Your upcoming professional home inspection is the make it or break it moment of your sale, and preparing your home prior to it, is crucial. Not only will the results determine whether or not the buyer moves forward with the sale or backs out, 72% of U.S. homeowners agree the inspection of their new house helped them avoid potential problems after purchasing. Your home buyer only has days left to commit to their offer and your preparedness can help instill confidence to close the deal.
Here's a handy checklist to help you make the most out of your upcoming inspection.
A buyer, from the time they tour your home to the time they submit an offer and pay for an option period to inspect the home, is more likely to commit to living there long-term if the inspection and walkthrough goes smoothly and everything is in working condition.
As a seller, you may be asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I need to prepare items on the house prior to the inspector arriving?
- What does the inspector examine in, on and around the house?
- Are there any ways that I can reduce items on the inspection report before the inspection even happens?
- How will an inspection impact the sale of my house?
- Can you fail a home inspection?
- Do sellers need to fix everything on the inspection report?
Why is it important to prepare for an inspection?
The simple answer to this question is that preparation allows the inspector to examine your home more efficiently, potentially reduce items on the report, and result in a faster turnaround time on selling your house. Not to mention, it can be one less thing to worry about with having to pack up your house for the move and locating your next house to move in to. Not only does preparation benefit the certified home inspector and the home buyer, you are also benefiting yourself in the process!
The goals of a well-prepared inspection is to:
- Save the inspector time. More preparation before your inspection can result in a more efficient appointment time creating a faster turnaround time and less rushed decision making for your buyer.
- Give buyers immediate peace of mind and instill trust. A 20-page written report is much less intimidating compared to 50-page report. Reducing items on the usual lengthy and detailed report provides the buyer with less to review and will not be immediately intimidated or turned away from your home.
- Get your house even more prepared for showings. Leaving reports of cleaning records, warranty papers for foundation and/or appliances, etc. also instills confidence in the buyer by showing them the house is well covered, in good condition, and overall clean.
- Get from offer to close faster with less repairs. If the inspection goes smoothly, buyers can focus on negotiating bigger fixes or necessary repairs instead of wasting time and effort on smaller items that could have been prevented with proper preparation. Sell your home based on its value, rather than the repairs.
How to Get Your Home Ready for the Home Inspector
Treat the inspector as someone that you have invited over to your house for dinner. This is going to be a guest in your house and you want to present everything in a nice, clean fashion. Walking into a clean and organized house feels welcoming and it shows how well you take care of the house. If the inspector has to shuffle things around, maneuver through obstacles or encounters interesting smells, their 4-hour examination becomes frustrating and even more time-consuming, and could negatively impact their perspective of your home.
Unreadiness of the house can deter buyers away, even after a successful showing. This report can tell your buyer how well you have prepared for them to buy your house. Before we look at what items that you can prepare for to reduce the report, let’s review some key household features that will help you to prepare for the inspector:
- Utilities – the inspector needs to test electrical, appliances, plumbing systems etc. Having your utilities “ON” allows the inspector to test such items.
- Access points – it may seem tiresome to clear areas around the electrical panel, water heater, and attic access. However, the inspector needs this area cleared to inspect the items properly. There will be detailed photographs within the report, so obvious dirt and grime will turn a buyer off.
- Pets – an unknown person coming into the house can cause your pet and inspector stress. Have your pets relocated during this period to avoid any accidents or unwanted distractions. Removing pet waste in the yard eliminates chances of pet waste coming into your house from the inspector’s shoes after the inspector walks the perimeter of the property.
- Make hard to find items, easy to find – the gas key for the fireplace, a hidden hot water heater, GFCIs for the pool are just a few items that may increase the time the inspector takes on an inspection. Providing a note for the inspector on finding these items allows the inspector to find them with ease and avoid safety issues.
