Preparing for the home inspection is one of the most important things a seller can do after the property is under contract.
11 Must Do Steps in Preparing for the Home Inspection
Congratulations! Your home is under contract, but the contract gives the buyer the right to do a home inspection …. and probably the right to ask for repairs… or to void completely. You want to keep the buyer in the contract so now you are preparing for the home inspection! It is important to realize that the inspector is not a licensed electrician, plumber or HVAC repair person. The inspector is NOT going to make any quick fixes during the inspection. Instead the inspector will just flag the potential defect and suggest that a licensed professional fix it (even when it doesn’t need to be fixed – or you could do it yourself.) Here are 11 steps to take to avoid these situations!
- Make sure all your light bulbs are in working order. The inspector is NOT going to change a burned out light bulb to see if the fixture is in working order. Instead, the inspector is merely going to flag it and suggest that a licensed electrician checks out the fixture.
- Get your HVAC system serviced before you put the property on the market. A licensed HVAC person can clean your system and change the filters, making the system look well cared for. The inspector will like that. If your servicing was over a month before the inspector is coming, change the filter again. Clean filters suggest that the property has been maintained.
- Make sure all the smoke detectors work and that they are 10 year battery sealed detectors if your jurisdiction requires them.
- Check all your faucets and under the sinks to make sure there are no leaks. If the flow of water in any faucets is slow, try cleaning the mesh in the faucet. Check the flow on your shower head. If it is clogged, clean out the holes in the shower head or soak it in a vinegar solution to improve water flow. You don’t want the inspector scaring the buyer with possible clogged pipes that will require thousands of dollars in repairs – when all it is a bit of debris in the faucet filter. If your toilet rocks in place, try to tighten the bolts holding it to the floor. A loose toilet suggests that you need a new wax seal when maybe you just need to tighten the bolts. Turn on the outside hose bibs if they were winterized – and winter is now over.
- Clean up your house – just as you did for the open houses. A messy house will make the inspector think that the house has not been maintained.
- As you’re cleaning, be sure to make room for workspace around the furnace, water heater, air conditioner and electrical boxes. In order to properly check these areas, about four to five feet of space is required. Remember to clear away snow, leaves and brush from exterior inspection points as well. Trim any bushes blocking the air flow to the outside condenser.
- Provide your inspector with access to all points of the house, including the attic, basement and garage. Move any large items or boxes a few feet away from the walls and if you happen to find any rodent droppings or cobwebs, remove and clean the area. Pay attention to any evidence of water infiltration in the basement.
- Ensure that the electric panel is labeled for which circuits control which parts of the house. Why pay an electrician to label the panel when you can do it yourself?
- Make sure that the gutters are clean and clear of debris.
- Most of us have to occasionally deal with an errant ant or spider in the home, especially in warmer temperatures. But if you’ve got a wasp nest in the backyard or are regularly seeing lines of ants in your kitchen or other interior areas, you’ll want to take care of these problems prior to inspection. Most bug problems aren’t a huge deal, but they can scare your buyers.
- Leave any receipts for work already done such as the HVAC service or the septic tank clean out.
Remember Your Utilities!
If you have moved out of the house, you might think that you can turn off your utilities. That is a BAD idea. Leave all of your utilities connected, even if the house is vacant. The inspector will have to check the lighting, turn on the stove, run the dishwasher and test out the furnace, among other tasks. If the utilities are off, the inspector will not be able to complete the inspection, reschedule and possibly delay the selling process. It might seem so easy for the inspector to turn on the water to the water heater or a toilet, but the inspector will not do that. Instead, the inspection report will just get a little longer!
Final Hints for Preparing for the Home Inspection
Lastly, when it comes time for your inspection appointment, have all documents ready and stay out of the way. Make plans for you, your children and pets to be out of the house for at least two to three hours. Make the beds. Pick up your clothes. Empty the dishwasher and the laundry machines. Clean the litter box! You want the house to be clean and accessible throughout.
In case that a prospective buyer accompanies the inspector, it can get awkward to ask questions with the seller present. Before you leave, make sure to provide any and all repair invoices and receipts in regards to remodels or updates. It is also helpful to let your listing agent know that you are available by phone to answer any questions the buyer and inspector may have during the inspection.
At this point, take a deep breath. Most buyers aren’t expecting complete perfection; they just want to know that there are no heavy burdens waiting for them. It’s common for the home inspector to note a few minor issues, but most of the time, if there’s something serious to detect you already know about it from living in your property.
Do You Want to Talk to Lise?
I have been a realtor for over 33 years, specializing in helping buyers and sellers throughout the DC metro area with all their real estate needs. In addition to being a realtor with many years experience in all kinds of markets – the good, the bad and the ugly, I also am an attorney admitted to the bar in the District of Columbia. While I no longer practice as such, I think that my years of experience as a lawyer also work to the advantage of my clients.
In addition to a deep knowledge of the market and the ins and outs of the real estate transaction, I bring to my sellers a real commitment to technology in general and its absolute necessity in marketing properties. My buyer clients also benefit from my technology skills because I am constantly searching all the hidden corners of the real estate market looking for that perfect home for them.
If you want an agent who always puts your interests first, then you should call me and set up a time for a cup of coffee, a little pastry and a lot of conversation. Let me show you Howe Real Estate Should Be. I am at 240-401-5577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to talking with you!