How sellers can make the most of a home inspection

One of the most stressful parts of selling a home may be when the buyers order a home inspection. Buyers will hire a trained professional to walk through your client’s home, check every appliance, and examine the attic, basement, and crawl space. For hours, the inspector will scrutinize the home and then prepare a thorough report of his or her findings. It is this inspection that could bring the transaction to a screeching halt.

No matter how new your seller’s home is, it is likely the inspection will uncover some defects, probably some the owners did not expect. These might be quick and easy repairs, or they could be deal breakers. However, rather than stressing about what a home inspection might reveal, you can encourage the owners to prepare their home to increase the chances of getting a more positive evaluation from an inspector.

Expecting an inspection

You can urge the owners to gather receipts and reports for any service, repair or replacement they have done on the house. Organizing copies of these for the inspector can be helpful, but an inspector is not going to be interested in any cosmetic changes, such as painting the living room. The main concerns involve the structure of the home, its systems, water damage and pest infestations. To prepare for inspection day, you can suggest that the owners take the following steps:

  • Clear any clutter that will prevent an inspector from accessing the attic, crawl space, basement or other areas.
  • Unlock rooms that contain a water heater, furnace, electrical panel or other appliances, and make sure those rooms have adequate lighting.
  • Check for clogs in the plumbing.
  • Do seasonal maintenance, such as clearing gutters, trimming trees away from the house and replacing HVAC filters, smoke detector batteries, and light bulbs.
  • Make sure the chimneys, flues and gas lines are clear of debris and have adequate caps.
  • Arrange for someone to care for their pets so they are out of the way during the inspection.

Some homeowners even hire an inspector of their own before they list the home. This way, they do not end up blindsided by defects that could affect the outcome of the deal. You may wish to suggest this to a client who has an older home. However, whatever you or your client learn from a pre-listing inspection, you must disclose to potential buyers. If your clients opts out of a pre-listing inspection, you should be prepared to negotiate in case any defects surface during the buyer’s inspection.

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