Getting Through the Home Inspections

Now that you and the buyer have agreed to price and terms, and have signed the home purchase contract, in most cases, the buyer’s inspections will quickly follow.

Should you be worried about what the inspector might find? The answer depends on the condition of your home, what the buyer’s expectations are, and what you disclosed in your disclosure package. Keeping in mind that disclosure laws and customary real estate practices, here are some suggestions that can help you get through the home inspection process more smoothly:

  1. When in doubt, disclose it. It is always better to disclose all the problems with your house than not enough. If you fail to disclose a latent defect (hidden problem) or other problems with your house there could be legal consequences. Every home has problems, so disclose them. Doing so will ensure that there are no surprises during the inspections and your contract will not fall apart during the inspections.
  2. Leave the home during the inspections. For several reasons, it’s better for you to be absent during the buyer’s home inspection. The inspector needs the freedom to do the inspection without interference. If you are there, it may be viewed by the buyer that you are trying to persuade the inspector to give a more favorable report. Your agent should be familiar with the home inspection process and be able to act as your representative. In fact, many listing agents prefer that the seller not be at home during the buyer’s home inspection.
  3. Be understanding. Some sellers mistakenly assume the home inspector is an adversary. Professional home inspectors will not try to kill the sale of your home by finding every little flaw. The home inspector’s responsibility is to provide the buyer with a fair assessment of the property. Wouldn’t you want the same?
  4. Don’t attempt to refute the inspector’s finding during the inspection. If you do stay at the home during the home inspections (you shouldn’t), stay clear of the inspector and buyer. Home Inspectors do not appreciate being followed around by defensive homeowners, or their listing agent. The time to explain and negotiate will come after you receive the inspection report along with the buyer’s requested repairs.
  5. Don’t make statements about your home that are beyond your personal knowledge or can’t be verified. For instance, if the inspector asks you how old the roof is or when certain appliances were installed, check your records before you answer. If you have documentation, provide a copy of it. If repairs or modifications were made prior to your purchasing the home, don’t guess when that work was performed. The same caution about misrepresentations applies to questions about whether permits were obtained for remodeling, or how you determined the square footage of your home listed in your marketing.
  6. Don’t block access to normal living areas of your home. If the home inspector can’t enter a room or complete some other aspect of the inspection, that will be noted in his or her report and the buyer may question it or request another inspection after the areas are made accessible.
  7. Make agreed-upon repairs promptly. The buyer may ask the inspector to reinspect the completed repairs you agree to make as a result of the inspection. The sooner you make the repairs, the sooner the inspection contingency can be closed. Delaying the repairs until the last minute won’t stop the buyer from having those items reinspected, but it could delay the closing.