What to Know About Home Inspections
When you are selling your house, a home inspection can be a worrying time. Will there be major problems found with your home, or are there going to be expensive repairs required? These issues could lead to the sale falling through and the buyer getting their house deposit or earnest money back.
An inspection of a house normally finds some things wrong even when the home is very new. The saying no home is perfect, frankly, is true. Lots of people think of a home inspection in terms of pass or fail but that is not the case.
Let's look at what happens when you have a home inspection, and what you can do to increase your chances of a successful outcome. Understanding how a home inspection works isn't difficult but certainly worth knowing.
The Home Inspection Process
When you have accepted an offer from a buyer, they will usually want to have your home inspected before they continue with the sale. There are likely to be contingencies that allow the buyer to walk away from the deal if they don't like the results of the inspection.
Home inspections typically take a couple of hours for a normal-sized home. The home inspection report can take a couple of days to be completed before you find out the results, however many inspectors have gone digital which has sped up the team for receipt.
The home inspector will look through the interior, and check the outside of the home to find any defects. They have a list of items they will check during the process. The priority for the inspector is looking for safety issues present in the home, followed by major defects.
The main areas of concern for the home inspector are the following:
- Structural defects
- Roof damage
- Signs of water leaks
- Plumbing faults
- Pest infestation
- Electrical system damage
- Problems with HVAC
- Other general concerns
Home inspectors aren't concerned over problems with the home that are purely cosmetic. If there is some peeling wallpaper, the inspector isn't going to mention it in their report as a significant issue unless the cause is water leaking into the room or pests.
If the purchaser requests that the seller repairs very minor issues, or wants to reduce the price based on problems that are easy fixes, that may not be fair. Anything that is highlighted in the home inspection report should only be serious problems. They might also mention more minor issues, but these shouldn't overly concern the buyer.
Getting Your Home Ready for an Inspection
When the home inspector visits your home, they will very carefully look for problems. You can help the home inspector and improve your chances of getting a fair report if you prepare a few things in advance.
Make Things Easy for the Inspector
Make sure the home inspector can easily access your attic and crawl spaces. Provide keys to any doors that are normally locked, and open electrical panels. Have receipts for maintenance work you've had done, ready for the inspector to read. Clear out any clutter that could restrict their access to parts of your home, and also make sure any pets that could be a problem are out of the way.
A list of the ages of major components in the house such as the roof, heating/cooling systems, plumbing, and electrical upgrades is always helpful information for an inspector.
Fix Known Problems
If there are things wrong with the home that you know need to be solved, get them repaired first. You can't really expect the home inspector to miss anything, and trying to hide things that are wrong could lead to legal problems if they aren't discovered during the inspection. Replace any lightbulbs or cracked windows, and change HVAC filters to make sure everything is working properly.
If you are selling a property that would be considered a first-time buyer home, it is even more vital. Some first-time buyers are squeamish when it comes to problems. They have never gone through the home buying process before so they could get spooked by things that should only be of minor concern.
Your home can go from being marked contingent to back on the market in the blink of an eye if you're not careful.
Cut back any branches or bushes that are in contact with the house, and move dirt away from the foundations. These things can lead to damage or water getting into the home and are simple fixes.
Trim the grass and make the home presentable. Though the inspector isn't looking at cosmetic issues, it doesn't hurt to make a good impression. If the home looks like it's in a bad condition, the home inspector may assume there are problems to be found.
You want the home inspector to be thinking "pride of ownership" not a "horror house".
Who Attends The Home Inspection?
The likely attendees at a home inspection are the buyer, the home inspector, the buyer's agent, and possibly the seller's agent depending on the custom of the area in which you reside. The seller is typically not allowed at the inspection. While it is not always common for the seller's agent to attend, it is not a bad idea. A seller should have representation just as much as a buyer should during all phases of a home sale including the inspection.
Buyers are usually the ones hiring home inspectors, but sellers can do it too. There are some advantages to having a home inspection carried if you are the seller.
It will show you if there are any issues you need to address before the buyer's inspection points them out, allowing you to get ahead of any potential sticking points. This increases the chances of your sale progressing more smoothly.
It will give buyers more confidence in your home. This could mean that they don't feel the need to commission their own home inspection, trusting that your inspection report is genuine. Often they will still require their own inspection, though if they do, you might not have to worry about the result.
The Disadvantages of a Pre-listing Inspection
There can be situations where a pre-listing inspection is ill-advised. Your inspection might discover something that the buyer's inspection would have missed. Though if you have the inspection, you are usually legally required to disclose the results to potential buyers if you are located in a disclosure state.
While you might imagine inspectors would all discover the same things, it may not be the case. Having a pre-listing inspection could end up being costly if things don't go your way. In really hot real estate markets that favor sellers, it is possible that a buyer may waive their rights to a home inspection. They do this as a carrot to get their offer accepted. Of course, in some instances when a home isn't in great shape this is a major perk.
Keep in mind that lots of home sales fall apart at the home inspection. Finding a buyer that is skipping the home inspection is a major win.
Final Thoughts on How a Home Inspection Works
A home inspection is one of the most common stages of buying and selling a house. It is something you should take seriously if you want to proceed to the next phase of the real estate transaction. Common home inspection mistakes could cause your home to come back on the market. This is obviously something you will want to avoid.
Hopefully, you have enjoyed these tips on how to navigate through the home inspection process.