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Things to Inspect Before Selling a Home

November 1st, 2018 11:10 AM by Cat Moe


Article by Bill Gassett

There is no rule that says you have to inspect your home before you sell it. Getting a pre-sale home inspection however, is not a bad idea especially if you want to get the best possible price.

As familiar as you are with your home, there are often issues that you will not be aware of.

Home inspectors are trained to identify these issues, which can give you a leg up on problems that might kill a sale or seriously devalue your home. So when a seller asks me “should I have my home inspected before selling” my answer is usually why not.

Understanding what things to inspect before selling a home will put you on the right tract to a successful sale. Pre-Sale Home Inspection—Getting Ahead of the Curve.

Selling a home can be a stressful experience, even when everything goes right. There is a lot to do and complications tend to pop up. While your Real Estate agent can help you navigate the process as well as possible, there is one thing you can do to greatly simplify things—get a pre-sale home inspection.

An inspection will let you know the condition of your home. With this knowledge you can decide what to fix to maximize your home’s value.

You can also go into the sale fully aware of issues that may concern buyers. Knowledge is power, especially in a home sale. Getting rid of problems before a buyer’s home inspection is just plain smart!

Many of the things I mention below are issues that could cause your sale to fall apart. By addressing these common concerns, you’ll increase the odds of not losing a buyer. The Most Important Things to Check Before You Sell

1. Mold
Mold is a big concern for buyers. While the verdict is still out on whether minor mold problems in a home truly contributes to health issues in anyone other than those with a mold allergy, that doesn’t stop potential buyers from steering clear of moldy homes. The difficulty with mold is that it tends to hide in places you never go. Attics, basements, crawl spaces, etc. Anywhere that water penetrates the home can become a breeding ground for mold.

Fortunately, mold remediation experts can address the issue fairly easily. You just need to know it is there so you can bring them in to take care of the problem. Knowing that proper measures have been taken to clear up mold will make buyers much more comfortable.

There are not many things that will stop a home sale quicker than having mold. Home buyer’s have put this at the top of the list for things to look for in a home inspection. Buyer’s are rarely ever comfortable buying a home with mold. My recommendation would be to look at the sheathing of your roof in the attic. If you see any patchy black areas, I would consult with a mold expert to find out if it is present.

2. Radon
Radon gas can collect in homes that that have sufficient concentrations of uranium in the soil they are built on. As the uranium breaks down it releases radon. Radon has been found in homes all across the country. It can certainly be hazardous to your health and the health of anyone in the home if the concentrations are high enough.

The EPA has set a limited in residential homes of 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCI/L). The testing of radon is rather simple. Most often a radon test kit is left in the home for a minimum of forty eight hours and then sent to a lab for a reading. Anything 4 picocuries or over should be remediated.

There are remediation options for radon in many cases, though, which can be employed before you put the home on the market. Radon is relatively inexpensive to remediate. You are looking on average from around $1000-1500 dollars to lower radon levels, depending on what area of the country you are located.

3. Well Water Inspect Your Well Before Selling
Well water is a concern for potential buyers for several reasons. They want to know that the water is safe to drink. They also want to know that the well is functional and provide enough water.

Does it have a decent flow rate? No one wants to buy a home and discover that they do not have a reliable source of clean, fresh, safe water. You can alleviate these concerns by getting the well tested before you put the home on the market.

Typically, a well test is conducted by a buyer during the home inspection contingency period. The test will include checking the quality and quantity of the water. If you ever notice that you lose water pressure or run out of water when using multiple water sources, you have a well issue!

While you might have lived with this problem for years most buyers will not! A new home owner is going to want assurances they can take a shower and run a load of laundry without losing water.

It goes without saying that buyers are not going to accept a contaminated drinking source either. By conducting these well tests before selling, you’ll know they won’t kill your home sale. One thing worth mentioning is that many standard well quality tests do not check for radon in the water. You have to ask for this to be tested. I would highly recommend you do so as many buyers will. Radon found in the water is less common but it is also far more expensive to correct.

4. Septic System
If you have a septic system, be prepared for buyers to ask questions about it. While a well-cared for septic system can work great for years, buyers are not going to just take your word for how great your system is.

They will want it inspected, and if that inspection finds issues, they will most likely demand that those issues be fixed. You can avoid the potential headaches of such a situation by getting the system inspected now. And if there are problems, you can fix them before a buyer ever steps on your property.

In some states, including Massachusetts, testing a septic system is required of home sellers. In Massachusetts it is called a Title V septic inspection. The seller must provide the buyer with a clean bill of health. In fact, lenders will not make a loan on a property with a failed septic system.

There are essentially three components to a septic system – the septic tank, the distribution box and the leach field. All three of these components need to be in sound condition at the time of the inspection.

5. Pests/Bugs
Check for pests before sellingInfestations are a major concern of buyers, especially termite infestations. Because the signs of such infestations can be difficult to spot, especially if they are in out-of-the-way areas of the home, it is necessary to bring in an inspector to look things over.

