Home inspection. It can feel invasive. But home inspections are designed to uncover issues about your property that you may not know, and they’re a necessary part of any home sale.
When you bought your home, the home inspection served to protect you. But now the tables have turned, and you’re in the hot seat. The issues brought to light will be your responsibility to fix or a basis on which to negotiate with the potential buyer.
Let’s focus on the good. Unless you’re conducting a pre-inspection, the fact that you’re looking at a home inspection means that a potential buyer made an offer on the property. And that means that you’re one step closer to selling your home!
What Military Home Sellers Should Know About Home Inspections
What is a Home Inspection?
"A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation." — American Society of Home Inspectors
You wouldn't expect the buyer to take your word that the plumbing is perfect and the foundation isn’t going to cost them thousands to fix. So there's a home inspection—the step in the home sale process designed to let buyers know what they’re getting into and lenders the opportunity to protect their money.
Consider a Pre-Inspection
Just like it sounds, a “pre-inspection” takes place before you list your home on the market. It can be a great step to take if you want to sell and close on your home quickly.
With potential problems aired early in the process, you’re able to address necessary repairs and make your home even more attractive to house hunters.
“Updating the house to the best of your budget’s ability is a key component to a seller’s negotiation tactics. Presenting an updated, move-in-ready house is a huge enticement for buyers.” -Dawn Smith, Should You Have a Home Inspection?
Ultimately, this effort communicates to potential buyers that you are thorough, transparent, and care for your property.
But as useful as a pre-inspection could be, there are risks to consider. Even if you do a pre-inspection, the buyer will likely coordinate their own inspection before closing. You could end up making unnecessary repairs before that or find that you pay to fix things that the buyer might be willing to pay for or accept with closing.
Related: 12 Repairs You Should Make Before Selling Your Home
What to Expect on Inspection Day
On inspection day, a home inspector will examine the exterior and interior of your property. During a buyer's inspection, it's recommended the homeowner, their agent, and any tenants leave so the home buyer can feel free to ask questions. Coordinate with your agent about best times and any concerns you have. The presence of the home seller could make the buyer feel uncomfortable.
What Home Inspectors Look For
A home inspector’s job is to ensure all systems are working correctly and to find anything hazardous that could affect the integrity of the property.
- Central HVAC
- Electrical systems
- Visible insulation
- Pest infestations
- Structural components
The checklist seems long, but a home inspector doesn’t care about cosmetic issues. Chipped paint or the dent in the wall isn’t something they’ll note— unless it poses a safety concern.
Related: 6 Home Upgrades You Can Skip When Selling Your Home
How to Prepare for a Home Inspection
Most of the burden falls on the shoulders of the home inspector, but there are a few things you can do to help the process along.
- Gather documents with proof of services conducted around the home and purchases of big ticket items like the A/C, roof repairs, appliances, etc.
- Eliminate clutter and make it easy for the inspector to move around.
- Replace air filters to avoid raising questions of air quality and potential concerns surrounding it like mold.
- Get rid of bugs.
- Replace broken windows.
- Trim trees that touch the roof to avoid concerns of roof damage caused by them.
- Ensure drains are clear of blockage and all faucets run.
- Leave keys for outside doors.
- Make sure the pilot light and utilities are on so the inspector can verify that everything is operating correctly.
- Pets should be removed from the home during the home inspection.
What Happens After the Inspection?
More than likely, your home inspection will bring to light issues that need fixing, some required in order to go forward with the home sale (building code violations or safety issues, for instance) and some that are negotiable.
For negotiable repairs, the buyer may accept a credit or reduced home price and agree to handle the repairs themselves.
Tips for Home Sellers During the Home Inspection
Be willing to negotiate on repairs.
Buyers may walk away and move on to another property if you’re unwilling to negotiate--even if you conducted a pre-inspection and made some repairs already. This could harm a future sale if house hunters learn that your home was under contract and the buyer pulled their offer.
Don’t try to cover up issues.
The saying is “honesty is the best policy,” and there’s no exception for it during a home inspection. If there’s an issue that you know of, don’t try to cover it up.
Offer your pre-inspection paperwork to potential buyers.
Transparency and proof that you took the time to cross your t’s and dot your i’s may help you gain the buyer’s trust and help the process move along. And since military families often have a short time-frame to make these things happen, a faster sale is almost always a good thing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a home inspection take?
The inspection itself usually takes two to four hours, but the whole process can take several days to process.
How much does a home inspection cost?
On average, an inspection will cost anywhere from $300 to $500, but you should verify the amount before inspection day.
Who pays for the inspection?
Typically, the buyer will pay for the “traditional” home inspection— the one after an offer is made. You, the seller, are responsible to pay for the pre-inspection if you choose to do one.
There’s no need to be intimidated by a home inspection. Remember, the inspection was crucial when you bought the property. Whether you negotiated and asked the seller to make the repairs or you bought it as-is, you needed to know what you were getting into, and this buyer feels the same way.
Offering preparedness, a little grace, and a smile can go a long way to making not just the home inspection go well, but the sale as a whole.
By Danielle Keech