Congratulations! The home you are selling is now in contract. Although this is a step in the right direction, it does not guarantee that your house has been sold. There are several reasons why sales contracts are broken including inability to secure financing and results of a home inspection. You can’t do anything about the buyer’s finances, however, there are several ways which the sellers can prepare their house for a successful home inspection.
- Prepare to be out of the house for at least three hours to allow time for the inspection. Buyers are often present during the inspection; they may feel uncomfortable asking questions if the seller is present. If you are unable to remove animals from the property, be sure they are created or otherwise secured.
- Clear Access to critical areas of your house. This includes under sinks, electrical boxes, windows, water heaters, attic and other locked areas. If you have outbuildings or locked rooms within the house, make sure to label these keys and leave on the kitchen counter. The home inspector can not inspect what they are unable to see. These areas will be noted as inaccessible in the report, raising questions for the buyers.
- Remove your dishes from the sink and dishwasher. As inspectors, we don’t want to mess up your clean dishes by running the dishwasher.
- Leave the utilities connected. The inspector will need to turn on the stove, run the dishwasher, run water from all faucets, flush the toilets and test the furnace and AC. Without utilities, the inspection will need to be rescheduled or the inspector will need to come back once the utilities are on. Many inspectors charge a reinspection fee which will likely make for unhappy buyers.
- Clear brush and debris from around the house and make sure pathways are clear. The foundation of the house should be visible. Plants should be cut back around 10 inches from the house. Remove dirt and landscaping material away from the siding of the house. Wood piles should be placed as far away from the house as possible. Move trash cans away from the house.
- Be mindful of the little things! Every detail of the house will be noted within the inspector’s report; your goal is to keep the report as short as possible. Replace light bulbs, get a new furnace filter, make sure smoke and carbon monoxide monitors are working and have new batteries, tighten loose door handles or railings and clear slow drains, tighten electrical outlets and make sure they have covers. No detail is too small.
- Be transparent. If you are aware of safety issues in your home, it is best to disclose this information prior to the inspection. Otherwise, be prepared for these issues to be discovered and show up in the report. Obvious safety issues may leave the buyer wondering what else was not disclosed.
- Leave repair documents. If you have performed any upgrades, major repairs or additions, be sure to leave any invoices or documents about the quality of the repair. If you have replaced the roof, check to see if the warranty is transferable between owners. Now that would make for a happy buyer!
- Cheat! If you have lived in your house for less than ten years and still have a copy your home inspection, get it out and review. It is like having a cheat sheet! You may have been ok living with some of the items pointed out on the report, but your buyer may not.
- Lastly, If you have pets, make sure they are secured and safe and please do not forget to clean up after them. No inspector likes little land mines to avoid. 🙂
Chances are you cleaned prior to each showing and it paid off. Don’t stop your efforts now just because you are in contract! You want to reassure your buyers that this is the right house for them. With a little elbow grease, you can increase your chances of having a successful home inspection.