How to Prepare for a Home Inspection?
The home inspection process is perhaps the most stressful part of a home sale for both buyers and sellers. The buyer has found a home they love and they want it to be as perfect as possible. The seller has already agreed to a sales price and doesn’t want to have to pay extra to fix things.
Here are some things the seller can do to help the home inspection process go more smoothly:
1. The emptier the better. Every inspector is hoping the house they’re inspecting is going to be vacant. It’s not always possible for the house to be vacant. However, you’re getting ready to move, so why not pack up some of that clutter. This makes it easier for an inspector to see and test more things.
2. Are the utilities on? Please double check that the utilities are on. Numerous times I’ve been to an inspection, where the seller has promised the buyer the utilities are on, only to arrive at the inspection to no water or gas. If the utilities aren’t on, the buyer may request that you pay for a reinspection. Now the money you thought you would save turning off the utilities just went to pay for the inspector to come back a second time. Instead of turning off the utilities, turn the water heater to vacation mode and turn off the heating or air conditioning. This will help save you money when the house isn’t occupied.
3. Attics and crawlspaces. You’re getting ready to move, so you might as well pull those boxes out of the attic. Additionally, make sure there is nothing blocking access panels to attics and crawlspaces.
4. Light bulbs. Be sure to replace any burned out or missing light bulbs. First of all, the extra light will help your house show better. Secondly, it’s something simple that would prevent it being called out as a possible deficiency by the home inspector.
5. If window screens are removed, but you still have them, please reinstall them.
6. Don’t try and conceal things. Just because there’s an issue, doesn’t mean you should try and hide it. Most likely the home inspector will catch it anyways. It’s better to either fix it professionally beforehand or just wait for the inspector to call it out and see how the buyer wants to respond. If there was an attempt to conceal something and the inspector finds it, the buyer will be more concerned about what else you’re concealing. This could cause the deal to fall through.
7. It can’t hurt to hire a handyman or other qualified professional to go through and fix some things for you. Things fixed professionally beforehand can help decrease deficiencies found by an inspector, which can help decrease the stress level for the buyer and the seller. If you are handy, it can be okay to fix some things yourself. Just make sure to do it safely and to a professional level, otherwise the inspector will call out an unprofessional repair suggesting a professional come out and fix it. Don’t pay for a repair twice.
8. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. This has the added bonus of helping your house show better, which can help it sell faster and for more money.
9. I’m sure you’re a great person, but it’s best if you aren’t at the inspection. Please give the home inspector, the buyer, and the buyer’s agent the freedom to inspect and talk freely. Additionally, I love pets, but it’s best if you take them with you while the inspection is happening. There will be people going in and out of the house and it can be hard to keep track of pets all the time.
For the buyer, I also have some advice.
1. Don’t expect the house to be perfect. Every house has problems, even new construction homes have issues.
2. Don’t panic when you see the number of deficiency items. The average range of deficiencies that I see are in the 40 to 60 range. The most “pristine” homes I find have around 30 deficiencies. I’ve inspected homes with more than 100 deficiencies. Just because there are deficiencies doesn’t mean you should walk away from the home. Some of these deficiencies can be super minor to fix or just need to be monitored. Rely on your realtor’s experience to help you respond to the seller.
3. It doesn’t hurt to ask. I had a buyer once walk from a house based on the HVAC company’s report on the condition of the air conditioner. When the buyer’s agent told this to the seller’s agent, the seller’s agent said the seller would have paid to replace the AC. If there’s something that is a deal breaker for you, don’t walk away. Include it as a request in the BINSR.
4. Attend the inspection. I always prefer to have you present at the home inspection. At the end of the inspection, I’ll take you on a tour of the home pointing out features and deficiencies of the home, and explain the “why’s” behind them. If you can’t be there, then perhaps we can do a video chat. And feel free to ask a lot of questions! The answer to everything is 42.