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The Home Inspection
Many times in today’s real estate market, buyers will include a home inspection contingency in the offer on a home. A home inspector may be hired by a buyer to determine the condition of a home.
A seller may also hire a home inspector to conduct a pre-listing home inspection. Some home sellers find it valuable to understand what condition their home is in and make necessary repairs before they list it for sale.
In either case, there are ways for the seller to get the most out of the process, and ensure it is a quick and relatively painless inspection. Preparing your home for a home inspection is essential to ensure a smooth process and potentially improve the results.
The goal is to create a positive impression of your home’s condition. While a home inspection is meant to uncover issues, addressing these preparations can help ensure a smoother inspection process and potentially increase the chances of a favorable report.
Preparing for a Home Inspection
While we advise getting your home in the best condition that you can before you list your home for sale, there are always a few items that get inadvertently left off the list of things to do. Most sellers end up with at least a few items on the home inspectors list that end up on the homebuyers list to negotiate a remedy before closing the sale.
There are measures to take to speed up a home sale inspection by preparing the home ahead of time. The home inspection will go smoother, and there will be fewer opportunities for a closing to be delayed if the seller addresses repairs that are needed.
Clean and Declutter:
The first step a homeowner can take in preparing for a home inspection is to do a thorough cleaning of your home. This includes decluttering. Since you will soon be packing up to move, why not pack away any unnecessary clutter. There are minimalist home staging strategies that you can use to get your home clean, tidy, and ready for the market.
When the home is clean and clutter is at a minimum, it is easier for a homeowner see any items that need to be replaced or repaired. Sometimes dust and dirt can disguise what needs our attention!
Additionally, a clean, clutter-free environment makes it easier for the inspector to access various areas and reduces any distractions.
Check for Minor Repairs
Check to make sure everything that is supposed to work actually works. Address minor issues; these small fixes can give a better impression of the overall condition of the home. Here are some common minor repairs that most homeowners can fix themselves when preparing for a home inspection:
- Light Fixtures: Make sure lights are functioning, including replacing non-working light bulbs. If bulbs are out, an inspector’s note will read that the fixture does not operate properly, based on his or her observation at the time. The buyers will usually ask for a licensed electrician to check the fixtures, costing you a service fee that you probably would have been happy not spending. Both inside and outside lights need to be checked.
- Leaky Faucets and Fixtures: Check for dripping faucets, showerheads, or running toilets. These issues can waste water and increase your utility bills. Most often, they can be fixed by replacing washers or seals.
- Caulking and Grout: Inspect the caulk and grout in your bathrooms and kitchen. If you find gaps or cracks, re-caulk around sinks, bathtubs, and showers, and regrout tiles to prevent water damage.
- Squeaky Floors: Address squeaky or creaky floors by adding screws or nails to secure loose floorboards. Lubricating floor joints with a specialized product can also help.
- Door and Window Seals: Check for drafts around doors and windows. Replace weather stripping or seals as needed to improve energy efficiency.
- Cracks in Walls and Ceilings: Small cracks in walls or ceilings can be patched with spackle and repainted to maintain a smooth appearance.
- Loose Cabinet Hardware: Tighten loose cabinet knobs and handles. This is a simple fix that can improve the look and function of your kitchen and bathroom.
- Sticking Doors or Windows: Doors and windows must be functional, and able to be opened and closed smoothly. If doors or windows are difficult to open or close, consider sanding or planing them slightly. Sometimes, a bit of lubrication in the tracks can also help. Entryway locks and any loose handrails should be tightened or repaired. If window glass is cracked or screens are missing, they should be repaired or replaced. Cabinet doors should function properly.
- Electrical Outlets and Switches: Replace any faulty electrical outlets or switches to ensure safety. If you notice flickering lights, investigate the issue promptly.
- Appliances need to be operational as well. If you have records of service and repairs over the time you’ve owned the home, print and keep them handy for potential buyers to view. Evidence of a well-kept home will be valuable.
- Clean or replace dirty HVAC air filters. Filters should fit securely.
Check for Major Repairs
If you are unaware of the condition of the major systems of your home, a pre-listing home inspection might be a good idea. Having a home inspector go over your home will reveal any major issues that would most likely come up in a home inspection that a buyer would have. The pre-listing home inspection will help you get your home ready for the market, with confidence that your home out-shine the competition.
- As with all major systems, plumbing fixtures, including toilets, tubs, showers and sinks must be in proper working condition, with drainage flowing properly.
- The HVAC system should be functioning properly.