- Plan to leave the house unoccupied during inspection – making sure pets, children and adults are out of the house for the inspector gives the inspector space to complete their job. Leaving the inspector a note with your phone number to call you directly with any questions is good practice to help with the inspection if needed.
- Cleanliness – last but certainly not least is ensuring your house is clean, especially in the areas the inspector needs to get through. A clean house tells the inspector that the house has been well taken care of. A clean house also provides higher chances of selling your house to a buyer that can see themselves living in the clean house.
Reducing the Length of an Inspection Report
Whether it is big items (foundation, roof, etc.) or small items (loose doorknobs, broken outlet covers, etc.), an inspection report with a long laundry list of issues deters buyers. Fixing minor repairs before the inspector arrives increases your chances of selling the house for its full price potential.
In order to reduce items on a report prior to the inspection, especially in an older home, it’s best to know what’s on the standard inspection report. Here are items on a standard house inspector’s report:
- Structural components
- Roof, attic and visible insulation
- Central A/C and heating systems
- Plumbing systems
- Electrical systems
- Walls, ceilings and floors
- Windows and doors
ProTip: It may be beneficial to have a specialist come look at your foundation, structural components, roof, A/C unit or plumbing and electrical systems if you have an older house and know that some work or replacement may be needed. Making sure the structure of the house is up to par is money well spent on the front end for selling your house to the maximum dollar it is worth. Offering these details to the buyer and their agent can create more trust and transparency.
Items on the Inside of the House
Here, we have a chance to get nit-picky before the inspector does. Some of these items we are about to discuss ending up on the report is not a deal breaker. However, numerous items on the report can make the buyer fearful of making the offer official.
Let’s take a look at some things we can do prior to inspection:
- Replacement – smoke detectors, missing or broken switch and outlet cover plates, exterior door weather stripping, damaged or missing window screens, broken panes of glass in windows or doors, burned out light bulbs, heating and air conditioning filters.
- Repair – leaky faucets, tighten loose door knobs or handles, caulking around doors or windows including showers or baths, secure hand and stair railings, wood rot.
- Proper working condition – ensure all doors, windows, plumbing fixtures (toilets, tubs, showers and sinks) and GFCI receptacles work properly, have the chimney, fireplace, or woodstove cleaved and keep a copy of the cleaning report to provide the buyer a copy.
- Outdoor and landscape – clean dirty gutters and debris from the roof, trim trees, roots, and bushes back from the foundation, roof, siding and chimney, remove grade or mulch from contact with siding (6 or more inches of clearance preferred), patch up failing mortar joints in brick or block.
After the Report is Completed
First and foremost, you cannot fail the inspection of your house. The myth that you can pass or fail is false. The house inspection is not based on a grading system similar to a test or exam for a class or certification. The house inspection is more like medical health records that show a doctor the patient’s health standing. The house inspection report presents the buyer a picture on the condition of the house that provides them knowledge on if the house will be the right purchase for them or not.
Secondly, we would like to share that you do not have to be prepared to fix every issue that comes back from the inspection report. While knowing this can bring some relief, we would like to iterate that you can expect to fix some issues such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing or the roof. If termites are present, you will want to fix this issue regardless, just like water damage or mold. These types of issues should be addressed and fixed by the seller as these items pose a threat to the person(s) living currently inside the house or future residents.
Lastly, the inspection is not a negotiation piece that the buyer can use as ammunition in the close of your house to get the price of the house lowered. The report tells the buyer and their real estate agent the risk of such items with buying a home. As previously discussed, there are some items that should be fixed in order to sell the house. However, the inspection report is not a “To-Do List” for the seller to repair or fix in order for the buyer to buy the house.
You Are Now Prepared for Inspection!
We know the list above can get overwhelming. With Door.com, we further guide you in the right direction. If you have any questions, our team of agents are ready to help you sell your home whenever you’re ready. At the end of the day, preparing for the inspector and minimizing potential items that could end up on the inspection report will maximize your efforts to gain every dollar that your house is worth.