You’re selling your home and the home inspection is scheduled. What should you do? Replace all your appliances? Have your furnace cleaned? Hire your own inspector to do inspect your home first? The correct answer is stop. Take a deep breath. Relax. And read on.
Few things can strike terror into the heart of the home seller like the dreaded home inspection. Horror stories abound of deals ruined by home inspections that found all manner of problems. But the truth is, a home inspection should simply be a confirmation of what’s already known and disclosed by the seller. Here are five ways to prepare – mentally and physically – for an inspection of the home you’re selling.
1. Disclose Problems and Price Your Home Based On Those Disclosures
You’ve done the right thing and disclosed the fact that your furnace is on its last legs. But when it comes time to price the house, you and your broker ignore the fact that a $10,000 replacement will probably be necessary in the near future. This might seem like a good idea in a hot market where inventory is low, but keep in mind; once under contract it is no fun negotiating high-ticket items. Price your home to reflect needed major repairs, and make potential buyers aware of the fact that you have priced your home with those repairs in mind.
2. Don’t Lipstick The Pig
A room with scars, holes and other imperfections in the drywall and/or woodwork is not made better by a coat of cheap paint slapped on just prior to listing. (Or expensive paint for that matter!) Nor is a floor with broken asbestos tiles or outdated linoleum improved by throwing down cheap box-store stick-down tiles. In most cases, “improvements” made to cover up problems are worse than just leaving the problems to be seen. A “cover up” repair doesn’t fool anyone, and in the worst case, it could make a potential buyer wonder what else you’re trying to hide. An imperfection you don’t have the time and/or money to fix should be left as-is, not hastily “hidden.”
3. Don’t Ask for Trouble
The buyers of your home are doing an inspection for a reason; to find any undisclosed or unknown issues. Unless you have reason to suspect major trouble with some element of the home you’re selling, don’t hire someone to go for looking for problems prior to an inspection. An unscrupulous “expert” hired by you to “check out” your furnace prior to a home inspection may deem the furnace DOA in hopes of getting a big payday for a furnace installation, whether the furnace really needs to be replaced or not. So now, you’ve paid for an inspection, and chances are good you’ll be paying for a furnace (that you may or may not need). Remember, once you know about a problem, you must disclose it to your buyers. I’m in no way suggesting you should hide anything, ever. Just let the buyer’s inspector look for problems. If they’re there, he or she will find them.
4. Ask Your Agent to Be There!
I go to every inspection performed on homes on which I’m the listing agent. Sometimes it seems odd to the buyers and their agent that I am there, but there’s a very good reason for my presence: To hear what the inspector actually says. Remember, buying a home is an emotional experience. Sometimes when an inspector says, “At some point, you may want to insulate the attic access door to reduce heat loss,” what the buyer hears is “This house is poorly insulated and you should demand a heat-loss analysis and thousands of dollars in blown-in insulation.” Everyone “hears” an inspector’s comments differently. As the seller, you should ask your agent to be at your home’s inspection so that he or she knows exactly what was said so that when it comes to negotiating repairs, the issues are crystal clear.
5. Understand The Purpose of The Inspection And Decide Your Limits
There are agents who believe that inspections are another opportunity to negotiate on behalf of their clients, regardless of what inspections uncover. I have had buyers request light bulb replacement, demand monetary concessions for painting over an ugly purple wall, and ask for allowance for installation of a toilet in a basement to make the most of a planned “man room.” These requests are not the purpose of an inspection; or at least they shouldn’t be. However, as irritating as these types of requests can be, sometimes it’s best to just get them done to keep the transaction moving. (Purple wall repainted? Yes! Toilet installation? No!) This is a discussion best had with your agent and of course will depend totally upon the situation.
The long and short of inspections? Unless you’re hiding something (which you shouldn’t be), inspections are no big deal. They’re a part of a multi-step process that your agent should walk you through on the journey to getting your home sold.