but...leave
Although it may seem strange to leave your home with the inspector and the buyer, it is important that you – as the seller – are not present during the buyer’s inspection.
The inspector will not feel comfortable pointing out potential defects if you are there for fear of upsetting you, and the buyer will likely not want to ask as many questions for the same reason.
Make sure to bring pets with you! This is not only a liability issue, it’s also kind to your pet. If you can’t bring pets with you, make sure to kennel them to let the inspector do their job without distraction.
Plan to stay away for at least three to four hours. Your agent or the home inspector will let you know when they are done.
Either Way, Being Prepared Helps
No matter if you’re following these home inspection tips for sellers to entice buyers in a buyer’s market – or just maximizing your value in a sellers market – these are just decent things to do.
There is something to be said about the pride of homeownership, and part of that is having a smooth transaction where you’re conscious of and courteous to the next owner of your home.