I want to paint a picture for you. You’ve listed your home for sale. You’ve just had your first open house. You received an offer that you are very happy with. Congratulations, this is every seller’s dream. Now you’re in escrow and the home inspection has been completed on behalf of the buyer. Guess what, your buyer just received a list of repairs that your home needs. Some repairs look minor and some repairs leave this buyer wondering what they just got themselves into. Now your buyer has a decision to make. Is this buyer going to ask for a reduction off the sale price to cover what they think it will cost to make these repairs? Or is this buyer going to cancel this escrow and continue looking for a house that doesn’t need any repairs? Regardless of which direction this buyer takes, you’ve just lost out in the form of money and your very valuable time. DON’T WORRY! There is a simple way to prevent yourself from falling victim to this scenario. You’re going to get a home inspection before you list your house for sale.
DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE CONDITION OF YOUR HOME?
If you only follow one of these recommendations, it needs to be this one. GET A HOME INSPECTION. Getting a home inspection will inform you about the hidden repairs your home needs as well as give you clarification about the ones you may already suspect you need.
IF MY BUYER IS GOING TO GET A HOME INSPECTION, WHY SHOULD I BOTHER?
If you wait until your buyer does this, you leave yourself open to the possibility that your buyer will back out or that they will want to renegotiate the sale price. Either way it is time and money lost for you. Whether you plan to list your house “for sale by owner” or hire an agent/broker, this is an important first step.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO FIND OUT WITH A HOME INSPECTION?
A home inspector will conduct a thorough visual inspection of your home. This should include the following:
Structural components (the foundation and framing);
Exterior features (siding, porches, patios and balconies, driveways and walkways, and railings);
Roofing (flashing and skylights as well as the roof itself);
Electrical systems (service panels, breakers and fuses);
Plumbing systems (pipes, drains, water heating equipment and sump pumps);
Heating system (equipment and venting);
Cooling system (energy sources and distribution equipment);
Interior features (walls, ceilings, flooring, windows, doors, stairs and railings);
Insulation and ventilation (including the attic and other unfinished areas);
Fireplaces (chimneys and vents);
Understand that a home inspection will not cover everything. Home inspectors conduct visual inspections which means they are only liable for what they can see and access. Inspectors should not be opening up your walls by putting holes in them. They shouldn’t be digging holes in your yard to access pipes or other buried systems. They also shouldn’t be taking apart any equipment in the course of their inspection. Along with this you should know that there are certain areas that home inspectors do not cover. The following are things that would not be part of your home inspection:
Pools and hot tubs;
Kitchen appliances and central vacuum systems,
Fire and smoke detection (in California this includes carbon monoxide detection);
Alarm or intrusion detection systems;
Personal electronic systems (television satellites, built in surround sound speaker systems, built in theater projection systems);
Detached structures such as a garage, shed, cabana (if you state you would like this inspected as well ahead of time, this should be able to be included.);
Code compliance (they are not city inspectors);
Environmental hazards like radon, asbestos, and lead;
Termite and pest reports are also not part of a home inspection.
Any one of the items listed above can be inspected by someone who specializes in that area. If you are concerned about what is included and what will not be included, just ask your home inspector when you initially contact them. There are many home inspectors that have the special skills and certifications required to inspect some of these specialized areas. If there is an area you are concerned about, again you can hire someone who specializes in that specific area to come out and perform an inspection.
I HAVE THE RESULTS OF MY HOME INSPECTION, NOW WHAT?
Now that you have the results of your home inspection, you can decide if you want to make any of the repairs for items that are pointed out in the home inspection report. Know that you always have the option of selling your home “as is”.
When you know the results of your home inspection, you can take that information into consideration when determining the listing price of your home. It is also important to have this information so you can disclose it to potential buyers. Disclosure statements are a part of the sales contracts and will also be a discussion with any agent/broker you may hire to represent you in the sale of your home. Having this information at the start of this process will make everything go smoother.
Congratulate yourself for taking this very important, no….the most important step in getting ready to list your home for sale.
Let’s revisit that dream like scenario that went very wrong. You’ve listed your home for sale. You’ve just had your first open house. You received an offer that you are very happy with. Congratulations, this is every seller’s dream. And the best part is that you did a home inspection first, made some repairs you didn’t realize you needed and priced your home right. Your buyer ordered a home inspection, the lender ordered an appraisal report, the appraisal supports your contract price, and today you close escrow. Now this is every seller’s dream.