Will the seller back out? Am I being treated fairly? These are questions everyone asks, so you shouldn’t be alarmed.
You can’t choose things you can control, but there are certain facets of the process you can influence. In the guide below, we’ll explain what the home inspection process entails, how you can prepare your home for the inspection, and what to do if you get negative results.
The challenge of the home inspection process is that so much rides on the outcome. The seller is almost always biased; he or she believes the residence is in better condition than it probably is.
However, no buyer wants to purchase a house that has certain defects and issues. “There’s a huge psychological dynamic that happens in this whole process,” says David Tamny, certified home inspector.
“The buyers are making a big purchase and they’re obviously going through a whole host of emotions, and then you’ve got the inspector there, and it’s their job to deliver up to the buyer’s expectations. There could be problems the seller isn’t even aware of that could impact someone’s decision to buy the house.”
To give an idea of what the process looks like, here’s how home inspections tend to roll out:
• The buyer places an offer and the seller accepts.
• The buyer’s offer is likely to be contingent on the home passing a certified inspection.
• In most cases, the buyer’s lender will order the home inspection.
• The home inspector will set up a time with the seller that works for his or her schedule.
• The actual inspection lasts between three and four hours, and the inspector will examine both the interior and the exterior of the home.
• The inspector isn’t looking for perfection. Normal wear and tear is expected for any home that’s a few years old. What the inspector is looking for are serious issues that may affect the safety, functionality, or overall appearance of the home.
As a seller, you have only a limited number of things you can do to prepare for the inspection. Most of the preparation takes place in the years leading up to it; that is, how you treat and care for the home during the entire period you own it.
But there are certain steps you can take to ensure you don’t land a negative report. Absorb the following tips:
• Mold and mildew. If you know of any mold or mildew in your home — including the basement or crawlspace –by all means, take care of it. Inspectors are attracted to mold like an animals to prey. If they find it, mold will be a major issue down the road. Even if it gets fixed, the notion will stick with the seller and may cause him or her to revoke the offer. Spend whatever it costs to fix it, or be prepared to go back to the negotiation table with the potential buyers.
• Roof and chimney. Another serious problem area is the roof and chimney. If you know of deficiencies there, it’s better to take care of them prior to the home inspection. The inspector will look carefully at your fireplace, too, so it’s wise to stay on top of any issues there.
• Electrical problems. Inspectors don’t mess around with electrical problems. You can increase your chances of getting a favorable inspection by ensuring all light bulbs are working, no visible cords are hanging from light fixtures, and GFCI outlets have been installed in all areas near water (bathrooms, laundry rooms, garages, etc.).
• Plumbing issues. Are there any signs of leaks or water damage? Not only will the inspector look for stains or moisture, but he or she will also check your water pressure and drainage. If you have a septic tank, the inspector may flush dye down a toilet to see if there are any drainage issues.
• Clean the house. While having a dirty home won’t necessarily have a negative impact in an inspection report, it certainly won’t help your case. Cleaning your house prior to the inspection shows the inspector that you care for your home. If there are dirty dishes in the sink, dust may be found on the tables, and dirt turns up in the laundry room, that suggeststo the inspector that you may not have treated the structure well in other ways.
Getting negative results from a home inspection can be scary. If the results are bad, chances are the buyer will want to back out.
But it’s also possible that you’re overreacting. “Even if you’re surprised by the inspection findings, keep mum until the buyer has actually presented you with a request for repairs or a price reduction,” writes Tara-Nicholle Nelson of HGTV.com.
“You’d be surprised at how many buyers expect their home-to-be to require some elbow grease. They might not interpret the reports as negatively as you do.”
But more than likely, the buyer will want you to deal with the issues that were uncovered. The key here is to take control of the situation, rather than allow the buyer to gain the upper hand.
Go ahead and get multiple bids from contractors and specialists. By getting a range of prices, you may be able to show the buyer that the problem isn’t as expensive as he or she might be inclined to assume. It also intimates that the problem is indeed temporary, not permanent.
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