When selling your home, there are many processes and procedures. However, one of the most important is the home inspection. The majority of home buyers will hire an inspector before closing on a new house. The inspection results are essential for the negotiating process and for ensuring high value on the home.
The inspection process can be a little worrisome to the seller. The inspector will spend a few days walking around the interior and exterior of the home, looking through documents of repairs, and running tests to make sure your home is in tip-top shape.
The inspection can often bring up unpleasantries that you didn’t know existed, the worst of which could be lead paint or asbestos, which you’re required to remove. It could take months to resolve these issues, slowing down the sale significantly.
You could wait with baited breath, praying that there’s nothing wrong with the home you’re trying to sell. Or, you could take matters into your own hands. Understanding how the home inspection works and some of the things you can do to improve it can positively influence the outcome, saving you time and money in the long run.
The Inspector’s Agenda
According to experts in the industry, most home inspectors use a list of 33 criteria to determine the health and condition of a home. They can be small things, like standing water surrounding the house or proper grading drainage away from the structure. Or, they could be major structural problems like cracks in the foundation or rotten siding. You can find a full list of the inspector’s criteria online.
Small defects in the house won’t have a huge influence on your pricing or ability to close a deal, but large problems will set you back significantly. If you want to be prepared and make sure your home is in good condition, here are some of the most common things that fail on a home inspector’s list.
Water Damage: Water damage causes mold and mildew, which can be dangerous. They’ll also wear away at the structure of the home, and repairing the damage isn’t cheap.
Defective Plumbing: This may come in the form of leaky or clogged pipes. Both are bad news for your home. The repairs cost thousands, and the buyer won’t be thrilled about a home with potential water damage.
Improper Wiring or Electrical: Many homes, especially older ones, will have wiring and electrical problems that are not up to code. This could be the result of DIY efforts, or the wiring could have been installed before certain fire codes were mandated. Either way, it’s a fire hazard that will need fixed.
Roof and Siding Problems: Water can easily leak into your home through old or damaged rooftops and siding. It’s also a weak spot for pests, causing even more problems. If one or both of these entities needs repaired, the sum could be over $10,000.
Damp Attic Spaces: If there’s a leak or improper ventilation in the attic, it could lead to mold, mildew, and rotting insulation that wears away at the structure of the house.
Inefficient HVAC Systems: This criterion has become more important, as of late, since home buyers prioritize affordable heating and cooling costs. Aside from the efficiency aspect, broken heating and cooling elements can be a safety hazard for homebuyers.
Drug Testing: Some states require that your home be tested for drugs before being sold. The biggest concern is that your house may have once been a meth lab, which can leave behind harmful chemicals and deadly toxins for the residents. This is a fairly new test, so it may not have been done if you bought your house more than 10 years ago, but it will often be required for newer home purchases.
Getting Your Home Ready for the Inspector
Once you understand the inspector’s agenda, you can better prepare for his/her arrival. Most importantly, you can make the inspection as simple as possible. The inspector is an unbiased third party, but if your home is clean and ready to go, it will leave a better impression.
Start with a thorough cleaning – dust in hard-to-reach places and remove clutter that could obstruct the inspection. While you’re cleaning, make any minor repairs necessary.
Next, unlock doors. This includes offering easy access to your attic so the inspector can get in and out as quickly as possible. The inspector must have access to the entire house, and failing to grant that will slow down this lengthy process.
After you’ve cleaned and opened everything up, get out of the inspector’s way. Try to leave about an hour before the scheduled inspection time in case he/she arrives early to set things up.
Last, but not least, take care of any known defects to the house before his/her arrival. Don’t try to hide these problems, hoping the inspector won’t notice. If you can’t have things repaired before the inspector comes, provide a list of known defects for convenience.
Your Options for Poor Home Inspection Results
Most homes have a few minor problems. That doesn’t mean you failed the inspection – however, the buyer can definitely use the results in negotiations for a lower asking price. You have options at this point, but they’re largely dependent on the inspection results and your primary goals.
First and foremost, unless you’ve signed a contract saying you’re responsible for repairs, you’re under no obligation to fix any issues that arise during the inspection. If you refuse to make any repairs without lowering the asking price, the buyer may reconsider and make a more reasonable offer.
If the buyer won’t agree to those terms, you can reconsider and accept their original offer, or you can move on to the next buyer. If you’re not in any hurry to sell the home, and you feel the buyer made a low-ball offer, waiting for a better deal may be wise.
The choice is ultimately yours, and you may be right in standing your ground on a given issue. Just remember to be realistic, and don’t try to get more out of the house than it’s worth. If the buyer makes a valid offer based on serious structural issues, it may be in your best interest to take it because a better offer may not come along.
Your real estate agent can also offer advice on the issue. They have more experience with negotiations and have a more pragmatic grasp on the situation.
Let Green Residential Help You Sell Your Home
Green Residential is a flat-fee realty company that will help you save money and get the best deal. We know the ins and outs of home inspections and negotiations and can guide you in this process. For more information about our services, contact us today!