Home Inspection Tips for Sellers
Ah, the much-vaunted home inspection. While it’s practically mandatory in today’s home-selling climate, that doesn’t mean it comes without stress. We’ve pulled together a few thoughts on making the whole process just a little bit easier.
How Do I Prepare?
As a seller, you can make things far easier for yourself by getting thoroughly prepared for a home inspection. While this will take a little advance legwork on your part, it will also save you effort down the road – and positively affect your bottom line.
Home Inspection Checklist
Let’s list the steps you need to take to get prepared:
- Clean the house. We’re talking as sparkling as possible. Clean houses give the impression that your place has been well-maintained, which of course reflects well on the inspection results. (See Clean Up Your Act: Get Your Home Ready to Sell.)
- Move the necessary furniture and other items to give room to work around water heaters and the furnace.
- Be on time. The inspector almost certainly will be.
- Keep your pilot lights ignited and your utilities connected.
- Clear away any brush from exterior inspection areas.
- Expect the process to take at least three hours.
- Provide repair documents.
- Remember to leave the keys for any outbuildings or lockboxes.
Anything you can do to make an inspector’s job easier will be greatly appreciated and hopefully reflect well on your inspection report. In return, your home sale will become that much easier and possibly even more lucrative.
Prior to inspection, pull out any previous inspection paperwork, the more recent the better. It’s almost like a cheat sheet of any unaddressed issues – things to repair before the inspector shows up.
Tackle Minor Repairs
Unless you are a ghost, chances are you’ve created some damage in your home over the years. It’s fine – here’s where you’ve got to let go of your pride just a little bit and let your agent give you the lowdown on the minor (and maybe not-so-minor) repairs necessary to make your home shine.
Here are some of the repairs your agent may advise you to make:
- Exterior: this may require some sprucing up in order to maximize curb appeal. Consider new landscaping, repainting the front door or trim, and replacing missing fence boards. (You may want to read How to Attract More Buyers by Increasing Curb Appeal.)
- Interior Paint: the word on the wallpaper is dated. Remove it and get out those rolling brushes. If you’ve got dark, dirty, or chipped paint, that’s got to go as well. (You may want to read How Paint Color Can Affect Your Home’s Value.)
- Kitchen: buyers love new kitchens. You may not be able to afford a complete remodel, but you can work with what you’ve got and made it shine. It may not end up being featured on the Food Network, but replacing dingy surfaces or faulty appliances will make a huge difference.
- Lighting: you can make your home seem far more open and inviting with the right lighting tricks. Ask your agent for ideas here. (Or check out To Sell Your Home, Get The Lighting Right.)
- Do a pre-sale inspection. Be proactive. Identify issues that may need repair before any buyer sees them, and you’ll reap the benefits.
Your agent will prove invaluable – they can give you an unbiased opinion as to what needs repair and replacement. You’re well-advised to listen.
What If The Inspector Finds Work To Be Done?
First off, it’s not the end of the world. Few homes are without flaws. It does, however, open up the specter of further negotiations. A few things to keep in mind:
- Buyers don’t need to ask for the repairs to be done outright. Instead, they can request credits for the work that needs to be done and complete the job themselves.
- It helps to get proactive. Talk to your agent and start planning your own negotiation strategy. Then start to do your own research, particularly on the big-ticket items. It’s possible that you can negotiate with the shops you trust, resulting in a lower cost and a win-win situation.
- Keep the drama to a minimum. This is a business transaction. Yes, it’s your home, but it’s still business. Don’t lose your temper or throw a fit in any way. You’ll lose ground and in so doing, give up your control of the deal.
If you can show the buyer that the repairs are not as costly as they might have initially thought, negotiations can proceed with cooler heads on either side, which benefits everyone.
How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?
The cost of a home inspection will vary according to the size of your home, and where you live. Expect to pay at least $200 on the end, and probably $400-$500 on the high end.