- Electrical: The electrical system will be checked for code compliance, safety hazards, the condition of wiring, outlets, switches, and the electrical panel (breaker box).
- Fireplace and Chimney: If the home has a fireplace, the inspector will assess its condition, including the chimney and flue.
- Septic or Sewer System: If applicable, the inspector may evaluate septic systems or sewer lines for any issues or blockages.
Preparing the Home’s Exterior
- The Foundation: When checking outside, the inspector will examine the foundation to make sure any grade or mulch is removed from contact with the siding or foundation. The grade should slope away from the structure. We’ve seen countless problems with basement moisture that built up over the years because of bad grading. The expense of fixing your grading problem is much more tenable than installing a water proofing system, like a “desert dry basement system”. The inspector will also check for standing water, sick or dying trees, and walkways or hardscaping.
- Gutter Maintenance: Clear debris from gutters and downspouts regularly to prevent clogs and ensure proper water drainage. Leaky or loose gutters should be repaired promptly.
- Exterior Paint Touch-Ups: Inspect the exterior of your home for chipped or peeling paint. Touch up these areas to protect against water damage and maintain curb appeal.
- Fence Repairs: Repair loose or damaged fence boards or sections. This helps maintain privacy and security.
- Driveways are part of the overall inspection, and cracks in cement or asphalt will be noted. Repairing these prior to the listing the home is preferable.
- Any weathered paint on siding or deck, or chipped or peeling siding will also be noted by the inspector.
- Roof Inspection: Periodically check for missing or damaged shingles on your roof. Replace them as necessary to prevent leaks. The inspector will check the roof for defects in the shingles, flashing and fascia.
- Skylights, chimneys and gutters will get a good look as well.
- Garden and Landscape Maintenance: Keep an eye out for overgrown plants or weeds that may need attention. An overgrown landscape sends a subtle message that there might be other areas of deferred maintenance. Additionally, it detracts from the curb appeal of the home. Good curb appeal is 90% elbow grease!
- Trees and bushes should be trimmed back from the foundation, roof, siding and chimney.
If possible, don’t wait for the home inspection to address most of these issues. With the exception of a few major items, most of the items that come up in a home inspection are things that a homeowner can keep in good working order with regular home maintenance. Additionally, having a huge list of last-minute things to do adds to the stress of selling your home.
The Day Before The Home Inspection
Once the inspection is scheduled, sellers should plan to spend a few days before the appointment getting the home ready. These items that will make the job of the home inspector easier should be addressed prior to the inspection include:
- Clear all walkways of debris and obstacles so the inspector can easily move around.
- Inspectors need access to all areas of the house, attic, roof and garage. The inspector will also need access to any crawlspace, heating system, air-conditioning unit, the electrical service panel cover and water heater.
- Any boxes or other stored items should be removed and a clear path should be provided.
- Providing clear access to the attic hatch, which is often in a closet, so be sure to clear shelves, etc.
- Replace dirty furnace filters.
- Clear a path in the basement, whether it’s finished or not, so the inspector can walk around the perimeter of the wall.
- Gutters should be cleaned out and any debris removed from the roof.
- Replace burned out light bulbs.
- Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace any dead batteries. Smoke detectors are required on every floor of a home, outside sleeping areas, and inside all bedrooms. Smoke alarms powered by electricity should have a battery backup. Every residence with fuel-burning appliances should also be equipped with at least one laboratory-tested CO alarm.
- Make sure oven and stove are clean and clear of food, so the inspector can check them.
- It is preferable to empty the dishwasher, so it can be tested, although the dishwasher can run with or without a load of dishes.
- Don’t leave laundry in the washer or dryer, they will be checked too.
- When preparing for a home inspection, make sure the inspector has good access to any mechanical items, such as the furnace, air conditioner and water heater. (nobody wants a cranky home inspector because he has difficulty doing his job!)
- Sellers should also consider printing out paperwork that documents any recent service.
- While pets are part of the family, they should be removed or crated during a home inspection. In addition, any damage caused by pets should be repaired prior to the inspection.
A little preparation is all it takes to make sure you have a smooth home inspection. Not only will taking the time to prepare your home for an inspection make your selling experience better, it will give buyers peace of mind knowing that you are prepared. It will make for a quicker smoother process overall.
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“Preparing for A Home Inspection” is a guest post from our favorite Frederick Home Inspector, David Goldberg. Thanks David for another informative article.
David Goldberg – Home Inspector
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322
Chris & Karen Highland
eXp Realty – 301-301-5119
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