Your house is on the market, and you have a serious buyer interested or you are preparing your home to go to market. This is always the best news but also not the time to become complacent. In most cases when you are selling your home, the buyer will request a home inspection during escrow. Not only is it sometimes required by lenders, but most buyers will want to assess the condition of the home before closing escrow to ensure they are making a good investment. With this in mind, you as the homeowner want to guarantee the inspection goes smoothly, so the buyer has no reason to re-trade on their offer – Therefore, preparation is key!
To safeguard your home’s equity during this process, here are some steps you can take to prepare:
Step #1: Complete a Pre-Inspection
Prior to a professional coming to visit, you will want to complete a home inspection. This includes making sure there are no pending maintenance issues and that everything is operating correctly in the house. Make sure to assess the interior and exterior of the home; inspect all areas and test when applicable. During the pre-inspection it is important to make a list of all major and minor issues found with the home. Here are some things to include on your pre-inspection:
- Structural features including roof, siding, windows, and doors
- Attic and crawl spaces
- Electrical, gas, heating and cooling systems.
- Foundation integrity
- Water temperature and pressure
For the following, you will want to test their functionality and replace if necessary:
- Windows and doors (locks and seals)
- Toilets and faucets
- Air filters
- Ceiling and bathroom fans
- Light switches
- Garage doors
During your inspection, check for the following:
- Paint blistering
- Peeling caulk
- Damaged glass
- Water stains
In addition to these, you will want to check the exterior of the home. This will vary depending on the size of your lot, but you will want to make sure the exterior is functional and presentable. This can include trimming trees, clearing gutters, and clearing debris.
Step #2: Make Minor Home Repairs
Once you have conducted your pre-inspection, the next step is to make minor home repairs. Since you may already be under contract, you will want to leave the larger projects untouched; your home should have been valued with these larger repairs in mind, and the list price should reflect that the buyer is purchasing the home with these problems. If a major problem was found during your home inspection such as structural damage, you should consult with your real estate agent about how to proceed. The impact that a major issue can have will depend on the market. For example, if you are in a seller’s market and there had been multiple offers on your home, you may be in a position to report the issues to the buyer, but let them know that there will be no negotiation on price even with the issue found. On the other hand, if it is a buyer’s market then you may need to either make the repair or agree on a lower price.
As for minor repairs, these should be completed. The buyer will see minor repairs as more than just a financial expense but a timely one too. Completing the minor projects will ensure the buyer is ready to proceed.
Step #3: Clean Your Home
Prior to the inspector visiting the home, complete a deep clean. Although the cleanliness does not directly impact the value of your home, it can have an impact on the perspective of the inspector. For example, if the home is kept in dirty and cluttered conditions, the inspector may be predisposed to believe that he or she will find a problem with the home. While this is a psychological effect it should be considered when preparing for an inspection.
Additionally, tidy up all clutter and remove any obstructions, and be sure the inspector has access to all points of the home. This can include cleaning the furnace filter, emptying storage from the attic, organizing closets that are an access point to your crawl space or attic, emptying the laundry, and cleaning the stove and oven. Additionally, you will also want to clear at least five inches of space around the perimeter of your home’s exterior.
Step #4: Be Prepared on the Day of the Inspection
On the day of the inspection make sure to give your inspector full range of the home. You as the homeowner should make alternative plans that day so you are not present. Additionally, if you have a pet, find a pet sitter who can take the pet away from the home during the time of the inspection.
When the inspector arrives, it’s important to ensure he or she has full access to your home. Therefore, you will want to unlock all gates and doors or provide them with access to a lockbox. For the latter your real estate agent should be able to assist you.
To make the process even more simple, consider leaving all utilities on, opening the electrical box, and turning on the pilot for gas-fired appliances. Also, include an inspection package. The goal here is to make all necessary items easily accessible to the inspector. The inspection package can include all remotes and keys, a sketch of the home identifying the layout of the home and the location of important items, and paperwork for any maintenance, repairs, or insurance claims.
Don’t Get Lazy
One of the biggest mistakes a homeowner can make is getting lazy once they enter into escrow. They believe there could be nothing wrong with the home that would deter a buyer. Much of this confidence can be driven by the emotional connection the owner has with the home. However, the reality is that the inspection can raise many red flags to a buyer if the home is not prepared properly, often resulting in the buyer offering a lower price on the home. So, to be sure you do not lose any value, start early on preparations and be diligent.