Too often, the only one thinking about the home inspection are the agents and the buyers. It tends to be "just one of those things that happens to sellers." But, it doesn't need to be. There are very few home sales where home inspections are not done. It is also one of the most important contingencies in a sales transaction and sometimes the only contingency.
Home inspections are driven and paid for by the buyers. The contracts treat the inspection like a contingency to the sale and has a contractually specified time line. The contract also loosely defines what inspection items are considered defective versus cosmetic. In some contracts, there will be a specified dollar amount that gives the buyer the option of revoking the contract if issues are discovered more than this agreed-upon figure.
Since the home inspection is one of the biggest hurdles a home seller faces to have a successful sale, it is worth considering what things you can do to have your home in the best possible condition before the home inspection... why leave things to chance. Unfortunately, the home inspection is a leading cause for sales transactions to fall apart. Some times, the contract comes to a halt because the buyer is concerned about the condition of the home. Other times, the inspection may not scare the buyer away but could open up a round of tough negotiations. The buyer may ask you to fix a long list of defects that are discovered, provide them with a credit to deal with the issues, or in a worse case just back out of the agreement altogether.
Home sale preparation is one of the keys to selling Real Estate today anyways, so getting your home ready for the inspection only makes sense. Here are some considerations to help you increase the odds of a successful outcome from the home inspection.
Make it easier for the home inspector to do his job. You can do some simple things such as making sure the inspector can access all of home including the attic. A clear path around all the mechanical items, including the water heater, electrical panel and other house systems will be necessities as well.
Consider having a pre-listing inspection to identify potential findings. This provides you the opportunity to get ahead of some repairs and get estimates for work that is likely to be asked for. Keep in mind that every inspection may turn up some new things... but, having one done yourself is likely to minimize the number of items and surprises.
If you opt not to do a professional pre-listing inspection, at least do your own walk through and consider asking someone else you know to do the same. And, then do your best to remedy them before the inspection takes place.
CONSIDER THE THINGS THAT THE INSPECTOR WILL CHECK:
Expect the home inspector to go over your house with a fine tooth comb. Inspectors typically start on the outside and work their way to the interior. They will be very thorough checking everything they can visually see. The home inspection usually lasts between 1.5 - 3 hours but could take longer for bigger or more complicated homes.
Be prepared for the home inspector to look for the following on the outside:
• Proper grading to ensure water does not easily get into the home.
• Visual damage to the driveway such as cracking or damaged pavement.
• Wood rot most commonly found at window sills and trim boards.
• Structural integrity of the pool cages and other outside components.
• Structural cracks in the building structure that are more than cosmetic cracks.
• The connections of electrical wiring coming into the home.
•The roof including the shingles and signs of problems with the sheathing is something all inspectors will do.
• Functioning of poo and pool equipment and irrigation system.
The inspection of the inside of the home will also be thorough. Plan for the inspector to check the following in the interior of your home:
• Signs of any water penetration into the building.
• Structural defects such as the sills, supports, etc.
• The plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems.
• Signs or any insects or rodents such as termites, ants, mice and others.
• Defects in the floors such as cracking.
• Windows and sliders for mechanical function as well as failure of seals.
• Functioning of household appliances.
• Proper electrical setup.
• Plumbing to ensure no leaks.
MORE COMMON DEFECTS NOTED BY INSPECTORS
Some defects are found in many homes, that as a homeowner, you may not have even paid much attention to. After living in a house for many years sometimes we get used to things being a certain way. Sometimes it may not even cross our minds that a small defect may be a bigger issue to someone else. With this knowledge in hand at least, you will have the opportunity to make some corrections before your home goes on the market.
Ceiling Stains – one of the things in homes that troubles home buyers more than anything else is the fear of water. Nobody wants to have a water issue in their home.
Electrical violations – Electrical issues are most common in homes where Mr. homeowner has decided to make improvements on his own and has not hired an electrician. Often work is not done to code which creates issues. Some of the other more prevalent problems include lack of GFI outlets (Ground Fault Interrupter) if the kitchen and baths. Double tapped electrical breakers are another example. A double tap is when a breaker in the electrical panel has more than one wire creating a hazard from too much current going through one breaker. Non-grounded outlets are another defect you commonly see along with a whole host of others.
Improper bathroom venting – years ago almost every home that had some kind of a bath fan just dumped the exhaust into the attic. Over the years it was discovered that doing this provided the perfect breeding ground for mold in attics. The thought of mold can easily cause a buyer not to want to proceed with purchasing a home. Building codes have since changed, and in most homes built today, it is required that a bath fan vent to the exterior of a house most often through the roof. When an inspector discovers mold most of the time, the owner never knew it was there.
Minor plumbing defects – It is very rare not to find some kind of small plumbing defect. The good news on this one is that they are usually very easy to fix. Some of the more common problems include dripping faucets, loose toilets, and slow or leaky drains. Some of the other nuisance issues that are brought to light by home inspectors are leaky valves on water heaters. Most of the time these are not big issues but routine maintenance that needs to be done by either a plumber or heating contractor.
Mold & Remediation – Mold and radon are two of the biggest deal killers in real estate. Before a home inspection, you should check to make sure you have neither of these issues. Preferably you should check before your home even goes on the market. Mold is something that you can not be sure of unless it is tested by someone in the mold industry. You can, however, reasonably identify what could be mold. Most of the time in homes it will be a black substance that is on the walls or ceilings. The most common places to find mold are attics and baths. Selling a home with mold is difficult. Make sure you deal with this problem before listing for sale.
Radon Remediation - Radon is a gas found outside in the earth. It is a known carcinogen and something that most buyers are very cognoscente of. It can be found in the building products and because of how air tight properties are in SW Florida to withstand strong winds, it can cause this gas to be trapped inside creating higher levels of radon gas than recommended. While there are no federal laws in place regarding radon removal, most buyer’s will request you to remediate it if it is found to be higher than the suggest passing limit which is 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries per liter).
Where possible you will want to try to fix any items that are going to be potential contractual defects and/or items that may be of more concern to potential buyers. Items that you opt not to fix in advance, should be disclosed on the seller's disclosure and have it available for a buyer to see before they make an offer. In this disclosure, you are going to want to list in detail all the defects you know about your home. It is far more difficult for a buyer to try to renegotiate after a home inspection if the defect has already been pointed out to them in black and white before making an offer.
It is a common practice in real estate for the seller not to be around while the home inspection is taking place. The listing agent should be present to listen what defects are discovered. There are, however, things you can do to make the home inspectors job a lot easier before you leave your home.
• Make sure the power remains on and water is turned on.
• Make sure all light bulbs are working by changing them before the inspection.
• Thin out your closets of clothes so the inspector can see inside them.
• If there is access to the attic in a closet, make sure it is accessible.
• Change the filters to your furnace and leave any service tags so the inspector can see them.
• Do not try to conceal any defects you know are present in the home. Trying to cover up problems will throw up a major red flag. The last thing you want is to have a buyer think you are dishonest.
The key is to discover and address any major items before a buyer conducts a home inspection, to be truthful and forthcoming with any items that exist and aren't being addressed and to follow the guidance of your real estate agent when it comes to negotiating repairs requested from the buyers.