Whether you’re buying or selling real estate, the home inspection is an important part of the process. If you’ve been house hunting for a while and you’ve finally found your dream house, you may be tempted to become emotionally attached to that home right away. But avoid doing that before you hire a qualified home inspector to thoroughly check it out – or else that dream home could turn into a nightmare.

What if there are major foundation problems that will cost thousands of dollars to fix? What if the plumbing system doesn’t hold water or the A/C unit is full of hot air or the electrical system needs a jolt to meet code requirements? If you are aware of this information early in the process, you can buy some negotiating power.

Usually, a home inspector is hired immediately after the contract has been signed. Be sure there is a clause in your sales contract that makes your final purchase obligation contingent on the results of a professional home inspection. Hire a qualified home inspector to perform a comprehensive inspection and prepare a detailed report of their findings.

Here are some tips whether you are the buyer or seller on ways to make sure your home inspection is as productive and smooth as possible.

Tips for Buyers

  • Choose your own home inspector rather than relying on a third party; ask for references or get recommendations from people you know and trust.
  • Check your contract to determine whether you have an inspection contingency clause that makes your final purchase obligation contingent on the results of a professional home inspection.
  • Prepare a list of any questions or concerns you have about the property, such as water stains on the ceiling, cracks in the walls or even a strange, musty smell; bring the list with you to the inspection.
  • Plan to be present to get a firsthand explanation of the inspector’s findings.
  • A typical inspection lasts two to three hours long.
  • After the inspection is complete, the inspector will prepare an extensive written report for your review.
  • Expect imperfections; every home has flaws and usually needs minor repairs.
  • If major problems are discovered, buyers can ask the seller to fix them or they can ask for a reduction on the sale price.

Tips for Sellers

  • Fix dripping faucets, leaks and clogs.
  • Ensure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are present and in good working order – check batteries.
  • Replace any burned out or missing light bulbs.
  • Change the air filter(s).
  • Prune bushes or tree limbs that touch the house – vegetation too close to the house does not allow the building materials to dry out quickly after rain, and may promote rot.
  • Tighten loose door knobs, latch plates and door hinges on interior and exterior doors; tighten any loose kitchen and bathroom cabinet knobs or handles.
  • Make sure all windows are operable and there are no broken locks.
  • Prepare a list of any recent repairs or renovations; include the date of repair/renovation and attach receipts.
  • Clean and tidy the house as though buyers were coming to view it during an open house; a dirty and disorderly house gives the impression of neglectful owners.
  • Be ready for the home inspector a half hour before the appointment time; he or she could be early.
  • Leave all keys so the inspector has access to all systems, gates and doors.
  • If home is not currently occupied, ensure utilities (electricity, gas, water) are connected.
  • Make sure the pilot lights on the stove, furnace and water heater are lit.
  • Clear the areas surrounding attic and crawl space access as well as electrical panels, appliances, etc. for easy access.
  • Place pets out of the way while the inspector is onsite.
  • All occupants should leave the home for at least three hours.

For more suggestions on how to simplify buying a home, contact Rebecca.