5 Easy Ways a Seller can Prepare for a Home Inspection
The home inspection process is not complicated. It is comprised of 6 categories: Structural, Electrical, Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, Appliances, and Optional (Termite, Pool, Septic, etc.). Furthermore, each category has a series of subcategories that assist the inspector in the inspection process. The process normally takes between 1 to 2 hours per 1000sqft, but the actual time spent on the house really depends on the overall condition of the home. The inspection covers everything in a house which might come as a shock to an unprepared home seller. To help in the preparation of selling your home, below are 5 basic items that a homeowner can take into account prior to listing a house to ensure the inspection process runs smoothly. For more information on what we look for during the inspection process please visit our Home Inspection Page.
1. Access, Access, Access
Did I mention access? There are some parts of the home not normally visited by the homeowner, and for good reason. However, to help with the inspection process, the inspector will need access to the water heater, electrical panel, and attic. We normally run across these sections and find them blocked, or with restricted access, due to the homeowner being unaware that these sections are part of the process. To keep it simple, think of a 3’ by 3’ square of empty space in front of the electrical panel, water heater, and attic access. If there are items in this 3’x3’ space (like a car, boxes, or shelving), the inspector may not be able to fully inspect the section, causing it to remain uninspected due to restricted access. This could lead to a reinspection on the homeowner’s dime or a specialist visit. Both add unnecessary time and could have been avoided had the inspector simply been granted access to those sections.
We all love our pets, and we expect the best for them. However, there are times when we don’t put our pets in the best environment, causing them to act like completely different animals when we are not present. Please keep in mind that the inspector will be there for at least 3 hours to perform the inspection and then another hour walking the potential homebuyer(s) and their agent through the findings. From the pet’s point of view, we are complete strangers walking through their houses! While we all believe in keeping our pets safe, the last thing we want is for the homeowner’s pet to bolt out the gate or front door, or worse, attack someone while the prospective homebuyer is there. This is why we highly recommend for the homeowner(s) to either take pets with them or crate them to help us prevent any mishaps.
3. Don’t Hide Things
In this line of work, we come across some interesting “repairs.” Spackle and paint on a crack is not going to hide the fact that the house has foundation problems. Not only are we going to see the spackle and paint where the crack was, but we will be able to tell the house has foundation problems due to windows and doors not opening, frieze board separation, and any number of other clues we look for while inspecting the property. Besides, the last thing any seller wants is to give the impression that they are hiding something from the buyer, or worse, a lawsuit after the house has sold.
4. Cosmetic vs. Concern
I normally tell my inspectors that if it’s something that can be repaired without a license, then it is a cosmetic item that the potential homebuyer can repair after they move in. An example of this would be a 2” hole in the wall caused by the door knob. We’ll mention it in the report but inform the homebuyer that it falls in line with a honey do list, not something that is going to kill the deal. A concern would be if the temp splits on the HVAC system are off, meaning the temperature difference from the supply temp reading and the return temp reading is under 15 degrees. It could be as simple as changing the air filter to remedy the issue; however, how often was the air filter changed initially? Once a year, every three months, or only one time when the unit was installed 15 years ago? When we find something that requires a specialist to look at, it becomes a concern.
Most homeowner have a preconceived notion that their house must pass the home inspection to close the sale. That is not the case; a home inspection is not a pass or fail test, it is an observation of the property that will give the potential homebuyer the necessary tools they need to make an educated decision on the property before moving forward with the contract. There is no such thing as a perfect house. Let me repeat that: there is no such thing as a perfect house. We’ve come across newly-constructed homes that have major flaws in them due to someone forgetting to install a critical item, and we’ve come across 60-year-old homes where almost nothing was noted in the report due to proper maintenance.
6. Don’t Attend the Inspection With the Buyer
I repeat, DO NOT ATTEND THE INSPECTION WITH THE BUYER. We get it. You are excited about selling your house and moving on with your life, but the last thing any homebuyer, agent, or inspector wants is for you, the seller, to be over our shoulders and asking the infamous question, “So, did you find anything?” The answer is yes; however, our obligation is with the buyer, not the seller, on the overall condition of the property. Furthermore, when you are there, the buyer will not ask the questions about the property that they normally would ask were they alone, for fear of offending the seller. Finally, the mere presence of you on site during the inspection process is putting the sale of the property at risk
Basically, owning a home is an ongoing, never-ending project. If you do regular maintenance on your home (change the air filter every 3 months, check your water heater for any corrosion in the lines, etc…), then the home inspection process will go smoothly. However, if you do not do regular maintenance on your home, the home inspection process is not going to go as smoothly as you had hoped, which could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs, or worse, a lost sale. The good news is, it is never too late to start, and if you have any questions about the inspection process, you can give us a call at 800-213-8447 and we will gladly walk you through it!