Bring on the Home Inspection

You’ve hired a great Realtor and accepted an offer to sell your home. You know your house. You’ve taken care of it, but it’s not perfect. What is going to turn up in the home inspection? This has got to be one of the most agonizing parts of the selling process. Here are some tips and pointers to help know what to expect.

ladderGet your house ready
The inspector is going to be going on the roof, opening and closing every door and window, and thoroughly investigating the entire house. You need to make his job possible by creating easy access to the attic hatch and the crawl space entrance. These are often in closets that are full of coats, luggage, and assorted personal items. Find these entries and clear out the path to the opening. You can just set things in the adjoining room and then put it all back when the inspection is over. Likewise, the inspector needs to get to the electrical panel. If it’s behind stacked boxes in the garage, it’s a problem. Move those boxes, shelves and toys so that the inspector does not have to.

radonIf there is going to be a radon test, you need to maintain “closed house” conditions for 12 hours prior to the test starting. You can come and go, just don’t leave doors or windows standing open. These conditions must be maintained during the duration of the test (usually 48 hours). This can be hard in the summer, but you must abide by the guidelines or the test will be defective.

Stay Away
Home inspections will last anywhere from 2-5 hours depending upon the inspector and the inspections being done. It’s not uncommon for multiple inspections to be done including sewer scopes and air samples. So be patient. Please don’t be circling the block. This creates pressure upon the buyer and the buyer’s Realtor to hurry to conclusion. This is not fair to the buyer who has an agreement that allows him the opportunity to do his own investigation.

There are two problems that occur if you are present at your buyer’s home inspection. First, the buyer feels awkward. The inspection will specifically be searching for defects. Finding them creates conversation that the buyer simply prefers you not hear. Second, you will put yourself in a position of being asked questions. A person selling a home wants the inspection to go well. While trying to be helpful, you may actually dig your self into a hole by suggesting you’ll take care of issues when you haven’t seen the full list of demands, or worse, representing knowledge you don’t really have. Your roof may not have ever leaked, but do you really know if it’s been flashed correctly? Stay away and stay out of trouble.

crawlspaceBe Reasonable
A successful sale needs both the buyer and the seller treating one another fairly and reasonably. Everything is negotiable and that is why Realtors are there to represent you. A Realtor will know if the items on the repair list are necessary for financing, are within the scope of normal requests, and if the sales price reflects the condition of the property.

So don’t panic, all will be well. Just know what to expect and do your part to get your house ready and accessible.

Thanks for reading,

Selling or buying a home during the holidays

I am frequently asked if the winter, and specifically the holidays, are a good time to be selling or buying a home. My answer is yes. There are several advantages to selling or buying at this time of year.

First, a home that is warm and decorated for the holidays is extremely inviting. There is such a contrast from being outside and coming in. It really makes the home embrace the buyer. However, this means that you need to make that extra effort to create this experience. Keep the house heated properly. Homes where the heat is turned down, or even left off if the house is vacant, can actually be colder inside than out. When this happens both the buyer and the Realtor will be in a hurry to leave and get warmed up back in the car. Also, turn on every light in the house and open every curtain or blind. Buyers want a house that has lots of light. Because so many of our days are gray, it is important that you create the best light possible. I have recently shown several homes to clients that were great values and in great condition, but ruled out because they gave the impression of being too dark.

Be on top of the holiday decorations. They can enhance the look of the house, but don’t over do it and allow the house to look cluttered or small because it is filled with too much stuff. Also, take them down in a timely fashion.

There are several advantages to the quality of buyers who are out looking at this time of year. While there are fewer of them, those who are looking are serious. People are busy at the holidays so a person who is taking the time to look at houses is a person who really needs to move. In addition, many corporations have fiscal years that match the calendar year. This means that they are trying to move their transferring executives before December 31st. This is a great time of year to be marketing executive quality homes. (I’d would characterize those as being homes priced at $400,000 or greater).

What about buying at this time of year? I think there are four pretty strong advantages. 1) Interest rates are historically at their lowest in the winter. As the market picks up in the spring, interest rates trend up. 2) There aren’t many buyers looking so sellers will really jump through hoops for you. You may be the only game in town and they will work very hard to sell you their home. 3) If a house looks good in the winter, it is going to be spectacular in the summer. You can really get an idea of the actual house in terms of the light it has and the condition of the property. And 4) this is the time of year when a home inspector can most easily find water issues. If the basement leaks, you’ll more likely learn about it in the winter.

It is completely understandable if you feel like you want to get the holidays behind you before selling or buying a home. But if you do need to move, you have quite a few strong reasons why this time of year can work to your advantage.