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How do I Prepare for an Inspection as a Seller?

Most of what I talk about in these posts is focused on the person buying the home or hiring me to do the inspection. But if you are selling your home and the buyer is a smart person (like all my beloved readers), you have one of the most nail-biting events coming up: the buyer's inspection. You might be wondering, "What do I DO?! How do I prepare for the inspection?" The day before writing this, I inspected a home that was still occupied. The tenant kept apologizing to me about the mess, assuring me that she was going to clean it up and telling me all the reasons she had not gotten to it. My response was the same that I always give: "There's no need to apologize. I'm the one invading your space!" As a home inspector, it really does not matter to me how frequently you have dusted, or whether your kids' toys are scattered across the living room, or if you have boxes stacked all over the garage because you are in the process of moving. I have three little kids, so as you can imagine I am in no position to be throwing stones about someone having a messy house. The buyer's inspector is not the one purchasing the home, so you do not have to worry about impressing us with bright lighting and shiny clean floors.

That said, there are a few things that you can do to help make things easier, and reduce the odds that you're going to wind up with the inspector returning later.

  1. Make sure the attic access is clear. One of the most frequent responses I get to the question "Where is your attic?" is "We have an attic?" Yes, you almost certainly do. In older homes, your attic access points are often located in closets where you might not notice or think about them. Often, you will have one access hatch for each roof section. One of the best things you can do for the inspection is to clear your belongings out from under the access points to make it easier for the home inspector to get in. If the access is completely blocked, the inspector may have to return later, which can slow things down and inconvenience you, the buyer, and the inspector.

  2. Make sure the electric panel is accessible and can be removed. Some people do not realize that inspectors need to not only be able to access the electric panel, but also remove the cover. This means that not only should you make sure there is a clear path to it, but also, if it is in a finished living space, check to make sure it is not painted shut. Often, especially in older homes, I find electric panel covers that have been painted in place. This makes it difficult or impossible for me to remove them. The result is the buyer asking me to come back to check it out once the sellers have cut the paint. This wastes my time, but it also wastes yours, as you never know what the buyers might decide to do in the in between time. The last thing you want is to have to make another mortgage payment because things got slowed down due to a little paint.

  3. Keep your dogs (and aggressive cats) crated or off the property. Dogs can be great companions, but they can also be unpredictable. This is especially true when a stranger enters their home. Some inspectors have pets of their own, or they may be coming from a previous inspection where pets live, and so they smell like strange animals. This combination of factors can upset dogs and result in unpredictable and sometimes dangerous behaviors. I have been attacked by dogs in the past, and so I am extra wary of other peoples' pets. Even if your dog is the sweetest creature on earth, it is best to keep it far from the inspector, for his sake and for the dog's. (side note: one of the more aggressive pets I encountered was actually a little cross-eyed kitten. It followed me around the house, hissing and doing its best to shred my flesh until I finally trapped it in a bedroom.)

  4. Be prepared to give the inspector space if you are going to be present. Since the pandemic, the number of people who work from home has skyrocketed. For that reason, sellers are often present during inspections. I don't at all mind if you want to be present while I'm doing the inspection. But you also want to ensure that you give the inspector plenty of space to inspect everything. You don't want to be accused of intentionally obstructing the inspection. Additionally, while the home still belongs to you, in most cases the inspection belongs to the buyer. That means that the inspector is not allowed to share information with you. Unless an inspector finds a safety issue or a leak that needs to be addressed immediately, they aren't going to be allowed to tell you what they are seeing. That might not seem fair, but them's the rules.

  5. Milk and cookies are optional. Inspectors aren't Santa Claus. If anything, we're more like Krampus. You don't have to leave snacks or water or anything out for us. Don't get me wrong: I always appreciate the offer (though I always decline). It is a kind gesture, and it never hurts to befriend people, but there is no need to be the host for an inspector.

  6. Ask the inspector. This is the closest thing I have to a catchphrase, but whenever you are in doubt, ask the inspector what they need from you. Inspectors are always happy to answer questions, especially when those questions are along the lines of "How can I make your job easier?" And, as always, you can feel free to reach out to Hane Home Inspections for guidance, even if we aren't working together.

Hopefully, this little list is helpful. I know that the inspection can be a very stressful time for everyone. That is doubly so if you did not get a pre-listing inspection (you can click here for an explanation of why you should). But don't worry: we inspectors aren't actually out to get anyone.

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