When you’re ready to sell your home, you’ve already put in the hard work to get it ready for showings – fresh paint, trimmed hedges and a few smart upgrades to boost curb appeal are in the books. Your home has never looked better, and you’re even halfway through packing and ready to hit the road, just as soon as your buyer signs on the dotted line.
The one remaining hurdle to clear? The home inspection.
Even the most gung-ho buyer will want to have a professional home inspector walk through your house and take a good, hard look at what makes it tick. Buyers using a federal mortgage program like Fannie Mae are required by their lenders to pass an inspection before they can borrow the money needed to purchase the home. And even buyers with conventional mortgages want to know what they’re getting into before sealing the deal.
Home inspections are a necessary part of the process of selling your house, but there’s no need to panic. The key to passing a home inspection is being open and honest with your inspector, and there are some tips and tricks you can do to make the whole process quicker and easier for everyone. Follow these eight tips, and you’ll pass your next home inspection like a champ!
1. Work Ahead
Double check the little things to make sure your home is ready for its close-up. Your inspector won’t care much about cosmetics, but safety is important. Make sure all light bulbs are working, both inside and out. Good lighting is important for safety, and you’ll avoid unnecessary questions about your electrical outlets or circuitry when everything is working properly. You should also be sure to clear all pathways of debris. If necessary, shovel snow, melt ice and secure any loose floorboards or carpets before the day of your inspection.
The experts from Pillar To Post, a home inspection company and partner of FirstService Residential, also recommend asking about additional services that may affect your home depending on your region. These services might include radon testing, mold and air quality testing, pool and spa inspections, rodent inspections and more. Confirm that your inspector can perform these tests ahead of time.
2. Provide Easy Access
While you’re giving your house a good once-over for safety, make sure that the inspector has easy access to all areas of the house. Unlock the garage, remove obstacles from the attic stairwell and have a ladder handy for getting into crawl spaces or other hard-to-reach areas. When you make the inspector’s job easier, he or she will be less likely to look for reasons to ding you on the report.
3. Empty Appliances
The home inspector will want to test everything that’s coming along in the sale. Be sure to empty your dishwasher, stove, washer and dryer for the big day. Of course it’s ok to keep food in the fridge, though it’s helpful to make sure that it’s not so packed that the buttons and temperature controls are obscured. While you’re at it, make sure your HVAC systems are easy to reach and operate.
4. Be Honest
Though you’ve spent the last few months putting your home’s best foot forward for buyers, the inspection is not the time to gloss over any problems you already know about. It’s best to be open and upfront about the age of the roof, any past damage (like flood or fire), problems with internal systems like the A/C or the furnace, and any other issues that could come up. Your odds of fooling an inspector are slim to none, and you’ll make everyone’s life easier by just being honest. Remember, no house is perfect, and you don’t know what your buyer’s deal breakers are.
5. Dig Up Documents
If you have maintenance records for any of your home’s systems or major appliances, locate that paperwork and have it available during the inspection. The same goes for any warranties on recent purchases or construction. For example, if you have had the roof replaced and it’s still under warranty, the inspector and buyer will want to know. Invoices for repairs or improvements are also helpful.
6. A Word About Permits
If you’ve had work done on your home since you’ve lived there, your contractor may have had to pull a permit with your local authorities to legally complete the work. Your city or town has these on record, and it’s worthwhile to secure a copy to share before your home inspection. A permit documents that all work was officially inspected, which is important for buyers to know. If you didn’t pull a permit for work you had done (or did yourself), it’s best to explain that now.
7. Pick Up Clutter
Right before your inspection, take one last look around your house and pick up the clutter of daily living. It’s especially important to remove items from under sinks so that the inspector can get a good look at the plumbing. You should also clear the area around electrical panels, water meters and any other infrastructure that’s important to your home’s operations.
8. Get Out Of Dodge
In general, it’s a good idea to plan to leave your house during the inspection. A thorough home inspection takes about three full hours to complete, so you should plan to be away for at least that long. Make arrangements to take your pets with you so they aren’t getting the way (or worse, irritating an inspector with allergies). You should also lock up any valuables as an added precaution while relative strangers are accessing your home.
Once your house is ready for its inspection, all you have to do is wait to hear the results. If your buyers have concerns, try not to get defensive. Instead, listen to their points and decide if you can live with a few small investments in addressing issues in order to make the sale. The home inspector’s report is a document that should help everyone come to a reasonable agreement.
Remember, even if the home inspector does see certain defects this does not automatically mean the onus is on you to fix them. As long as you and the buyer are aware of the issue, and you’re proactive in providing cost estimates, you can leave it up to the buyer to fix it and replace to their own tastes and preferences.
Following these tips will put you in the best possible position to pass your inspection without hassle, and you’ll be on your way to your new abode before you know it!