You visit your real estate agent as you prepare to put your house on the market. You're surprised to hear your agent wants you to schedule a home inspection. Why would you need to hire an inspector when you haven't had any issues with your home? Learn more about home inspections and how they can benefit the seller and buyer.
A home inspection is an essential part of the home selling process. It sheds light on minor and major issues that may need to be remedied before putting your house on the market. Buyers don't want to be surprised by issues, so it's best to have an inspection performed before listing your house for sale so you can disclose any problems.
Home inspections began in the 1950's and have evolved into an essential part of any home sale, although they are not required. Finding an inspector who is ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) certified is recommended. An ASHI inspector follows strong Standard of Practice for Home Inspections and a Code of Ethics ensuring buyers and sellers receive the most accurate information on the condition of their home.
Your real estate agent will help you set up the inspection and will likely recommend an inspector he/she has worked with and trusts. Research the inspector, ask for recommendations and, if unsatisfied with your findings, seek out another inspector. You can go to the ASHI website, enter your city/state and see a list of inspectors who are ASHI certified. Also, you may want to talk to friends, who have recently sold or purchased a home, to get their recommendations.
Inspectors come with a fee but it varies from area to area and is dependent on various factors, like the size and age of the home. You can shop around for an inspector who fits your budget, but beware the low-priced inspector who might rush through the job without being thorough.
You may choose to be present for the inspection, although it isn't required. If you do attend the inspection, you can ask questions about the inspector's findings and share improvements you've made to your home that might otherwise be overlooked. If you're unable to attend, have your agent go in your place or plan a meeting with the inspector to go over the results.
What can you expect from the inspector's visit? He/she will visually inspect various areas of your home including, but not limited to, the following:
- Heating system
- Central air conditioning system
- Interior plumbing
- Visible insulation
- Structural components
Your inspector will provide a report outlining his/her findings. This report will include all issues and damages and the potential cost for repairs. Repairs that may need to be tackled in the future will also be outlined (ex. aging roof which will need to be replaced in the future). An inspection will not reveal hidden problems like mold, asbestos, or pests.
You and your agent can decide which issues to tackle before putting your house on the market, if any, and any remaining issues will be outlined in the listing contract. Potential buyers will review the issues with their agent and typically hire their own inspector for a second opinion. The buyer's agent will include an inspection clause in the sales contract, making the purchase contingent on the inspector's findings -- if too many issues exist, the buyers may opt out of the contract. There may be quite a few differences between the 2 inspections. You and your agent can discuss your options. If you feel your inspection, not the buyer's inspection, better illustrates the condition of your home, your agent might sit down with the buyer's agent to review both inspection reports and find some common ground. As the seller, you may need to fix a few more things to ultimately please the buyer.
If there's an expensive future repair, like replacing a roof, your agent might encourage you to lower the price of your home to compensate for the extra cost. If the buyer's inspector feels that the roof needs immediate attention, a buyer may ask to have the roof replaced before they move in, at your expense. In this case, a contingency will be added to the sales contract (buyer agrees to purchase the home, contingent on the roof being replaced).
As you can see, getting a home inspection is an important part of selling a house, and it should be performed by a certified ASHI inspector. It's best to know what issues exist so you can confidently put your home on the market in the best selling condition. Talk to your real estate agent about scheduling an inspection to avoid unpleasant surprises once your home goes under contract.