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Ask Adam: Preparing for a Home Inspection

By ARLnow.com

Tuesday - 5/14/2013, 3:30pm  ET

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

Question: We just put our house on the market.  In anticipation of finding a buyer we would like to prepare for the inevitable home inspection. Can you provide any advice?

A professional home inspector will go from room to room testing the heating, air-conditioning, plumbing, electrical, appliances and smoke detectors. He or she will also evaluate the structure, roof, interior and exterior of the home.  What the home inspector finds to be positive and negative about the home will greatly shape the homebuyers perception of the investment they are in the process of making.

Don’t forget that the standard home inspection contingency usually provides them with the ability to cancel the contract. Yes, this does happen regardless of the market. Even too many little things can spook a homebuyer because they consider them clues about the overall condition of the home.

It’s a lot easier to be proactive about preparing your home for a home inspection. You will avoid opening up negotiation over a laundry list of repair requests and/or monetary credits. It leads to a transaction that is likely to progress smoothly and it is likely to save you money.

One of my favorite real estate authors (Jennifer Allan) put together a home inspection checklist for sellers that I have borrowed from and added to over the years, resulting in the following:

  • HVAC system — have it cleaned and serviced. If repairs are needed, make them. Make sure it has a clean filter.
  • Clean heating and cooling registers and vacuum inside if needed.
  • Make sure your windows open, close and lock.
  • Check for leaks in faucets and under sinks.
  • Make sure toilets flush properly and are not wobbly. If wobbly, replace wax ring and bolt down firmly.
  • If warm enough outside, de-winterize hose bibs.
  • Make sure all light fixtures and light bulbs are working.
  • Ensure that sinks and tubs drain quickly.
  • Clean gutters.
  • Replace cracked or broken window panes.
  • Caulk around tubs and showers.
  • Clean out grime in faucet filters (to maximize water pressure).
  • Ensure doors open, close and lock smoothly.
  • Ensure drain spouts extend away from the foundation.
  • Make sure anti-tip bracket is in place for the stove.
  • Run all appliances if the house has been sitting vacant. Listen for odd noises and check for leaks.
  • Inspect roof and make repairs as needed.
  • Test electrical sockets for the correct polarity.
  • Test smoke detectors.
  • Provide receipts and warranties for recent repairs and servicing.

If you are living in the house, chances are you know of other fixes that should be made prior to the home inspection.  It’s always better to make the fixes upfront than to have someone else mandate how the fixes should be made.

I have not yet employed this strategy, but I have seen listings where the seller actually has a home inspection completed on the home prior to putting it on the market. The home owner can use the report as a guide to proactively making repairs. He or she may also decide to furnish the report to potential buyers if they think it positively reflects the condition of the home.

Inspections can range anywhere from $250 to over $700 (depending on the size of the home) so this is not an inexpensive endeavor. It will however, put you in the best position to catch all the fixes that will show up in a home inspection and offer a truly move-in ready home.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.