Enhance Your House Before Listing: Your Home Inspection Checklist
Are you thinking of listing your house for sale and wondering what the first steps are? Of course, hiring an agent, assessing the market and setting a sales price are key steps. However, many sellers overlook an important step that can make or break a sale. First, you must prepare for a visit from the buyer’s home inspector. The sale probably won’t go through if the house doesn’t pass muster.
So, it is in your best interest to have the home as ready as possible before a homebuyer’s inspection takes place. In fact, you might consider initiating a pre-listing inspection in order to find out exactly what needs to be fixed — even before finding a buyer.
Here’s a checklist that will prepare you for the home inspection, which is designed to assess the structural status of your house and its systems, from the roof all the way down to the foundation.
Getting ready for the buyer’s inspection
- Are all systems go? Service all heating and air conditioning systems so you can show a buyer they are well maintained and up to date; service any other systems including generator, sprinkler, and pest control systems. Make copies of all service completion reports to share with your buyer. If you have an in-ground oil tank, have it tested before you go to market.
- Power up: Check outlets, light switches, and electrical circuits for power. Tighten loose outlets and ensure cords fit snugly. Repair any wiring that is defective, and don’t leave any exposed wiring visible.
- First impressions matter: Look for any exterior damage on your shingles, siding, wood or stucco. Take a look around the walls of each room in the house for any blemishes. Perform any needed paint touchups or repairs.
- Create curb appeal: Get the weeding done, make sure your lawn and plantings are healthy, neat, and tidy. Repair any outdoor stone or walkways so they do not present a safety hazard. Clear any brush away from inspection areas.
- Clear views: Are your windows clean and operational? Cracked windows should be replaced because they present a safety hazard. If windows are “foggy,” that may indicate broken seals; those should be fixed as well. Locate and install any window screens or storm windows so that buyer can see that they are all available; or at least store them where a buyer can inspect them. And by all means, make sure the windows are clean, inside and outside.
- Clean and declutter: This sounds so simple but is often overlooked by homeowners. Clean, uncluttered homes signal that you care about the look and maintenance of your house. That includes the attic, basement, and garage spaces, which the inspector will need to access.
- Keep the fires burning: Clean your fireplace and hire a chimney sweep to inspect for cracks, pests, or other blockages and issues. Again, make a copy of the inspection report so the buyer will know fireplace is fully functioning.
- Leaks, drips, and moisture: Check faucets, toilets and all plumbing for leaks. Are there any water damage spots on walls? They may indicate leaky pipes behind the walls. If your basement feels damp, you may want to run a de-humidifier to keep things fresh and dry. Any visible signs of leakage or dampness anywhere in the house can kill a sale immediately, so be sure to inspect and address any issues before a buyer sees them.
- Kitchen and bathrooms: Are your appliances functioning? Repair or replace any defective items such as dishwashers, waste disposers, exhaust fans and stovetops. Clean out the oven so that it may be tested without setting off the smoke alarm.
- Don’t forget the environment. Take care of any environmental issues in your homes such as mold, lead, indoor air quality, asbestos, water quality, and radon. Check your oil tank for leaks. Not all environmental hazards are obvious, so hire a licensed, trained environmental inspector. Investing in this service upfront can prevent losing money on your deal.
No matter how much you prepare, brace yourself—the home inspector may still find something wrong. But, if you’ve taken care of most of these items, there should be no major deficiencies, and any problems should be minor and easily fixable, or negotiable. Don’t forget, you want your buyer to feel that your home is absolutely perfect for them, so take the time to make it as turnkey as possible!