The steps in the home-selling process can seem endless, but there’s one milestone you can almost always depend on: the home inspection. While not necessarily required (depending on the type of financing the buyer is using), an inspection is a standard practice, and you should anticipate that there will be one when you sell your home. With that said, you’ll probably have some home inspection questions that arise as things get underway. Here’s an overview of what to keep in mind as the seller.
In terms of timing, you can expect to have a home inspection once a buyer places a contract on your home. Typically, the buyer will pay this cost, since its purpose is to protect them. To make sure everything’s in working condition, the inspector will check:
One home inspection question looms large above the others: “Am I required to fix all the problems before selling?” The answer: It depends on what the problem is.
While most buyers are going to ask for every single thing to be repaired (even a missing lightbulb, because why not?), there are only a few types of issues that are customary for sellers to fix and might make or break the sale. If a home inspector finds an issue that interferes with the proper function of the home or poses a safety risk, you’ll want to strongly consider making the fix, or the buyer may walk away. These types of problems are the ones that typically take a lot of time or money to repair, and unless the buyer intends to flip the home, they won’t want to take on that responsibility at the outset.
On the other hand, minuscule issues may not prevent a buyer from wanting to purchase your home, so it’s not necessary to spend a lot of time worrying about those. There are often so many things going on when you’re trying to sell a home — packing, moving and perhaps going through your own homebuying process — that there’s no time to deal with pesky repairs that don’t affect the quality of the home. If you’re feeling generous, you can always offer a monetary credit for repairs.
If you’re planning to sell your home, you’ll want to get it in selling shape ahead of time. This includes everything from keeping your lawn manicured to doing a deep clean and, of course, fixing any glaring issues — if there’s an obvious problem, the buyer is going to want it fixed anyway.
If you’re comfortable investing a little of your own money, it can’t hurt to get your own home inspection done prior to putting your home on the market. This can help you avoid surprising issues that pop up during the buyer’s inspection and allow you time to fix them on your own before a buyer enters the picture. It also provides a baseline to compare the buyer’s inspection report against: If something major turns up on their inspection that wasn’t on yours, you can look further into the issue with your inspector.
At the end of the day, it’s your home, and you can always refuse to make requested repairs — but by the same token, the buyer can always walk away from the sale. If you have home inspection questions or aren’t sure what repairs you should be making, consult your real estate agent to see what the standard is in your area and what he or she thinks you’ll need to fix in order to sell your home quickly.