Selling a Home – Home Inspection Process

In my continuing series blog posts dealing with tips for selling a home, I’d like to venture into the process of home inspection and the implication for prospective sellers. Most if not all buyers will want to be informed of various aspects of a property they are making an offer on. A home inspection is an objective comprehensive visual examination of a property and its major mechanical systems which usually includes roofing and foundations. The inspection results in a detailed written report which is presented to the purchaser. Over the years of doing business many home inspection companies have compiled checklists of the common home inspection issues that would concern a potential purchaser. These items are always covered in the typical home inspection. Early detection of these issues along with some routine maintenance can minimize the number of items that a home inspector is likely to call out. To that end correction of any possible red flags will not only streamline the inspection process but also result in a buyer being less likely to walk away from the property or hand the seller an exhaustive list of items needing repair or replacement.

According to home inspection experts approximately half of the resale homes on the market today have at least one significant defect. So if you have been deferring some basic home maintenance, now might be the time to walk through your home and see what is needed. Let’s begin with the most critical systems in the home. Begin with the heating and cooling systems and ensure they are operating correctly. A good suggestion is to have a routine cleaning performed by a contractor prior to the buyers home inspection. A clean system conveys a history of regular maintenance and having a professional give it a “once over”can detect any safety issues well in advance of the home inspection. Electrical and plumbing systems should be checked next. Ensure that all outlets are properly grounded and circuit breakers are up to date. Check that there are no leaky pipes and all waste drains are quickly evacuating water. The exterior roofing material as well as both exterior and interior foundation walls should be looked at for evidence of any loose tile/shingles and cracking. If professionals are needed to make further assessment of these items they should be called in for a second opinion.

Now that the major components have been checked – don’t stop here! Routine maintenance is the best way to not only enhance appeal, but to provide real value at a minimum of time and expense. Below are some items that are often overlooked by potential sellers and can easily be addressed.

Re- apply new caulking and weatherstripping as needed around windows and doors.
Clean all gutters and downspouts of debris and leaves, repair or replace any that are cracked and ensure that downspouts extend far enough from the house to ensure proper drainage
Replace the caulk or grout in the bathroom and/or kitchen where necessary to prevent seepage and improve appearance.
Ensure that closed basements and crawl spaces are properly ventilated, or install a dehumidifier to prevent excessive moisture from accumulating.
Examine and regrade soil around the house to prevent accumulation of water next to the foundation
Trim any bushes, trees and shrubs which are in contract with or hang over the house. Neatly cut the grass and edge all sidewalks and driveways

Since safety issues are usually number one on a home inspectors checklist’s the following should also be addressed and while many of these are common sense, they are for your personal safety as well.

Install good quality smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors; change batteries every 6 months.
‘GFCI’ outlets should be installed outdoors and in wet locations such a bath & laundry areas.
Stairwells and doorways should be kept tidy and free of debris and obstructions.
Any combustibles should always be stored away from the furnace/water heater and dryer.
Sensors and down tension on garage door openers should be frequently checked, to ensure that the door reverses without an excessive amount of pressure.
Other good documentation to make available to potential buyers includes things such as:
Information on the age of major components such as the roof coverings, furnace, air-conditioner, along with receipts, service records and warranties.
Major component warranties (roofing, siding, windows, carpeting furnace and appliances)
Heating, water and electric bills from at least the past 12 months.

While no home is perfect, a reasonable and conscientious home inspector will attempt to discover if there are significant defects in a home that the homeowner is unaware and will frequently point out the positive attributes of a house. A good or better than average report can be a good marketing tool for sellers and their agents. Sellers will often differentiate their property from others by having a home inspection done prior to marketing their home adding another level of credibility to their property.

Coldwell Banker Encinitas Realtor Linda Moore has been assisting both sellers and buyers with the home inspection process since 1990. Her knowledge of how to prepare your home for inspection coupled with her ability to successfully guide you through each and every step of the home sale process in unmatched in the San Diego area!

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