Selling a Home


It may seem pointless having your house inspected before you sell, as many prospective buyers will insist upon their own prior to purchase. But that is precisely why you should. Spending a few hundred dollars for an inspection means you are prepared for any unpleasant surprises that could turn up in the buyer’s inspection report. Get an inspection early enough so you can remedy issues that could jeopardize the sale or force you to lower your price.

The home inspection goes well beyond a fresh coat of paint and new carpets. Your home’s important structural, functional and safety features will be put to the test. A qualified home inspector will give your house a thorough examination, checking the heating and cooling, plumbing and electrical, the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement, and visible structures. The inspector will point out the need for major repairs, identify areas that may need attention soon, and explain what maintenance will be necessary to keep the house in good shape. You should expect a written report that identifies all findings, including fire and safety concerns.

Why an Inspection is Important

A home inspection is a prudent first step in the process of selling your home. You, as the seller, must present the most saleable property possible. A home inspection report will reveal the current condition of your house with specific evaluations of more than four hundred items, and guide you toward enhancing the value and marketability of your property. Most problems in a house are minor and can be rectified easily and inexpensively. These are things like chipped paint, doors or windows that stick, an air conditioner that wheezes or a filter that is dirty. Such shortcomings are overlooked by sellers who have lived with them for years, but they are focused on by buyers. If the perceived problems do not derail the sale, they can provide grounds for price negotiation.

Not only does the pre-sale inspection enable you to attend to problems before the house is put on the market, but it also removes any questions—for you and the buyer—about the condition of your property. Buyers are positively influenced by a professionally produced home inspection report, which improves the speed, price and likelihood of your property sale.

Some home sellers elect not to correct every defect reflected in the inspection report. Instead, they acknowledge the defects to buyers and explain that the asking price has been adjusted to reflect the estimated cost of repairs. This can shorten negotiation time because buyers have fewer objections that could thwart a sale. In addition to facilitating the sale of a home, an inspection helps the homeowner comply with full disclosure real estate laws. By focusing on the condition of your property, you are less likely to overlook a defect or material fact for which you later could be held liable. It is important to note that in recent years, home buyers have been more inclined to file lawsuits against sellers involving allegations of misrepresentation, negligence and fraud. Some judgments against sellers have been severe, even when the omission of facts was unintentional.

What is Inspected

A home inspection is a thorough visual examination of the condition of the home

and property. The process usually takes two to three hours, during which time the house is examined from the ground up. The inspection includes observations about things like operation of the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and appliance systems, as well as structural components like the roof, attic and foundation.

When conducted by a professional, a home inspection covers about a thousand check-points in approximately four hundred items around the home. Findings should be provided to you in the form of a comprehensive report, together with a recommended action. It is vital that such a report includes an objective evaluation of the condition of the home, clearly relating existing defects and indicating potential problems.

What is Not Inspected

Your home inspection is not an appraisal, and vice versa. An appraisal is the formal process of estimating a property’s value as it relates to a mortgage loan or mortgage insurance. It does not itemize defects or reflect potential problems in your home. To ensure an objective evaluation of your home’s condition, many lenders encourage buyers to use private inspection services, and some employers reimburse home inspection fees as part of their relocation programs.

A home inspection report is also not a warranty. Because a home inspection is a visual examination of the home and operating systems, it is not technically exhaustive. There is no assurance, expressed or implied, that equipment will not break down at some future date.

However, such protection is available when a home inspection is complemented by a home warranty. When the services are used in conjunction with one another, a home warranty covers the items that were serviceable at the time of the inspection and subsequently fail due to normal wear and tear.

A home inspection also does not detect every conceivable flaw. It is an inspection of those areas and items that can be seen. Home inspectors cannot see through foundation, floors or walls, and cannot inspect areas that are inaccessible and generally do not move furniture, boxes or any other items. That is why it is important that the inspector has access to everything that should be inspected.

The Importance of Being There

It is important that you be present during the two-to-three-hour inspection that you requested. By accompanying the inspector, you will gain additional insight into the home’s condition. You’ll be able to get a first-hand look at the condition of each key component throughout the house and property so you will have a better understanding of your house and of the inspection report. Also, you’ll be able to get an explanation for concerns about findings which, on paper, may seem distressing but in fact may be trivial. You’ll also be able to have all of your questions and concerns addressed immediately as they arise. The buyer will also likely want to attend the inspection they request, so you’ll want to know what they’ll be seeing first.

Prior to the inspection, prepare a list of questions or concerns about the property. Give these to the inspection company in advance to ensure that such matters will be properly addressed and that any special arrangements can be made if necessary. It is also handy to bring your list to the inspection, so you don’t miss anything.

Preparing for a Home Inspection

As the seller you should plan to accompany your inspector during the entire process. If it is a buyer-initiated inspection, it would be preferable if you were not present. You must be notified in advance of any inspection. Your agent generally will schedule the inspection for a time convenient to both you and the buyer to allow you enough time to prepare.

Make sure the inspector can access all areas of the house. Clear all furniture, boxes, clothes, toys and other personal items that may block access to the furnace, water heater, electrical panels, attic crawl spaces. Inspectors will not enter inaccessible areas. If access to your attic crawl space is located in a closet, remove clothing, shoes and other items. Not only might they be in the way, but as the hatch is removed, debris is likely to fall from the ceiling onto items left there. You’ll also want to ensure that filters are clear in air conditioners, heaters, vents, and drains. You’ll want to clear out areas under sinks so they can be inspected and have the house cleaned thoroughly. It is good to be reachable by phone during the inspection, in case you forgot to do something like unlock the garage. Perhaps take a newspaper and head to a coffeeshop nearby.

Reading the Report

This report is like having the answers to the test before you take it — some things you might already know and acknowledge, others might be important new information. Once you have your inspection report, our team can advise you which repairs, or improvement are vital to the sale of your home and give you a rough idea of what you can expect to spend. You should know that if you become aware of issues in your home that need repair, you must disclose them to the buyer by law. That includes anything the inspector discovers during the house inspection.

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