Seller’s Home Inspection Tips

You’ve got a contract on your house, and you’re wondering about what to expect from a home inspection. If you’d like some home inspection tips for sellers, you’ve come to the right place, ‘cause that’s what we’re talking about today, and we’re starting right now!  My name is Harry Moore and I am a realtor in the Washington DC Metro Area and I post new videos every week about all things real estate in the DMV.

If you’d like to view my YouTube video on this topic, click the image below

Whew, you’ve got a contract on your house. Congratulations! Now you can relax, well…not quite yet. Once they have a contract, most people tend to lighten up a little. That’s natural, and I’m not saying that you need to keep your house “ show ready” but there are still a few more hurdles to overcome before you get to settlement.

In this episode of the series on home selling tips we’ll talk about the home inspection . For many sellers it can be almost as stressful as having their house on the market.Today I’ll share a list of some simple tactics that you can use to avoid potential issues and keep things moving along as smoothly and possible towards settlement.  

If you’d like some great tips on other parts of the home selling process, from thinking about curb appeal all the way to settlement, then click the link above, or check the notes below to access  other videos in the home selling series. Enough of that, let’s jump right in.

  1.)Try to keep the house looking tidy. It doesn’t have to be as spotless as you kept it when it was on the market, but don’t let it slide back to the way you live normally. Spend 15-30 minutes the morning of the home inspection cleaning it up a bit. Remember this will be the first time that the buyers have been in the house since the contract was accepted. They’ll be excited and a little nervous. You want them to be happy and feel reassured  when they walk in the door.

2.)People won’t be surprised if you’ve started packing, just try to keep the boxes away from the walls, especially in the basement and garage if you have one. Stack things neatly in the middle of the room. Inspectors are usually more interested in the stuff  that’s along the walls; plugs and pipes and such, so keeping your things towards the middle will enable them to see what they need to. This doesn’t mean you have to move furniture, just don’t have stacks of boxes backed right up against the walls.

3.)Keep the utility area clear of clutter and easily accessible- A lot of times people have all sorts of things stored around the furnace and hot water heater. Keeping those areas clear for the inspector so they can access those systems easily will keep the inspection moving along smoothly. Inspectors generally can’t move personal items for insurance and liability reasons. If they’re not able to access the major systems, then the issue of a reinspection could come up, and you’d rather avoid that if at all possible.

4.)Make sure that all appliances which convey with the house are plugged in and operating, so they can be tested. That includes things like fans on fireplace inserts, spare fridges or freezers and other things like that.

5.)This might  seem a little silly, but make sure you don’t have any burnt out lightbulbs, especially in hard to access light fixtures. It’ll keep the inspector from noting it in their report and suggesting an electrician come out to confirm the fixture is working.

6.)Make sure your toilets are functioning properly. Often people get used to the “personality” of their toilets when they live in the house, the fact that you have to jiggle the handle, or that it’s slow to refill…things like that.  But the inspector and the buyers won’t be. Sometimes there is a toilet that does not get much use, maybe in a basement bathroom. Check it and make sure it’s working.

7.)Change your HVAC air filter and dust off the return grills. Dirty filters are a sure sign of deferred maintenance, and that’s a big red flag for one of the more expensive systems in the house.

8.)Check the roof and gutters. Clogged gutters, or even worse gutters that have plants growing in them are not good. Also check the roof for fallen branches and other debris.

9.)Make sure that all keys and remotes are available and working, and that any out of the way places such as crawl spaces and sheds are easily accessible. It’s human nature to fear the unknown. If they can see everything the first time, they’ll feel better about the whole house.

10.)Provide any documentation for substantial upgrades, or repairs and major maintenance items so that the buyers and the inspector can see them. That will help them to understand what you’ve done to maintain your home. A classic example is if you’ve had major work done to your furnace. The inspector might look at the outside  of the unit and say that it looks old, but you might have replaced the heat exchanger or the condensor recently. That could influence their opinion about the remaining life of the unit.

Sometimes sellers want to be at the inspection. That’s generally not a good idea. The buyers want to feel comfortable in the house, and be able to talk openly with the inspector and their agent about questions they might have. It’s really very much like a showing. You want the buyers to feel at ease in the home. Remember you want them to feel like its theirs.  I suggest that sellers plan to be out of the house for about 3 hours during the inspection, sometimes more or less, but that’s a pretty good rule of thumb.

Here’s a little post inspection tip for you. Take a few minutes right when you get home after the inspection to check all the appliances, faucets, toilets and spigots and other systems to make sure that everything is in good order. You’ll  also probably have to re set your digital clocks on the microwave and your alarm clock, since they may have been testing circuits. Inspectors are professionals, but they’re human too, sometimes they forget things and it’s always better to nip those issues in the bud.

So, you’ve gotten some great tips about how to prepare for the home inspection. If you’ve sold a home before, do you have any tips and tricks that were helpful in preparing for your home inspection? If so, please share them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you and learn some new things that I can let future sellers know about.

Once the inspection has been finished there are a few different options, depending on the jurisdiction and the type of contingency that was negotiated.  In the next seller’s video we’ll talk about negotiating the home inspection contingency.