Ha! The dreaded home inspection! A little mold is normal in a 30-year-old house, right? How do I know what sort of faucet the new owners will want? Can they not replace the leaky one themselves when they get here?
Selling a home is a bit like revealing family secrets. As honest as we are, we hope the little details will go unnoticed as long as we just avoid the topic. A good rule of thumb is to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. As a buyer, you’d want your money’s worth and you would be devastated to discover costly structural or safety issues after you have moved in.
Another good rule of thumb is to be upfront and flexible about any repair or upgrade you have not been able to complete. You may choose to lower the price of your property or give the buyer an allowance to make repairs after closing. In both cases, however, necessary repairs must be clearly identified, understood and appraised.
Selling a home is exciting and scary. You are afraid of delays, of losing money or losing the potential buyer altogether. Do not despair; prepare.
Making proper repairs prior to the home inspection will greatly improve the chances for smooth sailing and a clear path to the finish line for both you and the buyer. Begin by considering the following hot spots.
Plumbing: Rivers and raging waterfalls begin with the trickle of a few drops. Fix leaks. The inspector will check water pressure, run the dishwasher and inspect the septic system.
Damp Basements or Crawlspaces: Most foundation leaks are due to poor drainage. Clean gutters. Make sure drain spouts are pointing away from the foundation. Flood buried drainage lines with a hose. If the water spills out toward you, the lines are clogged.
Mold & Mildew: It does not need to be visible. Anyone who comes from a mold-free environment is likely to notice the presence of mold the moment they take a first breath. People are increasingly concerned about the health hazards of mold. Get rid of it.
Roof & Chimney: Outside structures are the first to be noticed. Ensure bricks and mortar are in good condition and that flashing around the chimney is watertight. Also inspect and clean the fireplace and/or furnace.
Electrical Systems: The inspector will look for receptacles that are not wired properly or not up to code (codes may vary per state/municipality). Remember Benjamin Franklin’s kite and key experiment? Well, do not try this at home. Electricity needs but the slightest path to unleash its powers. Also, appliances that will stay with the house, including smoke detectors, must be in good working order.
You get the picture. Home inspection focuses on safety, structural and health hazards. This includes examples provided above and extends to features such as fences around pools, egress windows, railing on the porch and so on.
A final word to the wise: The home inspector’s report is not a wish list and the home inspector is not a monster. In fact, he may be one of your best allies!