A Seller’s Guide: Preparing for Home Inspection

Get out your #2 pencil – it’s time to study for a very important test: the examination your Buyer and his or her chosen professional (the Home Inspector) will be conducting on your property.

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

If you were the kind of kid who started studying for next week’s test on Tuesday of this week, you’re in for a real treat! We’ve got the inside scoop that will help you ace this one. 

If, on the other hand, your left eye is twitching under all this pressure and you are sweating and wondering if you can play sick the day of your inspection (Sorry Ferris – we’re not buying it)…we’re here to help! We’ve got great tips to help you survive this experience and pull off, say, a decent B+. 

Waiting for the Inspection Objection after the Buyer’s ultimate test run of your property can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be uncertain. Read on for tips on Pre-Inspection Preparedness that may save you money and will help you make the grade at Inspection time. (Alternatively, feel free to ignore our sound advice; but do invest in quality deodorant for the days you spend sweating it out while you await the results.)

Don Your Detective Hat

"Is that outlet grounded?!" Better to make minor fixes ahead of time on your own terms. 

"Is that outlet grounded?!" Better to make minor fixes ahead of time on your own terms. 

Go Gadget Go! Beginning at the curb in front of your home, make note of anything suspicious an Inspector or Buyer may notice. Torn window screens? Missing brick in the façade? Write that down. Is there a loose tile in the entry or a damaged section of carpet somewhere in your living space? How about toilets? Are they all in working order, or does one run constantly? Clear out cabinet space under the kitchen sink and in every bathroom. If they are musty, dusty or show signs of minor leaks you’ve since repaired, clean them up. All of these items could end up on an Inspection Objection report, and all of them could cost you money.

You can make minor repairs now, or hire your preferred pro to tackle them for you – or you can do so at the mercy of the Buyer. Some Sellers go the extra mile and have a friend or neighbor conduct a walkthrough, notebook in hand, to point out anything you might have grown used to or overlooked that could be an issue for Buyers during the Inspection. 

The List of Items that May Scare your Buyer and Catch the Inspector's Eye Includes: 

  • Crumbling Exterior Elements: wood, siding, paint, rock or brick accents
  • Wonky Windows: foggy glass (failed seals), torn screens and windows that stick
  • Plumbing Nuisances: running toilets, leaky faucets, noisy sprinkler systems
  • Ceiling or Wall Water Stains: Your kids flooded the bathtub or maybe a toilet overflowed – there is likely a “no big deal” explanation for the stain, but your Buyer will be concerned and the Inspector will get out his/her magnifying glass; take care of these cosmetic issues before they show up 
  • Electrical Code Compliance: DIYers make note – if you DIY’d your electrical and “made it up as you went along,” spend a few bucks now to have an electrician check out your work before the Inspection takes place
  • Kitchen/Bathroom Ventilation: If the range hood or the little noise box in your bathroom ceiling aren’t functioning properly, the Buyer and Inspector will notice. And while you’re at it, run your appliances through the paces to ensure they’ll pass muster, too
  • Mold or Radon Remediation: both can be an issue in Colorado
  • Change the Furnace Filter: And while you’re at it, lay a couple of brand new filters beside the furnace. This lets the Inspector know you are diligent about regular home maintenance and it costs only a few dollars

Click on each image below (from an actual Inspection Report) for additional tips:  

Tidy the House

The Home Inspector doesn’t really care whether piles of laundry are obscuring every piece of furniture or the sink is full of dishes, but an overall impression of tidiness lends itself to a feeling that below the surface, things are tidy, too. Pretend you are having a high stakes showing. After all – you are. One "don't" -  if you have carpet, a bathroom or any space that has an odor of any kind, don’t try to cover it up with stinky candles or excessive deodorizing spray. Clean as best you can and when in doubt, use a product like unscented Febreze to tackle odors. Perfumed rooms are a dead giveaway that something is amiss, and you aren’t doing your inspection any favors. 

Ensure Easy Access

The Inspector will need to look under, in, around, and through crawl spaces, all areas of the basement, garage, attic, sheds or other outbuildings included in the purchase. If you keep anything attached to the home under lock and key or behind piles of boxes or racks of clothing, make way now. Don’t get in the way of the process – do everything you can to make all areas and equipment (appliances, electrical, etc.) accessible. This includes Fifi the world’s cutest attack-Yorkie. If your pet isn’t a goldfish, put it in a pet crate or send it to doggy day care. 

Don't Stress

You filled out a Seller’s Property Disclosure (SPD) to the best of your knowledge (asking clarifying questions as necessary) when you listed your home for sale. Honesty on this disclosure gives the Buyer less negotiating room when it comes to the Inspection Objection; after all – they knew ____ was an issue, and they made an offer anyway. Forthrightness on the SPD will let potential Buyers know up front that you have nothing to hide and if something surprising pops up at Inspection time, it’ll be a surprise to you, too. 

Consider this information your Pre-Inspection Homework Assignment and you’ll have a much easier time keeping your cool during the waiting period between Inspection and Inspection Objection (followed by the Inspection Resolution, for the pocket-protector set who want to add all of this to their day planner #righthisminute). It’s not unusual to feel a few jitters while you await the Buyer’s potential list of demands, and we get that. We also know if you’re willing to do your homework, you’ll save time/money/trouble and chances are good you’ll pass the test with flying colors and no more than a few minor dings on your report card. 

Was this information helpful? Let us know in the comments what you’d add and what else you’d like to know about preparing for the Buyer’s Home Inspection.