The title of this article may seem misplaced to some of you, as many people understand that the home inspection is typically a topic discussed with buyers not sellers. While it is true that buyers in North Carolina almost always hire and pay for a home inspection after they are under contract with the seller, it however will almost certainly cost the seller money if the report comes back, lets say… “Less than stellar”.
A brief outline of a typical scenario here in the Raleigh market: The buyer of a home, having just had to increase his offer price in a multiple offer situation finally wins the bidding war and goes under contract with the seller. The buyer feels like they are paying top dollar for the home and wants to make sure that the home is in good condition, so they order and pay for a home inspection during the due diligence period. The home inspector finds several issues and problems with the home and the buyer then asks the seller to (address/correct/repair) these items with licensed professionals.
Now the seller is caught. He either has to make the repairs and pay for them or offer financial concessions. While the seller is not legally obligated to do anything, the buyer also has the ability to walk away from the contract, which is the leverage the buyer will use to motivate the seller to making the repairs. “So what”, you say? “Let the buyer walk! Just sell the home again!” Well just because the current buyer walked away and the seller did not make the repairs, does not get the seller off the hook from actually making these repairs. Depending on what was found in the report, these items may now become material facts that need to be disclosed to future buyers. So the seller in this case still pays, by either lowering the price of the home, longer days on market, or paying professionals to make the corrections.
I also want to mention that the inspection report can look rather scary to some buyers just simply from the inspector’s protective language contained in the report. As example, a home missing the small, $1, dollar anti-tip bracket on the dishwasher, can turn into a “death booby trap for newborns” by the time a buyer finishes reading the inspection report!
Which brings me to my point. I always recommend for my sellers to get ahead of the home inspector by addressing common items that inspectors find PRIOR to putting the home on the market. In my 17 years’ experience of buying and selling homes, I can recite the top 20 or 25 things inspectors find and their language in the report. So baring the truly big surprise items, I want to list a few of the simple things that sellers can do to make the inspection report much cleaner and the transaction go much smoother.
- Change or clean Air Filters
- Check all the batteries in the smoke detectors
- Make sure EVERY light bulb works-especially exterior lights and spotlights
- Replace missing switch or receptacle covers
- Clean gutters and down spouts, and make sure run off is away from the home
- Trim back and tree limbs or bushes so they are not touching the roof, or siding of the home
- Keep foundation vents open
- Have the HVAC system serviced and keep the records-have any legitimate repairs made now. Do not give the buyer “ammo” on this later.
- Make sure the garage doors reverse with down pressure
- Make sure all sinks shut off, and do not drip. If they do, fix now.
- Go ahead and replace any “differed maintenance items” that are obvious…i.e. Rotten siding, fascia or trim.
- If you have a gas fire place, make sure the pilot is lit and the fireplace functions. Repair NOW if necessary.
So these are just a sample of things that I suggest to sellers as I guide them towards successful transactions. When I represent sellers, my goal is to help them sell for top dollar and in the shortest amount of time. To help accomplish this we try to limit buyer surprises along the way and avoid giving buyers new found leverage after contract. Many times so much can be avoided, just by doing a little “preventative medicine”.
All the best, and let me know if I can help you or your friends buy or sell residential real estate!