A home sale is usually a stressful event for both buyers and sellers, but while a buyer’s stress is usually centered around the mortgage loan, for sellers, the source of stress is almost always about the home inspection. Most mortgage loans require an inspection in order to close — after all, the lender will want to make sure that the home is habitable and in good shape — and depending on the terms of the home sale contract, the homeowner might be on the hook to make (or pay for) any required repairs before the transaction can close.
As a seller it is wise to get a home inspection prior to listing your home. This way there are no surprises and you have the opportunity to make any needed repairs.
This list offers suggestions on how to prepare for an inspection, however these things should be taken in consideration as you prepare your home for the market.
An inspector will need easy access to your attic, basement, crawl space, electrical outlets, electrical panel, water heater. You’ll want to clean out/organize spaces like your attic, so that the inspector can maneuver easily.
Prepare Home Perimeter
The inspector will need to see your foundation and look for any potential drainage problems. Ensure you landscaping is trimmed, leaves removed etc. If you are aware of any places in your yard or near your home that puddle, you’ll want to take care of those areas before the inspection. Hire a contractor to examine your roof prior.
If your home is dirty, it could indicate to the inspector that you haven’t property maintained your home. Consider hiring someone to deep clean your home including baseboards, inside of your oven etc. You’ll also want to make sure your oven, dishwasher are empty. An inspector will often test these appliances.
Check Your Windows and Doors
Inspectors are going to check to see whether the windows and doors are operating properly (in other words, do they open and close?), and they’ll also check any weatherstripping. If you have a broken window or an issue with door, repair it prior to the inspection. This also includes your garage door.
The inspector will be checking faucets. Take care of any drips or handles that might not be working right. Check under your sinks to make sure there is no damage. If you’ve had any type of water damage that have left stains, make sure you first fix the leak and then paint.
Ceiling and Exhaust Fans
Both ceiling fans and built-in fans (like your kitchen hood) will be tested to make sure they’re in good working condition, so check them yourself before the inspector arrives to bypass any surprises. The hood fan in particular is an important one as a broken hood fan can be a smoke and fire hazard, so if there are any problems at all with its operation, fix them now.
Light Up Your House
It might seem or feel like overkill, but the inspector is absolutely going to check every light switch in the house to make sure it’s operating properly and get a sense for how the electrical system is connected. It’s time to do a quick roundup of every switch in your house so that you can label it (in case it connects to an outlet, a fan, or something else that’s not a light) and make sure the inspector can easily check all of your switches. It is also a great time to replace light bulbs.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Another obvious home feature that the inspector is going to spend some time examining includes smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Most of these devices (especially the newer ones) will beep or otherwise alert you if they’re running low on batteries or if they aren’t functioning properly, but it can’t hurt to double check them.
Label Fuse Box
The inspector will be spending some time taking a look at your fuse box to ensure it’s in good working order, and you can make their job easier and allow them to complete it more efficiently and effectively if you label it clearly before they get there.
Fix Broken Drawers, Cabinets
Sticky drawers and cabinet doors that don’t quite shut all the way aren’t usually a big deal — especially once you get used to them — but again, these are little things that inspectors will notice and that buyers might ask you to repair before they take ownership of the house.
Check Pilot Lights
Pilot and utility lights must be operational, and that’s something the inspector is going to check walking through the house. You don’t want to have to triple-check something as simple as a pilot light, so take a look at any pilot or utility lights yourself before you leave the house to make sure they’re burning and operational.
Provide Any Paperwork
If you have warranties or other paperwork (such as receipts for recent roofing work that’s been done), leave it out on the kitchen counter, dining room table, or somewhere else where it will be obvious and easy to spot. This will make the inspector’s job easier, and they’ll appreciate having the information they need to make a decision about what needs fixing and what’s in good shape.
Vacate and Take Your Pets
The buyer may want to walk around with the inspector to hear about any issues that might need fixing, and it’s absolutely understandable that sellers would also be tempted to listen in on the inspection and hear full explanations for any suggestions or mandates that the inspector is sharing.
You’ll also want to make sure that your home is pet-free, or at the very least that your pets are secured and can’t get out.
Be Prepared for Surprises
Even if you’ve taken a look at everything on this list and you’re certain your house is going to get a 100% passing grade from the inspector, it’s a good idea to scale back your expectations and swallow your pride a little bit before the inspection actually happens. It’s an inspector’s job to find anything — however small or insignificant — that could cause a bigger problem down the road, and it doesn’t mean you’re a sloppy or neglectful homeowner if they do find something that needs to be fixed.
As a home owner, the best thing you can do is repair and replace anything you are aware of prior to the inspection, and be willing to address any repairs brought to your attention.