Preparing for the Home Inspection: A Realtor’s Checklist
You’ve heard that adage, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” right? Well, the same sentiment rings true in real estate—particularly when it comes to selling a home.
Though you might have a bid and a signed contract, the deal’s not over until those closing papers are done and the keys exchange hands. But before you can get to that point? The home will need to be inspected.
The First Hurdle: The Home Inspection
Most contracts contain a home inspection contingency, meaning the buyer has the right to have a pro inspect the property. If they’re not happy with the results? They can renegotiate the deal or pull out altogether.
Naturally, this can be a pretty scary possibility.
But a looming home inspection doesn’t always mean a threat to your sale. Though you can’t control what the inspector finds or what he includes in his final report, you can prep the home to minimize potential issues and make the inspection as easy and smooth a process as possible.
Want to reduce the chances of your home inspection going awry? Here’s a home inspection checklist detailing what you and your sellers can do to prepare:
- Clean. There are two big reasons to clean—and clean well—before an inspection. First off, you want there to be clear, uncluttered paths through your home to make things easy on the inspector. Clutter will only get in the way during the inspection, and it could even result in damage to your property. That’s the last thing you want when your home’s on the market. The second reason you’ll want to clean is to give the inspector the impression that the home is well-cared for. If the house is a mess, he may be more likely to dig deeper and nit-pick, thinking the sellers didn’t take proper care of the home.
- Make known repairs. If you know there are things that need fixing—especially ones your buyer might not know about just yet—have your sellers fix them or bring in a handyman for the job. Make sure they keep any receipts and invoices for repairs, too. These can often set the buyers’ minds at ease, should an issue come up.
- Keep the utilities on. A big part of the home inspection process is testing the property’s systems, like its plumbing, electrical, and HVAC units. The inspector can’t do this if the water has been turned off or the power shut down. Even if your sellers have moved out and onto their new property, encourage them to leave the utilities on at least through the contingency period.
- Make sure everything is accessible. The inspector is going to go through all areas of the home, and that includes the attic, garage, shed, and even crawlspace. Have your sellers clear pathways to these areas and ensure no doorways or entries are blocked. They should move boxes and clear away storage items if they’re in the way of the inspector’s possible path.
- Clear away outside debris. The inspector will also need to look at the yard and outdoor surroundings of the home, particularly those right around the walls and foundation. Make sure your sellers rake away any leaves or dirt piled up around the structure of the home, and clear debris from the driveway, sidewalk, patio, and other structural elements.
- Check safety monitors. It’s very important that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order, as these present serious safety issues and will always get noted in an inspection report. If any of these units are dysfunctional, have your sellers replace the batteries, seek a repair expert, or replace the unit altogether before the inspection date.
- Hire an exterminator. Have a pest control expert come out and spray the home for common local bugs, like flies, mosquitoes, spiders, and ants. The last thing a buyer wants to see on their inspection report is a pest infestation.
- Leave the premises. Ideally, your sellers should leave the property during the inspection. The home inspector is there for the buyer, in most cases, and they will be evaluating the home from top to bottom. It can take as long as 3 to 5 hours, depending on how large the house is. Sellers are best served by clearing out, and leaving the inspector to do his job in peace.
You may even want to encourage your sellers to get a pre-sale property inspection before listing the property. This will help them anticipate any potential issues and tend to them before buyers ever set foot in the home. Though there will be an added home inspection cost for this service, it could save the seller (and you) significant time, hassle, and cash when all is said and done.
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