SELLERS: Everything you need to know regarding home inspections
The home inspection is the #1 deal breaker in the home buying process. As a seller, you want to be as prepared as possible for the first buyer that comes along. Once you get all of the terms and price agreed on, the last thing you want is for the deal to fall through over a home inspection.
The home inspector will typically provide a 30-60 page report detailing and photographing all major and minor problems with your home. This inspection will include the foundation, roof, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, landscaping, flooring, walls, ceilings, and other elements you may have never even considered.
It is important to know that home inspectors are very thorough, and they will find several issues you most likely were not aware of. In my experience, 99% of the time the home inspection findings are a big surprise to the seller. Have your agent discuss with you the pros and cons of having a home inspection prior to listing your home.
Typically, home inspections cost from $300 to $450 on an average sized home. As pricey as it seems, this can prevent a deal from falling through later.
Having a pre-home inspection can be a big benefit if you are willing to fix most of the repairs. This removes the element of surprise later, and you have the ability to do the repairs on your terms—not the buyer’s. For instance, if your home inspector finds a leak under the sink, you can fix it. If the buyer’s home inspector finds a leak, the buyer will request that you hire a licensed plumber to repair the issue. Doing many repairs yourself or hiring a friend can save you a lot of money. However, it is never recommended that you do major repairs or jeopardize your safety in an effort to save money. Major plumbing, HVAC and electrical work, and major construction should always be performed by a licensed professional.
If, as the seller, you are not willing to do repairs as a result of their pre-home inspection, you should not hire your own inspector because you will be required to list all issues in your property disclosures. This could make a property disclosure a nightmare and scare away all buyers. It is also important to know that most real estate litigation is a direct result of untruthful information and/or lack of disclosure in the seller’s property disclosures.
If you do not wish to do a pre-home inspection, here are some quick tips to do prior to a home inspection:
- Go through the home and make sure there are no light bulbs out. Many times inspectors will think there is an electrical issue when really it’s just a dead light bulb.
- Make sure all lights, fans, and outlets are in working condition and there are no exposed wires. If there are exposed wires hire a licensed electrician; do not attempt to fix this yourself!
- Make sure your gutters are cleaned out. Otherwise it will be recommended by the inspector that this be done to prevent water damage to the gutters, roof, and to prevent basement leaks.
- Make sure all gutter downspouts are extended away from the home. Home inspectors will always recommend this, as water must flow away from the house to prevent basement leaks.
- Go through the home and make sure there are no plumbing leaks in all faucets, under sinks, and in showers.
- All kitchen and bathroom outlets will need to be GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter).
- Make sure all windows are in working order, opening and closing easily.
The inspection will be a comprehensive and detailed inspection, usually taking 3-4 hours to complete. These quick tips are not intended to prevent the inspector from finding anything wrong with your home. They are just some tips to give you a jump start and to prevent many unnecessary items to be listed as “not working properly” in the report.
Here are a few more pointers related to home inspections:
- Make sure your real estate agent explains the details of the home inspection process to you during the listing presentation.
- Make sure your agent discusses the pros and cons of a pre-home inspection during this initial consultation.
- The agent should provide his or her client a list of at least three home inspectors to choose from. Know that this list is provided just as a convenience to you; the client may hire any professional home inspector of their choosing. Some recommended sites to search for contractors are Google, Yellowbook, Yellowpages, Angie’s List, or any local online search engine.
- Have the agent discuss the details of the home inspection contingency once you receive an offer on your home. In the contract there will a section detailing how many days the buyer has to do the home inspection, how many days the buyer has to request repairs, and how many days the seller has to respond to a repair request.
- If there is a home inspection contingency clause in the contract, the buyer may walk away from the deal if the seller does not agree to perform repairs. That does not mean they will walk away—it’s just another negotiating period of the home buying process.
- Both parties may agree to a price reduction in lieu of needed repairs or a repair credit at closing to the buyer, rather than the seller doing repairs. Discuss this option with your agent. This can be a good option for both parties but know that many lenders will not allow repair credits on the HUD.
Because the home inspection is the biggest deal breaker in a real estate transaction, it is important to hire an experienced negotiator. The expertise of a Realtor is valuable in marketing your home efficiently for a quicker sale, pricing it appropriately to get you the highest price, and educating and counseling you throughout the entire process.
I hope this information guides you in a direction that better prepares you to sell your home! For more information, please visit our Sellers page.