Selling a home can be a nerve-racking experience, and you may be wondering how to get ready for the home inspection.
You may also find my guide on 7 things that fail a home inspection helpful.
A home inspection can make or break a sale, and I have had numerous clients walk away from a home purchase after a home inspection I performed. Usually, these ‘defects’ that cause a buyer to walk or major such as a broken HVAC system or a leaking roof — but other things can be minor.
Stuff like rotted wood, squeaking windows, inadequate attic insulation — but some buyers may find them indicative of poor overall maintenance. Of course, the more things you can fix prior to your buyer’s home inspection, the better.
But if you have documents and receipts that show a recent roof replacement, an HVAC servicing, or some other repair or replacement — always leave copies for the home inspector and buyer.
I invite you to also read my guide on whether sellers should be present at the home inspection.
Here are my ten tips for sellers to prepare for a home inspection…
Table of contents
- 1. Hire A Home Inspector Yourself
- 2. Look For Deteriorated Wood Trim
- 3. Service And Clean Your Furnace
- 4. Look In Your Attic
- 5. Open Your Windows
- 6. Check Grading And Drainage
- 7. Caulk And Air Seal The Exterior
- 8. Change Or Clean Faucet Aerators
- 9. Clean And Caulk The Bathroom Tiles
- 10. Give Copies Of All Receipts
1. Hire A Home Inspector Yourself
Let’s just say that you still have some time before your buyer’s home inspection, you may want to consider getting a home inspection for yourself.
If you hire a home inspector, you can prepare and fix anything the inspector finds before your buyer’s inspector arrives. Even though it is rare, I guess because sellers don’t want to dish out the money — it could make or break the sale if you have foreknowledge of defects.
You may think you are aware of everything with the home, but home inspectors are trained to be extremely thorough and we usually find hundreds of large and small defects.
And it is important to be honest with the home inspector. Tell him that you want him to be thorough so you can fix any issues prior to your buyer’s home inspector getting to the home.
Read Also: How To Do Home Inspections For Asbestos?
2. Look For Deteriorated Wood Trim
Home inspectors find deteriorated or ‘rotted’ wood all the time. When I did home inspections, I carried around a sharp tool called an awl to poke for soft or rotted wood, but homeowners can just use a screwdriver or knife.
It is inexpensive to fix rotted wood, but it is an eyesore, and it can really turn off some buyers. Don’t be tricked into painting over rotted wood — just fix it.
You can find rotted wood in numerous areas such as…
- Window sills
- Garage door corners
- Door jambs
- Porch posts
- Deck posts
3. Service And Clean Your Furnace
If you have a forced air furnace, A/C, or heat pump — the interior unit or ‘air handler’ can get extremely dirty. I have opened up numerous furnaces to find mold and dust all over the place, and you can imagine how that can turn off a buyer.
If you would like to learn more about inspecting for mold, you may want to read my guide on home mold inspections right here.
If I was a seller, I would remove the furnace or A/C cover and see how it looks. If it is dirty, get it professionally cleaned by an air duct cleaning company.
If you haven’t had the HVAC system services in the past 12-months, have it serviced so you can leave a receipt for the home inspector and buyer.
4. Look In Your Attic
The attic for most homeowners is an “out of sight, out of mind” type of thing — and we don’t know what’s going on up there. But sometimes the attic can make or break the sale.
I have been in attics with mice infestations where it had a pungent smell of urine. The attic is also a good place to see any roof leaks.
If you can get up into the attic with a flashlight, you can look for a few things…
- Areas of missing or inadequate insulation
- Water stains around roof vents
- Mold growth
- Pests such as mice, raccoons, or squirrels
- Inadequate ventilation
The attic is the easiest place to add insulation that can improve the comfort of your home.
Read Also: How To Do Home Inspections For Asbestos?
5. Open Your Windows
The windows are a sizable home component, and it can cost a big chunk of cash to replace if there are a lot.
Some homeowners rarely if ever use their windows, and they may not even be aware if they are operating correctly. The windows should be able to lock, and they should be able to be opened and closed smoothly.
Another frequent problem with windows is broken seals. With double paned windows, the seal sometimes breaks which allows in condensation causing a ‘fogged’ or oily look.
I recommend going throughout the home and opening at least 50% of your home’s windows to get a good idea of their condition.
Things to look for include…
- Broken glass
- Broken thermal seals (condensation)
- Window makes weird noises when opened or closed
- Window falls back down when opened
- Window is hard to open or close
6. Check Grading And Drainage
Home inspection reports frequently cite poor grading and drainage.
Grading is how the ground is sloped near the home. The soil should slope in a gradual downward slope from the home foundation to divert water away from the house. This downward slope should extend at least several feet away from the foundation and slope 0.5 inch per foot
If the ground is flat, or even sloping towards the home, the home inspector will call it out because it can cause foundation and water problems.
Another important aspect of water drainage is the condition of the downspouts. The downspouts should divert water away from the home at least a few feet, and extensions are usually recommended by inspectors.
Here are a few things to look for…
- Missing downspout extensions or downspout elbows
- Backwards downspout diverters
- Ground is flat or sloping towards the home
- Pooling of water near the home
- Gutters are filled with debris
- Gutters aren’t sloping towards the downspouts
7. Caulk And Air Seal The Exterior
Another thing homeowners can do to prepare for a home inspection is to thoroughly caulk all of the door and window trim.
Walk around the home, and look for hairline cracks in between the windows and the siding or brick.
Just make sure that you don’t caulk any drainage holes or channels in the windows. These small holes and channels allow water to escape and you don’t want to caulk over it.
In addition to the doors and windows, any and all ‘penetrations’ that go into the home should be caulked in order to air seal it. Sealing these items will also prevent water and pests from going into the home.
- Condensate drain lines
- Electrical conduit
- Electrical meter
- Gas line
- Internet and phone cables
8. Change Or Clean Faucet Aerators
A common complaint among new homeowners is ‘low water pressure’ at certain faucets.
When I am doing a home inspection, noticing low water pressure at a shower head or faucet is the easiest thing for them to point out. And it is such a minor thing to fix usually, that sellers should really turn on all of their plumbing fixtures to check for low water pressure.
If you have low water pressure at just a few faucets, it is likely from a dirty or broken aerator. Aerators, also known as ‘screens’, are plumbing devices that mix air with the water in order to lower water usage and prevent particles from getting into your water.
If the aerator is plugged with debris, the stream of water can slow down to a trickle.
9. Clean And Caulk The Bathroom Tiles
Nothing is more unappealing than mold and mildew on bathroom tiles.
And it is such a minor thing to fix, all homeowners should thoroughly clean the grout and caulking of their showers. If you have to add new grout to brighten up, then it’s worth it.
It’s also important that homeowners only add caulking to the edges of their tile walls and where the tub meets the tile — everywhere else is grout.
If there are hairline cracks on the shower caulking, home inspectors will always call it out since it is a water leak hazard. In fact, most water stains on ceilings are from water leaks related to deteriorated bathroom caulking.
10. Give Copies Of All Receipts
“If you got it, flaunt it” and this saying is very true for home inspections.
When home inspectors don’t have receipts or confirmation of things, we will tend to give estimated ranges to our buyers. We may say something like “roof appears to be 20+ years old” or that “the roof appears to be approaching it’s life expectancy”.
But we aren’t always correct, so if you recently had an appliance or system serviced or replaced — provide a copy of the receipt.
You should leave copies of things like…
- Roof replacement (and warranty if transferrable)
- HVAC servicing invoice
- Pest control inspection
- Pool maintenance
- Receipt of new windows
- Water heater replacement
And even receipts of anything you repaired that was done properly.