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No one wants trouble in a home inspection.

    So why do so many sellers invite it?

There are 3 Simple Steps to Success in home inspections that every seller can use.

     1.  Fix it; don’t hide it.

      Playing “cat and mouse” with a home inspection is an expressway to trouble.  Once a home inspector finds the first concealed defect, a “red alert” kicks in.  Now everything, absolutely everything, has to be checked under a magnifying glass.  If a seller hid one problem, they probably hid others.

     Sellers who bet the inspector will miss something are asking for trouble.  If they’re wrong, and the inspector catches it, the report will show no mercy.  It will not be mean, but it will be blunt.

     And, let’s not forget that, in the end, the main point is the avoid post-closing problems.  So even if a seller fools the inspector (it happens), they may be buying a lawsuit after they thought the deal was closed.  There is an easier, simpler way.

     If you know something is a problem, leave a note.  If you know all the garage outlets reset at a GFI receptacle on the front of the house, leave the inspector a note saying so.  Don’t make him spend a half hour rooting around to figure it out.  If the pit bull is in a bedroom, leave a note on the door.  If a feature is mysterious – like a laundry chute that drops into a kitchen cabinet – let the inspector know.  If the attic fan does not work, put a note by the switch.  Keep it simple.  This is not a test — for anyone.

Solve most problems by fixing what you know is wrong.  If you can’t fix it, disclose it.  Then explain that it is in the price.
Concealers usually get caught, sooner or later.  Then the cost is several times the fix.   On average, seller repairs average about one-third the cost of buyer replacements.

Sellers succeed most when they are wise, not sly or sneaky.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Full disclosure is attractive, safe, and smart. 

     2.  Prep the house. 

It is the seller’s job to make the home accessible for inspection.  This is not a favor.  It is the buyer’s contract right.

      Sellers may incur a charge if important parts of the home are not accessible and the home inspector has to come back a second time to finish the inspection.  They also may risk underwriters refusing mortgage financing.  Save everyone the aggravation.

      The seller may be moving, but that does not make the home inspector a mover.  Or an animal control officer.  Home inspectors do not pack boxes, or move them for access.

The home should be cleared for easy access to all the systems and components when the inspector arrives.  Don’t tell inspectors the attic hatch is right behind that antique bureau. Move the bureau so the hatch is readily accessible.  Same for hatches in closets.  Take the linens out so it’s easy to get a ladder up – without raining attic insulation on your clean clothes. No inspector wants to soil your laundry.

     If the attic ladder or hatch is in the garage right over the jet skis, or your Shelby GT Mustang, move them.  Inspectors will not risk damaging them, or anything else.

     Open locks that could get in the way.  Padlocked exterior electric panels, garages, and fence gates all get reported.

     If an inspector cannot get into a garage, attic or a crawl space, or getting there would risk damage, the report will say so.  That’s required by law.

    Don’t forget to turn off the security system.   Sellers also should be sure their agent has the alarm code, just in case.  You have given permission for the inspector to be in the home.  If the alarm sounds and police show up, the seller owns the bill.  False alarms are owned by the homeowner.

If the dishwasher is full, home inspectors usually will not run it.  Same for the clothes washer and dryer.  Lots of people do not like inspectors washing their dishes or clothes. The report will say it could not be inspected.

     But nothing says the kitchen or the laundry has to be spotless.  Clearing the way for home inspectors does not mean buying a Pod and emptying the house.  Homes do not have to look like a Good Housekeeping snapshot.  It may be better staging or marketing if they do, but home inspectors do not rate housekeeping. You can bet inspectors have seen everything.  They just have to be readily accessible.

Inaccessible crawls and attic often result in turn-downs by mortgage underwriters like FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.  Sellers have no one to blame but themselves when those deals go south.

     Making sure everything is accessible shows consideration for the home inspector.  It’s not unusual to get back what you give.

     Is it really necessary to add that all the utilities MUST be on for a complete home inspection?  If the inspector has to come back, then the seller might incur the charges.

     A home inspection can clinch a home sale, or create problems.  Sellers can eliminate most problems, along with delays in closings, simply by doing their part.

     3.  Pre-Inspect. 

The single fastest track to success is taken by the smartest sellers.  Get your homes inspected before it is listed.

      It’s like marketing magic when you get a Pre-Inspected home.  That’s especially true in markets like Kentucky, where pre-listing home inspections are just catching on.  It really makes a home stand out — especially for buyers moving here.  Pre-listing inspections are common in many other states, making those buyers more comfortable with sellers who pre-inspection, or wonder why a seller did not get one.

     You will minimize problems with the buyer when you Pre-Inspect the home.  (Sellers should assume buyers will get their own home inspection.)

     Pre-Listing Inspections are a seller preview.  There’s no better “heads up.”  Sellers tend to love their homes, enough that “love is blind” is to what a home inspector will see.  A preview tells sellers what to expect when a buyer inspects the home.

    Pre-Listing Inspections close faster and easier Nothing eliminates more unwelcome surprises between a contract and the closing.

That’s partly because buyers trust Pre-Inspected home sellers more.  Sellers earn trust when they disclose problems, and especially when they fix them.  Sellers with Pre-Listing Inspections often leave the report out for buyers, along with repair invoices.  Who wouldn’t feel better that way?  Some buyers decide to forego their own inspection when the read a good Pre-Lising Inspection report.

      The most savvy sellers advertise “Pre-Inspected Home” on the “For Sale” sign in the yard.  (InspectHomes provides them free of charge with all pre-listing inspections.)

     Pre-Inspected homes are buyer magnets.  They attract more buyers.  Offers are a percentage of showings.

     When buyers or agents chose between several homes, they visit the Pre-Inspected homes first.  Everyone knows there will be less problems, a simpler deal, and a cooperative, knowledgeable seller.  Who would not chose a pre-inspected home over a shot in the dark?

    Pre-listing inspections are so effective that they are virtually standard in other markets, like New England.  Agents there often throw in Pre-Listing Inspections to attract listings.

    Pre-Listing Inspections are just starting to catch on in Kentucky.  As a result, Pre-Listing inspections get more bang for the buck, because Pre-Inspected homes stand out even more here.  The most recent Pre-Listing Inspection we did, for example, sold in five days a few thousand dollars above the asking price.   With no last minute surprises, a house will close without a hitch.

     The simplest path to Inspection success is a Pre-Listing Inspection.  Nothing does more, at less cost, to attract buyers, and help everyone have smooth sailing to the closing. Full disclosure is attractive.

     Whatever the situation, sellers using these Three Keys to home inspection success can take pain out of the process and turn it into gain.

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