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Are you worried about a home inspection? It can feel invasive, but the selling process includes a home inspection to uncover issues about your property that you may not know about, 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 news—unless you’re conducting a pre-inspection, the fact that you’re preparing for a home inspection means a potential buyer made an offer, 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?
The American Society of Home Inspectors defines it:
"A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation."
You wouldn't expect the buyer to take your word that the plumbing is perfect and the foundation isn’t going to cost thousands to fix. But that’s what the home inspection is for—the step in the sale process that lets buyers know exactly what they’re buying and offers the 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. It’s a great tool to help you sell and close on your home quickly. If the inspectors find potential problems early in the process, you can address the 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.” -from the blog post, Should You Have a Home Inspection?
Ultimately, your effort communicates to potential buyers that you’re thorough, transparent, and care for your property.
As helpful as a pre-inspection could be, you should consider the risks. Even if you pay for a pre-inspection, the buyer will likely hire their own inspector before closing. You could make unnecessary repairs or fix things that the buyer might be willing to pay for or accept with closing.
Take a look at 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 that the homeowner, their agent, and any tenants leave so the home buyer can feel free to ask questions. Coordinate with your agent about the best times and any concerns you have.
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What Home Inspectors Look For
A home inspector’s job is to check all systems are working correctly and find anything hazardous that could affect the integrity of the property.
An inspection includes:
- Central HVAC
- Electrical systems
- Visible insulation
- Pest infestations
- Structural components
The checklist might seem long, but remember, a home inspector doesn’t care about cosmetic issues. So 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.
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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 receipts for big-ticket items like the A/C, roof repairs, and appliances.
- Eliminate clutter and make it easy for the inspector to move around.
- Replace air filters to avoid raising air quality questions and potential concerns surrounding them like mold.
- Get rid of bugs.
- Replace broken windows.
- Trim trees that touch the roof to avoid concerns of roof damage.
- Ensure drains are clear 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.
- Remove your pets from the house during the home inspection.
What Happens After the Inspection?
Your home inspection could expose issues that need repairing in order to go forward with the home sale (building code violations or safety issues, for instance) in addition to some fixes that are negotiable, like a new roof. The buyer may accept a credit or reduced home price for negotiable repairs and agree to handle the repairs themselves.
3 Tips for Home Sellers During the Home Inspection
1) Let the buyers know you’re willing to negotiate on repairs.
Buyers may walk away and move on to another property if you’re unwilling to negotiate, even if you had a pre-inspection and made some repairs.
2) Don’t try to cover up issues.
The saying “honesty is the best policy” holds in real estate, especially during a home inspection. If you know there’s an issue, don’t try to cover it up.
3) Offer your pre-inspection report 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 move the process along. Since military families often have a short time frame, a faster sale is almost always a good thing.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Home Inspections
How long does a home inspection take?
The inspection usually takes two to four hours, but the whole process can take several days to process, from the minute the inspector steps inside until you receive the final report.
How much does a home inspection cost?
Home inspection costs vary by geographic location. The average price tag across the country is $341; you could spend as little as $199 or as much as $500 — or even more — depending on where you live, according to the contractor-search service Angi. Home buyers in New Jersey, for instance, pay an average of $420.
On average, an inspection costs between $300 to $500, but you should verify the amount before inspection day.
Who pays for the inspection?
Typically, the buyer pays for the “traditional” home inspection after an offer is made. However, you, the seller, are responsible for paying for the pre-inspection if you choose to do one.
Don’t be intimidated by a home inspection! First, remember your concern, and then later, the security you felt when you initially bought the property. The inspection was crucial to the sale. Whether you negotiated and asked the seller to make the repairs or bought it as-is, you needed to know what you were getting into, and this buyer feels the same way.
Remember: a home inspection is different from the final walkthrough! Learn more about the walkthrough here.
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