Pest control professionals have a variety of effective methods for eliminating pests, so you should be able to address the problem. And if repairs need to be made due to the infestations, you can make sure they get done before you list the home.

A good general home inspector can check for termites and other bugs. If damage is discovered a professional termite company should be brought in for further evaluation.

6. General Home Inspection
A general home inspection should include a review of all the fundamental structural and mechanical features of your home. Hiring a thorough home inspector should be paramount to make sure you catch any issues. Your real estate agent should be able to provide some excellent references.

Plumbing
Buyers are going to want a functional plumbing system, one that can be relied on to work well for an extended period of time after they buy the home.

The inspector will check faucets, toilets, sinks, showers, etc., as well as the pipes that are accessible throughout and underneath the home. You do not have to update everything in the home to have it sell, but you will need to ensure that the actual plumbing is fully operational—no major leaks, clogs, pipe degradation, etc.

Heating
The furnace is a major concern of home buyers, and for good reason. Replacing an HVAC system is not cheap. Most systems have a lifespan of about 20-30 years, something to consider about your own system.

Are you close to the time when the system needs to be replaced? Buyers will be very interested in the condition of the heating system, so it makes sense to verify the status now for yourself. Then you can determine if it is a worthwhile investment to repair/replace the system, or if you think you can sell for the price you want without doing so. Your Realtor can help you judge the best approach.

Electrical
The electrical system needs to be not only functional, but safe. If your home’s electrical system is old enough, you may run into issues with buyers who want something more modern and capable of handling the load of their digital lifestyles.

Having an inspector give you the low-down about your electrical system can be quite helpful in planning your sales strategy. Obviously you need to fix safety/code issues. But the only way to know if your current electrical system is going to be acceptable to buyers is to talk with your Realtor.

Roof
The roof is a big deal to buyers. It seals the home and protects everything inside, so it makes sense to ensure that it is fully functional. Roofs are also expensive to replace, which is why buyers are going to want to know the exact condition of your roof before they make an offer.

If they are going to have to repair or replace the roof soon, the offer will reflect that. You need to know the exact state of your roof as well, so you can determine what improvements you want to make, if any, before you list the home. There are usually some clear signs you need a new roof. A professional home inspector can give you a reasonably good idea of how much life is left.

Foundation
The foundation is another top concern of buyers. A strong foundation is obviously necessary for the home to be livable.Foundation issues can be costly to fix as well. Many buyers will not want to take on such problems if they can avoid it.

An inspection can tell you what your foundation actually looks like and what issues, if any, you need to fix. If issues exist, it will be far easier to take care of them now and sell the home than it will be to take care of them after you get an offer.

While hairline cracks are not typically an issue, major structural cracking is a different story. Having a clean bill of health on a foundation is a major relief to any home buyer. Understanding what to inspect before selling your house can save you time and money!Click To Tweet

Check Now to Simplify Your Sale Later Pre-Sale
Home InspectionPlenty of homeowners take a leap of faith and list their homes without getting them inspected first. Sometimes the sale goes through fine. Other times, sellers find themselves with a long list of problems they have to fix before another buyer will come close to their homes.

As a seller, you are better off getting your home checked out before you ever list. For a small price up front, you simplify the sales process and avoid a lot of potential hassle.

Without a doubt one of the worst things that can happen as a seller is having to put your home back on the market due to a failed inspection. From that point forward your real estate agent will have to explain to all future buyers why the home came back on the market.

Real Estate agents cannot hide problems with a house. Issues discovered during a home inspection must be disclosed to all future buyers. When I am counseling a seller on what is a reasonable repair request, it always comes down to whether or not the next buyer will expect a repair or not.

Some buyers will be over the top and want perfection. This is not the purpose of a home inspection.

A home inspection is for the purpose of discovering major structural, mechanical or safety issues. Many buyers and their real estate agents have lost sight of this fact. By eliminating major problems, you’ll put yourself on the right track to a successful home sale.

One last piece of advice – ask your listing agent to attend the home inspection to represent your best interests. A significant amount of agents do not attend home inspections. The best agents do.

You would not believe the amount of time home inspection issues are exaggerated. Quite often what the home inspector says and what is put to paper are too different things.
Your agent should be there to listen and nothing more.

Additional Helpful Home Inspection Articles
Pros and cons of sharing the home inspection report via Conor MacEvelly. Do you really need a home inspection via Michelle Gibson. Putting a house back on the market after an inspection via Kevin Vitali. Why a home inspection is a must do via Kyle Hiscock.

Use these additional home inspection articles from other top real estate pros to make sound decisions.

About the Author: The above Real Estate information on things to inspect before selling a home was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Felt that this article by Bill Gassett was a very good one that outlines exactly what to look for before selling!

You will be able to determine what’s worth fixing up to maximize your home’s value. Let us know here at Nelson-Moe Properties if we can help you with your Real Estate Needs!
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Posted by Cat Moe on November 1st, 2018 11:10 AM

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