The home selling process can be stressful and exhausting. As the seller, you’ve invested a lot of time and energy to help maximize your sale, and once you’re under contract, all that hard work is finally about to pay off.
So now that your home is under contract, what’s next? The home inspection. During the home inspection, the buyer may be at their highest emotional level. It’s a stressful time for them, too, especially if it’s their first home purchase. Knowing beforehand what the home inspector will be looking at and what they could uncover, you’ll be able to better prepare your home for the inspection and address any issues that could be of concern for the buyer.
Contrary to popular beliefs, many of the issues that may cause concern for buyers or prolonged negotiations can be addressed before listing your home on the market, and at little to no cost by the seller. This can result in a WIN-WIN situation for both the buyer and the seller - a quicker closing, newfound peace of mind and a desirable outcome for all parties involved.
In fact, many of the issues found around the house are due to a lack of maintenance on important systems, like HVAC units. Most homeowners are not aware of these issues until they show up on the buyers’ home inspection report because they do not see these areas of the home often.
As a seller, you should consider taking advantage of a Pre-Listing Inspection. A Pre-Listing Inspection is a great tool to help homeowners identify and address key issues with their home that can arise during the home inspection process before your home is listed on the market. With a Pre-Listing Inspection, you can become a more educated home seller, build trust with potential buyers and maximize your home sale.
The checklist below covers some of the major issues that a seller can proactively address when getting their home ready for inspection. This is not a comprehensive list as every house is unique, rather a list of key concerns based on our experience as the #1 home inspection company in the U.S. Many of the items on the checklist could be do-it-yourself (DIY) but we recommend seeking professional help to ensure proper handling of issues.
Home Inspection Seller Checklist
- Clean out rain gutters and remove loose debris from the roof.
- Divert all water away from the house; i.e. downspouts drain swales, etc. Exterior grade should slope away from structure at a rate of 1” in 12”.
- Repair or replace broken roof tile and cracking cement caps.
- Have flat roofs properly coated with elastomeric and seal all roof protrusions such as plumbing vent pipes, skylights etc.
- Seal or repair masonry chimney caps. Installing a metal rain/ember cap is also recommended.
EXTERIOR AND ACCESS
- Clear ground away from the home’s exterior. Trim trees, roots and bushes back away from the foundation, exterior siding, roof, electrical panel and chimney. Recommended distances are 12 inches on the exterior and 3 feet in front of the electrical panel.
- Scrape loose material and repair soft wood, paint all exterior wood and properly seal the trim, windows, doors and other wall penetrations.
- Have stucco cracking repaired by a qualified stucco contractor especially around parapet walls or repair cracking/crumbling block and mortar joints.
- Seal walkways and driveways, if cracking.
- Ensure that all doors and windows are in proper operating condition. Repair or replace cracked windows.
- Make sure the garage door self-closure is operable.
- Remove unnecessary items allowing clear access to windows, walls, electrical outlets, attic accesses, water heaters, furnaces and electric panels.
ELECTRICAL AND BATTERY OPERATED
- Test all smoke detectors, replace batteries if needed. Update if over 10 years of age. Installing CO detectors is also recommended.
- Replace any burned out light bulbs.
- Make sure electric panels, exterior utility spaces, gates, garage doors etc. have locks opened or removed for access and testing.
- GFCI receptacles should be installed near all water sources. Test all present GFCI receptacles for proper operation.
HVAC AND PLUMBING
- Have the chimney, fireplace or wood stove cleaned and provide the buyer with a copy of the cleaning record.
- Clean or replace furnace filter(s). Clean dirty air returns and ducts.
- Remove paints, solvents, gas, etc. from combustion equipment such as the furnace or water heater.
- Service evaporative coolers and replace pads.
- Ensure that all plumbing fixtures (toilet, tub, shower, and sinks) are in proper operating condition. Check for and fix any leaks. Have grout or broken tile repaired and caulk seal as needed once repairs are complete.
- If the home has a jetted tub make sure the inspection access is operable and run the tub to make sure debris is removed from the lines.
- Check that bathroom, laundry and kitchen vents are properly vented and in working condition.
Preparing For a Home Inspection
In most home sales, the buyer orders a home inspection as part of their due diligence in ensuring the home is the right purchase for them and there are no major issues with the home. As the seller, there are a few steps you should take to prepare your house for a home inspection.
- Make sure all utilities are turned on, including water, electric and gas.
- Ensure the water heater, furnace and fireplace pilot lights are lit.
- Keep circuit breakers, gas and water valves on at the main disconnects and throughout the home.
If you are still living in the home:
- Make access to the breaker panel, attic, crawlspace, and basement easily accessible.
- Secure any pets.
- Keep the dishwasher and sink free of any dishes.
“It’s important for sellers to know that even well-maintained homes can have issues. While we hope that’s not the case, the health and safety is our clients is our top priority, so we will always put that first,” says Josh Rogers, WIN Training Specialist and Home Inspector. “Getting a Pre-Listing Inspection is the best way to be made aware of any issues that could come up while under contract, and getting ahead of those issues now can help the seller undergo a smooth and seamless home sale.”
If you are looking to sell your house and would like to schedule a Pre-Listing Inspection with a WIN Home Inspection expert near you, please click here. Alternatively, for more information or for help with a residential home inspection, please call (800) 309-6753 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our experts will contact you shortly!
Josh Rogers, WIN Training Specialist and Home Inspector, was named a home inspection expert on Redfin! Check out this article we were featured in: Home Inspector Checklist & Tips for Sellers | Redfin