Your home just went under contract to sell and now the true scrutiny begins. The home inspection milestone in the timeline of a purchase contract is one of the most important steps for both seller and buyer. While the inspection isn’t a pass or fail kind of test, the findings of an inspector can cause a buyer to renegotiate with a different price or new contingencies specific to repair or replacement. Here are some common questions and answers that sellers ask when their home gets put under the magnifying glass.
What is a Home Inspector Looking for in My Home?
There are seven major things that an inspector reports on: signs of water damage, structural issues, an old or damaged roof, faulty electrical system, plumbing problems, insect infestation, and HVAC system problems. While the inspector will look at many more items on a long checklist (appliances, windows, weatherstripping, siding, secure railings, cracks, decay, flaking paint, etc.) these seven things are usually the most consequential items in a home that need to be in working order.
What Does a Home Inspector Not Look at?
∙ Cosmetic issues like scratches, gashes, or peeling wallpaper are not typical home inspector checks unless they involve a safety issue. Even if an inspector does mention a handful of minor issues, typically buyers shouldn’t bother asking for repairs that they or a handyman could easily handle themselves.
∙ Irrigation systems, septic systems, mold, or the presence of termites are not typically reviewed by a home inspector. If the inspector notices signs of termites or mold, however, they will report them. These items can be inspected by specialized experts if you agree to the buyers’ request.
∙ An inspector will observe the roof from the ground or highest point possible from the home, but he or she typically will not get on top of a roof. If a more thorough roof inspection is desired, a buyer would need to request permission from you for an additional expert to inspect the roof.
∙ A home inspector is typically not a qualified foundation expert, but if they notice a crack or leaning wall that concerns them, they might recommend a separate foundation inspection.
Who Pays for the Home Inspection?
The buyer is always expected to pay for the home inspection and any additional experts brought in, unless the parties have reached a different agreement in the purchase contract.
How Can I Prepare for My Home’s Inspection?
∙ Keep receipts of routine maintenance done on the home and its components.
∙ Clear clutter from basements, attics, garages, and crawl spaces so that the inspector has appropriate access. If access isn’t possible, an “uninspectable” mark could prolong the process.
∙ Make sure all lights work to avoid suspicion of electrical issues.
∙ Clear any water clogs in sinks and showers.
∙ Replace HVAC filters.
∙ Repair broken screens and cracked windows.
∙ Trim trees that touch the roof or other parts of the house. Branches give access to rodents on the roof.
∙ Address any kind of bug infestation.
∙ Cap unused gas lines, chimneys, and flues. Toxic fumes can be released in the home if caps are missing.
What Kind of Repair Requests am I Obligated to Fix for the Sale to Go Through?
Although the seller is not obligated to make any repair or pay any compensation for a negative inspection finding, neither is the buyer obligated to go through with the purchase. This is where negotiation between both parties enters the picture. If the contract is worth saving, then sellers will often agree to some degree of repair or replacement, even if not to the full extent of a buyer’s request. An experienced Realtor can help advise. Every situation comes with its own variables, however. In competitive sellers’ markets, some buyers will forego asking for any repairs knowing that there are plenty of back-up buyers waiting in the wings.
What Happens if the Buyer Walks Away After the Inspection?
If the buyer walked away because they were either turned off by inspection findings or as the seller, you could not reach a negotiated agreement regarding an inspection issue, the house goes back on the market. New potential buyers will know the home was pending and that the contract was terminated. They may reach their own assumptions about the collapsed sale, which could negatively affect the price—or not, depending on how much they want the house. Also, if a significant defect was found in the home inspection and you were made aware of it, you now must disclose that defect to all potential buyers.
Real Estate Term of the Week
Pre-Listing Inspection: A home inspection ordered by the sellers in advance of listing their home on the market. It provides sellers with upfront information about the condition of their property, which gives them more control over repairs and potentially strengthens their negotiating position.