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View original article: Prince William Association of REALTORS®, Inc.

Sellers: Be Prepared
A Seller’s Guide to Home Inspections

By ROBERT K. MAJOR

We peek under your sinks and behind closed doors, in your basements and down at your floors.  We operate your appliances to insure good order, and check in your attic for any signs of water.  We get on your roof and crawl under your house avoiding the spiders and even a mouse. We check the plumbing and the electrical too, the heating and AC just to name a few.  We inspect your foundation, the exterior and more, checking off items as we take our tour.   We will look at your house from top to bottom finding the issues that might cause a problem.  If you’re selling your home, be prepared, because your local inspector is always there! 

If you have ever been through the process of selling your home, you know how difficult it is to create that picture perfect image.  Beds always made, bathrooms clean, laundry folded, and everything in its place.  Although image is very important, it only touches the surface.  Your home should not only look good, it should also operate well.  Home inspectors looks beyond the surface, to establish the overall condition of your home.   

From an inspector’s perspective, your home is broken down into sections and components.  We look at your Grounds, Exterior, Roof, Foundation, Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, Electrical Systems, Interior Components, Garage, Kitchen, and Bathrooms.  This allows the inspector to evaluate and identify specific issues.  There is a lot of anxiety associated with the selling process, so the following narrative is a guide to help you prepare for your next home inspection. 

Grounds

  • Keep a good seal on your asphalt driveway.  This is a great way to protect the asphalt and to provide a fresh look. 

  • Make sure your deck and wooden fences are in good shape.  Replace rotted or damaged lumber, secure post and loose rails, and eliminate protruding nails.  Power washing, waterproofing, and staining provide a new look and protects the lumber. 

Exterior

  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are in good working order.  Remove any leaves or debris and make sure your downspouts have diverters taking water away from your foundation.

  • Look at the exterior of your home.  Make sure the siding, brick, and trim are in good repair.  Replace or repair any damaged siding or trim, and paint and caulk any exposed wood for protection.

Foundation

  • Look for and fix water penetration problems in your basement.  Moisture in a home can lead to structural problems, moisture damage, and mold.  This is a big deterrent for potential buyers.

  • If you have a basement or crawl space look for damage to lumber and cracks in your foundation system (includes bricks, masonry block, poured concrete, and slab floors).  If your foundation system is bulging, heaving, or significantly cracked you should contact a structural engineer or a licensed contractor. 

 Plumbing

  • Check all visible supply and drain lines throughout the house.  Look for corrosion and leaks and have plumbing repaired where necessary.

  • If you have Polybutylene pipes and have had problems, consider replacing your supply lines.  This plumbing system has experienced many problems and it can bring down the value of your home.  Check with a licensed contractor and your Realtor® to see if you can recover the replacement cost through the listing price.

Heating and Air Conditioning

  • Have your Heating & AC System serviced by a licensed contractor.  They will evaluate and clean your system and make sure it is operating properly.

  • Dirty air filters create drag in your ducts and decrease the efficiency of your Heating & AC System.  Make sure you have a clean or new filter.

Electrical Systems

  • Check all the outlets in your house and make sure they are covered and working properly.  You can purchase an inexpensive three prong outlet tester at the hardware store.  If you encounter a problem with your outlets contact a licensed contractor.

  • If you have aluminum wires leading to your outlets and fixtures have your electrical system evaluated by a licensed electrician. 

Interior, Kitchen, and Bathrooms

  • All homes experience common settling cracks and nail pops.  Patching and painting can create a fresh new look in your home.  Remember to use neutral colors.  If you find significant cracks, wall movement, or ceiling separation contact a licensed contractor for evaluation and repair. 

  • Make sure all your doors and windows operate.  Look for broken glass, broken sashes, damaged hardware, and units that do not operate properly.  Repair and replace were necessary.

  • Go into your attic (ideal during a heavy rain storm) and make sure your roof is providing adequate protection.  Look for stains and evidence of moisture damage.  Contact a licensed contractor if you find any problems.

  • Make sure your refrigerator, range/oven, dishwasher, microwave, and garbage disposal are clean and working properly.

  •  Make sure your toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs are working properly.  Check for leaks, moisture damage, loose fixtures, slow drains, and low water pressure.  Repair and replace where necessary.

Garage

  • Make sure your automatic garage door opener is operating properly.  Check the auto reverse safety devises (motion sensor and pressure sensor).

  • Make sure the door leading to the house is fire rated and that any walls or ceilings directly connected to interior living areas are dry walled. 

The items above are not a complete list associated with a home inspection.  However, many of these items represent common defects found during the home inspection process.  It is never prudent to hide or cover up problems in your home.  Finding and fixing these problems prior to listing improves your home’s marketability.  If you have had any major home renovations or additions provide the buyer with the appropriate permits and County inspections.  It is always sensible to use a licensed contractor to make repairs on electrical, plumbing, heating / air conditioning, roofs, and foundation / structural systems.  Generally, licensed contractors are insured and they guarantee their work.  Providing professional documentation always puts the buyer’s mind at ease.  Many home inspectors provide pre-sale home assessments or full home inspections to assist in the selling process.  Being prepared will streamline the selling process, and help everyone in your real estate transaction.  Good Luck!