Selling your home is stressful. There are so many moving parts and many things that we just cannot control. But, there are areas that we can improve to help reduce some of the stress and unknowns. Today we will examine the inspection for the home that we are selling and what we can do to reduce items that the buyer may request for remedy.
Some of the items that we will discuss may seem very much like common sense. They are, but we don’t buy and sell homes every day, so we need some guidance to make sure we do all we can to make it as successful possible.
Why do we want to be so concerned about the inspection on your home? Well the obvious is that we may be able to reduce items that are requested for repair and thus the cost of selling your home by simply doing a few maintenance items. Reduced cost is always a good idea but the maintenance items will also prepare you for what to look for in the home inspection you’ll need before the purchase of your new home. As you go through the list of items we will discuss (the checklist linked below), you will have a better idea that, even your home that you think is safe and in good repair, has more items to address than what you thought. That realization will help us to frame the inspection report for your new home properly and in context.
Make sure all the utilities are on and running. If we are living in the home we’re selling, well that’s easy, but sometimes we are selling a second home or a rental. Utilities include the water, gas, and electric. Move your lovable pets to a safer area of the home or better yet remove them from the house completely. We love our pets, but we want to make sure they are safe and out of the way for the inspector to complete his work. Reducing commotion and stress for the buyer is always in our best interest. Make sure that we know where the utilities are and that the access is clear for the inspector. We may think that the inspector will just move what needs to be moved, maybe, but in general they will not move anything in a home they inspect. The reason is that there is a liability that is attached to moving things in the home of a seller. So the scope of work includes only accessible and visible items. If we have access clear and available we will not have to make arrangements for a re-inspection of that particular item in the next few days and it will help avoid any buyer frustration.
Additionally, you will want to make sure your home is clean. When the inspection is scheduled it likely is done so the buyer can be present. This means it is another show case of your home and another opportunity to sell your home or reinforce the sale. Another item about a clean home is that it goes toward how the home may have been cared for before we decided to sell it. It may impact the comfort of the buyer in a positive way. A clean home would include no dirty dishes in the sink or the dishwasher and remember to remove stored items from the oven. We would also want to move cars from the garage and change our furnace filter (more about this later). Finally, you may consider a few refreshments for the buyers, the broker and the inspector. You can discuss this with your broker, but anything that makes the buyer feel good, not just about the home, but also about the kind of people we are, will help to create a better buying atmosphere.
What else may we do to make the process easier? Have your number available for the inspector to call to ask questions that may help complete the inspection. If there are items that need to be clarified, review them with your broker and add a note to the inspector.
Now let’s get to work on specific items.
Outside Your Home
Drainage. There are several things on the outside of your home that will need your attention in preparation for a buyer’s inspection. Check the lay of your yard around the house, does it drain away from it, are there pools of water or the evidence of pools of water? If water drains toward the house, re-grading the yard so that proper shedding of water is possible.
Roof, siding, and deck and porches. Examine the roof (or have professional do so) for missing or damaged shingles. You will want to look for nails that have backed out and if the nails on the ridge cap shingle are sealed. Look at the gutters and downspouts, do they require cleaning? Are the downspout extensions attached and not damaged? As we examine the siding, are there any areas of softness or deterioration or rotting that needs to be addressed? How does the caulking look around doors and windows? Is it cracked or deteriorated? Does it need to be replaced? Are all steps and handrails secure and solid? What condition are the deck boards in? Also, check that all the exterior outlets have proper exterior enclosures and that they all functioning properly.
Yard, water, and bugs. Take a walk around your property and make sure it is clean and presentable. Your buyer looks at hard costs, but also at the soft costs of clean up and ease of possession as well. Do we see and evidence of termites or wood destroying organisms that need to be eradicated? Are any of the hose bibs leaking and do they need to be switched to anti-siphon hose bibs? If you have a sprinkler system, does the back flow preventer leak? (Technically the sprinkler system and all components are excluded in the scope of work form a home inspection, but most inspectors will add any leaking pipes in the report)
As we move to the garage, there are only a few items that will we want give attention to. Does the automatic reverse on the opener work properly? Do the IR sensors operate correctly? Walk around the garage and examine the foundation for termite tubes. Move items away from the wall to allow easy access for the inspector. Check the sheetrock or drywall for damage that will require repair.
Inside Your Home
Go around and ensure all windows operate correctly and that they lock properly. Also, do they stay open on their own? Are any broken or are any of the seals broken? Are all the screens in place or available, do they need repair?
Walk through the house and inspect all the walls and ceilings for damage that will require repair. Especially be aware of where door knobs may damage a wall. If we have a ceiling fan, run it through all the speed cycles and look for wobbling or if they are out of balance. Do any light bulbs need to be replaced? Is the carpet clean?
Does the carpet have wrinkles in it, does it need to be stretched?
Kitchen and bathrooms. If there is one area of concentration that we need to be acutely aware of it is definitely your kitchen and bathroom. Here are a few items to look at and remedy if needed.
Do any of the sinks or sink drains leak? Look for evidence of a leak. Fill the sinks up as full as they will go and then drain them. This will help to see if you have a leak in the sink itself or in the drain pipes. Run the garbage disposal and the dishwasher, is there any excessive vibrating or is it loud? Turn on the water and determine if the aerator needs to be replaced. Do any of the faucets leak? Examine the counters and backsplashes for deteriorated caulking that needs to be replaced or repaired. Work every cabinet drawer and door. Do any stick or rub or work incorrectly?
The laundry is another area that we should give attention to as well. What condition are the supply hoses to the washer appear to be in? Are they cracked or leaking? Repair as needed.
The water heater also should be examined. Is there any corrosion on any of the pipes? Is there a TPR valve pipe installed? High up on the side of the water heater, there will be a valve (generally copper). That valve should have a drain pipe installed on it. Is there corrosion on the bottom of the water heater.
Finally, if you feel comfortable doing so, take a look at the electrical panel (do not remove the front of the panel unless you are trained to do so). Open the front of the panel. Are all breaker identified as to what they are dedicated to? Are there any missing knockouts exposing the inside of the panel? Are any breakers missing or tripped? Test the GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupt) and AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupt) breakers for proper function.
Ready For the Inspection
We want your home to sell as fast as it can. And there are things you can do to help make that quicker and easier. Below is a checklist based on the items we discussed above. After walking through all the items we will be more prepared for the buyer’s inspection. It will also prepare you for the inspection before you purchase your new home as well.
As we work through these items, remember that safety should be vitally important to us. All too often we do things at home we would never do on a job site or at work. But, really safety should be a concern to all of us all the time. Our life is precious, not just to us, but to those who love us as well. 18,000 Americans die each year from accidents in their homes. We should always know our limits and be safe.
Sellers Pre-Inspection Checklist
By Strouse Home Inspections 4-5-2017