Preparing for your home's inspection
Great news, Seller, we are under contract!
Sometimes the negotiations to get to this point can be "hairy," leaving sellers feeling adversarial towards their buyers. Keep in mind, this is a good day. Your buyers like your house so much they are willing to spend good money to make your house their home. They want your home, and you want them to have it. Keep positive through this process--we all have the same goal.
One of the first things that will happen once we are under contract is your buyer will do an inspection of your home. You can help yourself have a smooth inspection by preparing a little in advance.
A colleague in California, Elizabeth Weintraub, wrote an excellent article about this. Many are her ideas:
Clean the house
This sounds so simple, yet home owners often overlook this tactic. Home inspectors are people first and inspectors second. As people, they carry preconceived ideas of how well a home has been maintained. Clean homes say you care and take care of the house. It's a good idea to make a good impression. Don't make the mistake of thinking they can see past stuff; they can't.
Be ready on time
Sometimes, home inspectors are early. If an inspector makes an appointment with you for 9:00 a.m., have the house ready for inspection at 8:30. It's also common for inspectors to start on the exterior of the home, so leave the shades down or drapes drawn until you are dressed. More than one unprepared seller has been "surprised" by a stranger stomping around in the back yard.
Leave the utilities on
If your home is vacant, make sure your utilities are still on. If you home has been winterized, let's talk to make sure your water is back on for the inspection. This can cause a delay in your closing if the inspector gets there and can't test the plumbing or electricity.
Empty your dishwasher, washer/dryer
The home inspector will need to turn on the stove, run the dishwasher, the washer and the dryer. It makes everyone more comfortable if these are empty--no one wants to work around your dirty clothes.
Provide workspace in utility room
Remove boxes, bookcases, furniture and anything else blocking access to your furnace and water heater. The inspector will need three to four feet of working space to inspect these items.
They often will not move anything themselves but if they don't have access, an inspector might suggest a specialist to the buyer. Buyers will often then require the seller to hire a professional at their expense to confirm these items are in working condition.
You may also want to put in a fresh furnace filter.
Make sure your pilot light is lit
Many home inspectors will refuse to light pilot lights because the inspector does not carry enough insurance to be covered for that type of liability / risk. If your pilot lights are not lit, then important items such as the water heater, gas stove or furnace will not be inspected and the buyer could delay closing until those inspections are completed.
Provide easy access to attic & basement
The inspector will need to get into your basement and/or attic as well, so keep a path cleared. Check for water in the basement. Move all boxes and stored items away from the walls by at least two feet. Vacuum spider webs. Look in the attic for possible rodent droppings (and remove them, obviously.)
Leave garage door clickers accessible
The inspector will need to get into the garage, so make sure there are keys or garage door openers easily accessible. If there is an attic in the garage, make sure access is not blocked by a car.
The small things
Make sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Check your doorbell. Open any windows that have been closed for a long time. Replace burned out light bulbs.
Plan to be out of the house for 3 hours
You should not be home during the inspection. Crate your pets if you cannot remove them from the premises. Many inspections can take up to 3 hours to complete.
In our area, it is common for the buyer to perform a radon test. The buyer's inspector may install the radon test, or contract a separate company to perform the test. The testing company will install a small monitor, maybe two monitors, in parts of your home. They will leave notices around the house that you should keep your thermostat at a particular setting, that your fireplace damper should be closed, and that you should not open your windows. (Normal entry and exit through your doors is okay.) The test runs for 48 hours and they will arrange a time to pick the monitors back up. The process to pick up the monitors only takes a few minutes and you do not have to be home for it to be retrieved. We will arrange for the pick up.
What buyers do during their inspection
The buyer's agent will attend the inspection. Most buyers will go as well. Do not be surprised if the buyer brings multiple family members to your house during the inspection. They are excited to show off the home to parents or friends. They may also bring in contractors for estimates for carpeting, paint, etc. This is their time in your home to complete a series of tasks to make them feel comfortable purchasing your home. The more pleasant you make this experience the better.
Some sellers will leave a note for the buyer welcoming them to the home, or maybe some brochures about the area, or original building plans. These little touches can go a long way to making the buyer feel good about purchasing your home.
After the Inspection
The buyer will review the inspection report with their agent and attorney. They will need to decide if there is anything that is not working or not safe that must be addressed prior to closing.
Your attorney will send a formal letter to you to review their requests. Some requests are reasonable and you should repair them. Other requests are cosmetic in nature. Sometimes a buyer is just asking for clarification (for example, "We noticed a dark spot on the ceiling--what is that?"). Be prepared to provide answers and documentation about the age/service history of certain items like the roof or furnace.
The buyer may also ask the seller to pay for further inspections, for example on the furnace. Discuss this with me and your attorney.
Repair items and have the proof
Depending on what you agree to do, make sure you have the items completed in a timely fashion according to the terms you agree to. The buyer may want to come out and "re-inspect" certain things, or they may just want the paperwork, receipts at closing. But, don't wait...make those repairs ASAP to prevent a delay in closing.
If you need recommendations for contractors or vendors, let me know.
Like every aspect of the pending period, communication is key. A positive attitude and a willingness to work together will get us all to the closing table.