When buying a house, it’s tempting to skip the home inspection to save a few hundred dollars. But, if you do, you risk buying an unsafe house, one you must repair out of pocket instead of adding the cost to the price of the home.
In short, skipping a home inspection is not worth the risk. But then, failing to get what you need from an inspection is no different.
If you don’t know what things to look for in a home inspection, you’ll end up with a subpar inspection that does you no good. If you’re an unprepared seller, the inspection could turn the buyer away.
It pays to be prepared. Whether you’re buying or selling, the following home inspection tips will help you get the most out of your home inspection. Read this list to know what to do during a home inspection.
What to Do During a Home Inspection: Sellers
When selling your house, a home inspection can make or break the deal. If there are no problems found, or if problems are dealt with appropriately, the deal looks good.
If you try something sneaky or dishonest, or it looks like you are, it’s a red flag for the buyer. When you’re unprepared for inspection, it shows the buyer that you and/or the building cannot be trusted.
Show buyers you are trustworthy with these tips.
1. Make Everything Accessible
Rule #1: get out of the way. A seller’s role in a home inspection is to make the inspection as easy as possible. That means making everything accessible.
If you hinder the inspection, it appears you’re hiding something. Show them you have nothing to hide.
First, there are no coverups or blocked areas allowed. Unlock all doors and clear all pathways. Don’t forget to unblock attics and basements.
Tidy up the house so the home inspector and buyer aren’t tripping over things. A messy house can get in the way of the inspection. Also, it’s rude and makes buyers uneasy.
Don’t forget to empty all appliances that are included in the sale. Empty the oven, dishwasher, and washer and dryer.
2. Fix Simple Problems Beforehand
As you’re tidying up beforehand, do your own inspection. Note any problems that might come up so you’re prepared if asked about them.
Fix any known problems you can before they’re inspected. This will save time and make the house look well-maintained.
Replace all burnt out light bulbs so buyers and inspectors can check the wiring easily. Replace broken light switches, screw in loose doorknobs, that kind of thing.
On the other hand, leave cosmetic damage as it is. Many sneaky sellers try to cover up significant problems, like water damage from a leaky pipe, with cosmetic repair. Better for buyers to see easily-fixable wall blemishes than worry about what you’re hiding.
3. Disclose Known Problems and Maintenance
We shouldn’t need to say this, but don’t be like the sneaky sellers we just described. That is, don’t try to hide problems. You will be found out and your dishonesty will blow the sale.
It’s not a big deal to the buyer if your house needs work. That’s why it’s being inspected: to find and fix problems. But finding out you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes will turn them away for good.
Confess any known house flaws up front. Make them known before they are discovered.
Likewise, make known any recent work you’ve had done on the house. Disclose any repairs or maintenance.
What to Do During a Home Inspection: Buyers
As already stated, it’s essential for buyers to get a home inspection before buying. But it won’t matter much if you don’t even know what you’re looking for.
To get all you need from an inspection, use this checklist.
4. Hire Someone You Can Trust
Undoubtedly, you’ve picked a realtor you feel you can trust. But ultimately, they’re only there to profit from your business. For that reason, it’s better to find your own home inspector than the ones your realtor suggests.
Suggested inspectors could be loyal or even contractually partnered to your realtor. They may bias the inspection just to get the house sold.
It’s best to research and decide on a home inspector yourself. If this is more expensive, try haggling down the price. See if your desired inspector will work at a competitor’s price.
5. Show Up
It’s important to be present for the inspection. The rest of the points on this checklist depend on it.
Besides, being present gives you a much more comprehensive understanding of the inspection. You can see relevant issues up close and ask questions. This makes it easier for the inspector to clear up any confusion you have.
You can also watch for the emotional reactions of the seller and inspector. This helps you see through the fakers and hustlers and decide if this deal can be trusted.
6. Make Sure They Inspect These
You don’t want to pester the inspector or tell them how to do their job. But you don’t want important things to be missed either.
So, keep this checklist during the inspection and check it off as you go. Only mention these at the end of the inspection if they were missed.
The attic must be checked for proper ventilation, insulation, air leaks, moisture leaks, mold, etc. The roof must be checked as well. Maintenance and status of the furnace, water heater, and air conditioning should be checked.
A soil test is expensive but a good idea. Harmful materials in the soil, like lead, can really lower the safety (and value) of the home.
Lastly, make sure they check plumbing, sewer and electrical. These are important (and expensive to repair) but commonly missed because they require more work.
7. Ask Questions
Being confused and remaining silent is the best way to get hustled. If you have questions, don’t be shy. Ask them.
If you’re confused or unsure of anything, ask. Tomorrow’s too late.
Speaking of questions, ALWAYS get price quotes of any required work. Knowing the cost of required work is kind of the entire point of the inspection. Plus, you’ll need these price quotes to get better ones later (see point #9).
8. Take Notes and Pictures
When you ask questions, write down the answer. In fact, take notes about everything. Keep a notepad or audio recorder with you and record everything that happens.
Furthermore, get it on camera. Anything your inspector mentions, take a picture of it. And if they aren’t already, ask them to photograph any hard-to-reach issues you can’t get close to.
These inspections are lots of information happening really fast. When trying to remember, let alone form opinions, about the event, you’ll thank yourself for having such good notes to work from. Plus, it’s good to have photographic proof of issues in case disputes arise later.
9. Get a Second Opinion
After the inspection (if you’re still interested) find a separate contractor to do the required work. Then have them look over the property. This gets you a second inspection for free.
They may come up with issues that got missed. And you can check the validity of these issues against your own notes. Once again, you’ll be really happy you took such great notes.
Speaking of notes, home inspectors usually overestimate their price quotes of required work. They do this so they or their friends can do the work themselves at an upcharged price. Therefore, make sure the bids the contractor gives you are less than you were quoted before.
Remember These Home Inspection Tips
Now that you know what to do during a home inspection, don’t forget it. Follow these tips to avoid getting hustled (or to avoid hustling your buyers). Keep and use this checklist to get the most out of your home inspection.
For more home inspection advice, read Home Inspection Tips: 9 Common Mistakes to Avoid.