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Sellers: How to Navigate Your Home Inspection

Woohoo! You've received an offer on your home. Although it's an awesome first step towards selling your home, there are a few more pieces of business to attend to before you can officially celebrate.

As a home seller, having your home inspected can be a nail-biting experience. Despite your best efforts to keep up with all routine maintenance and repairs, there can be underlying issues that only show up during an inspection. Considering how the inspection report can play a major role in selling your home, it's no wonder why so much emphasis is put on this stage of the home selling process.

what sellers can expect at a home inspection

First things first, who pays?

On the upside, at least in most cases, the home buyer will be the one who orders and pays for the home inspection. The national average cost for an inspection is $315 ( However, things such as size, location and other factors may influence this cost.

How to Prepare

The best thing you can do to prepare for a home inspection is to heed the advice given by your Real Estate Agent. It's likely they've navigated many inspections and have insight into what you can expect. In most cases, you've already talked to your Agent about any major issues you were aware of — such as a new roof or HVAC unit — and have resolved the problems before listing your home. However, a home inspection is designed to comb through many areas of your home and identify issues that may go undetected by the untrained eye.

Above all else, don't ever try to hide any defects that you know about in your home. Chances are the inspector will still find the issue and you could potentially land in hot water for trying to conceal a known problem.

Depending on the advice given by your Real Estate Agent, you may consider a pre-inspection. This can be ordered and paid for by you as the home seller prior to any inspections to be ordered later by a potential buyer. By doing this you will gain a fairly clear idea of any issues beforehand that must be resolved.

Remember the inspector will be evaluating many aspects of your home, with an approximate 1,600 point checklist! Some of these items include the breaker box, attic, basement, crawlspace, etc. So it's important to make sure that they are easily accessible, which means you may need to move that heavy cabinet or stack of neglected moving boxes out of the way. If in doubt check with your Real Estate Agent beforehand.

Day of the Inspection

Most home inspections take about 2 to 3 hours or about an hour per 1,000 square feet. While it's not required that you leave, it's highly recommended that you, your family and any pets make plans to be away from your home for the duration of the inspection. Having the seller present during the home inspection is really awkward for the buyer, inspector and Agent and could impact your sale, so it's strongly discouraged. The inspector, potential buyers and both the Buyer's and Seller's Agents should be present for the inspection process.

what gets inspected at a home inspection?

What gets inspected?

According to ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), a home inspector will check many, but not all aspects of a home. At a high level here is what they typically evaluate:

  • Interior of the home
  • Exterior of the home
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • HVAC
  • Foundation

Things you might expect an inspection to cover but likely do not include:

  • Termites
  • Mold/Mildew
  • Radon/Asbestos
  • Pools

The home inspector may note any of these items in general but a more thorough inspection of these is usually a separate charge. In many states, the termite and well/septic inspections are paid for by the seller and the other inspections are paid for by the buyer. However, every state is different, so be sure to ask your Real Estate Agent upfront so you know what to expect.

The Hard Part is Done

Phew! Once the inspection is complete the report should be released within 24–48 hours. The time frame for the buyer to complete the inspection and provide an inspection addendum with any requested repairs to the seller is typically stated in the Purchase Agreement.

Since the homebuyer is the one who ordered and paid for the inspection, the report will be sent to them first. As the home seller, you typically don't see the actual report but instead receive any requests for repairs from the Buyer's Agent as an Inspection Addendum, which will be negotiated between both parties.

Home inspection report

What to Expect

This is one of the only times that it's okay to expect the worst. Remember, it's the inspector's job to find as many potential issues as possible — after all, that's what they're trained to do. The hope would be that the inspector doesn't find anything major like a foundation issue (this still may not be a deal-breaker!)

However, even smaller issues will likely become a bargaining chip for the buyers. This is where it becomes so important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced Real Estate Agent. They will be able to advise you on what may be reasonable versus unreasonable.

Now what?

After receiving any requests from the homebuyer, you should first review everything with your Real Estate Agent. You may decide to resolve none of the requests, some or all of them but that decision will be left up to you. And remember, you are able to negotiate with the buyer through your Agent as well.

It's likely that your Real Estate Agent will highly recommend fixing anything that will cause another buyer to balk, create safer living conditions or could prevent the buyer from getting a mortgage. You may also decide that it's better to give the buyers a credit to complete the work once they have moved in versus completing the work beforehand.

Once an agreement has been reached, everyone involved can breathe a huge sigh of relief as one of the major milestones in buying and selling a home has been completed!

Home inspections can be daunting, especially as a homeowner looking to sell. It can mean all the difference with regards to time to sell and money involved, and can also expedite or impede a potential sale. Unlike many other things in a real estate transaction, an inspection isn't something you can be totally prepared for. However, with the help of a great Real Estate Agent, you can navigate the home inspection process with ease and be on the way to your next dream home in no time!

Want more advice about all things home — including homebuying or selling advice? Nestiny is a great place for homebuyer education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a Ready Report that will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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