There’s nothing that can squash a deal faster than a bad home inspection. In fact, one out of every 20 real estate transactions goes south along the way, and nearly a third of the ones that don’t make it to closing crash and burn because of issues that arose during inspection, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
Although real estate is an appreciating asset, a property’s physical structure naturally deteriorates over time and requires significant upkeep. While some issues may be obvious — like cracked stucco or a broken light fixture — not all of the wear and tear on a home’s inner workings are visible to the untrained eye. A recent study by Liberty Mutual Insurance found that 80% of homeowners procrastinate or ignore home maintenance issues, while 1 in 3 Americans don’t even have money put aside for home maintenance. Yet, according to Mack Strickland, an appraiser and real estate agent in Chester, Va., “a poorly maintained house can lose up to 20k in value.” Homeowners who fail to take good care of their homes now will pay for it in the long run.
Since most buyers rely on a home inspection going smoothly as a contingency to buy a home or not, as a seller you want to make sure that you do everything you can to ensure it goes well! Here are 7 best practices to help your inspection go as smoothly as possible and get you one step closer to selling your home.
1. Boost Your Curb Appeal: A good first impression is EVERYTHING. As much as people say not to judge a book by its cover, we’re guilty of doing it. A bad first impression can subconsciously alter the way a buyer views the rest of your home. To elevate your home’s curb appeal:
- Pull out your green thumb by making your yard look manicured by mowing the grass, clipping trees and shrubs, planting a few flowers, and cutting vegetation away from the house
- Check to make sure gates and doors work properly, and test locks and deadbolts to be sure they are functioning easily and correctly
- Touch up paint spots if need be, remove exposed nails
- Sweep off porches or decks, and spray off sidewalks if there is any debris
Having the exterior of your home exposed and ready to be inspected will ensure everything goes efficiently. Additionally, any part the inspector cannot get to or see due to obstruction could be viewed negatively by a potential buyer.
2. Check Your Roof and Gutters: You can bet that some of the first things an inspector is going to look at are your roof and gutters, so it is important to make sure they are in good, working condition ahead of time. Make sure to:
- Clean the roof of any debris with a blower or pressure washer
- Repair any damage and replace any missing parts correctly. Additionally, sellers should be aware that temporary fixes and other unfinished repairs will be noted as defects on the inspection report
3. Don’t Forget the Interior: Now that the exterior of your home is in tip top shape, it’s time to turn your attention to the inside. Remember to do a thorough walkthrough of the interior and take note of any necessary repairs or replacements you might need to take care of before the inspection. This includes:
- Testing all interior doors and locks
- Checking for leaky faucets or sinks
- Checking the hot water heater to make sure it’s working properly
- Changing the filter on the HVAC system
- Inspecting all caulking, trim, and seals
- Checking smoke detectors to see if they are in working order
- Testing all fixtures, lights, and fans
- Visually inspecting all drywall for cracks and nail pops
If you’re hoping the inspector won’t catch small issues like a broken light switch or a small crack in the drywall, think again. While these may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, these small repairs add up and can be a major turnoff to potential buyers.
4. Clean Up Every Room: Remember to dust, vacuum, and put away random items or toys. The last thing any home inspector wants to deal with is unnecessary clutter. This hinders them from efficiently doing their job and it can give a negative impression to buyers. They will also be able to envision the space as their own, unlike a messy home that only makes buyers want to leave the mess!
5. Make All Areas of Your Home Accessible: An inspector will need to check every nook and cranny of your home to make sure everything is in working order, so ensuring that all areas are easily accessible is CRUCIAL. If the inspector cannot reach an electrical panel because a piece of furniture is blocking it, they will have to report it as a defect or that they were unable to inspect it, and this can lead buyers to become wary.
You’ll need to provide all keys, garage door openers and passcodes to anything that would need to be accessed, like outdoor sheds and garages. These will allow the inspector to get into the space and inspect it, and they will make sure to close it up properly when they are done.
6. Provide Important Documents: If you’ve had any work done on your home, make sure you supply all the correct paperwork to the inspectors – this includes all documentation about major repairs, upgrades, new furnace, HVAC system, roof, plumbing, etc.
Additionally, any remodeling projects you complete will be a huge incentive for possible buyers, because they know they’re getting a well-maintained home that won’t need updates anytime in the near future.
In addition to providing documents, there are also some documents you’ll want to ask for prior to the inspection. According to Angie’s List, you should “obtain a copy of the pre-inspection contract before the inspection takes place. The agreement should contain the scope of the inspection services the person intends to perform as well as the cost of the services.”
7. Be Polite and Leave: This one might seem obvious, but it’s courteous to leave the house while the examination takes place. A buyer and their agent will accompany the inspector and it can be uncomfortable for them to speak freely and point out possible defects for fear of upsetting the seller. Plan to be gone for at least 3 hours – this is a good time to get your errands done! Furthermore, don’t forget to take your pets or make sure they are secured so the inspector can do their job as easily as possible!
Whether you’re trying to attract buyers in a buyer’s market or maximizing your value in a seller’s market, being prepared always helps. By ensuring you keep a regular home maintenance schedule and by following these tips, the home inspection process is sure to go off without a hitch!