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How to Prepare for a Home Inspection When Selling Your House

Home inspector crawling sub-floor area | Matthew Stewart Real Estate Team | Roseville | Granite Bay

Here’s a scary scenario. Imagine you’ve been busy preparing your home to sell for months. You’ve been working diligently with your Realtor, home stager, mortgage lender, and contractor to get everything perfect so that you can sell your home for the most money and move on to your next home. With eager anticipation, you wait for a good offer while your home is on the market and then, you get a great offer!

The excitement is exhilarating. You start thinking about the money that you will make off of your home sale and begin shopping online for your next home. Then, you get an email from your Realtor showing nine major items that the home inspector found while examining your property. Your buyers want all these items fixed before they will buy your home, or the deal is dead. This scenario happens all too often in real estate to those sellers who were not properly coached.

This is an easy situation to avoid though. You need to do a full home inspection yourself to make sure that you are aware of the potential issues that will come up on an inspection report when selling your home. This will keep you from the ultimate shock of your buyer’s repair requests. Once you have gone through this list personally and made proper repairs, Matthew advises his sellers to then hire a home inspector to put together a full report. The timing of this is BEFORE Matthew puts the home "live" on the MLS (multiple listing service). A home inspection is typically a buyers expense but when a seller pays for the report it allows the seller to control the process of repairs (including timing), and not have surprises later once in escrow. More often than not the buyer and their agent will accept the home inspection report furnished to them from the seller.

Here’s a list of the Top 20 items to check, before the home inspection, to sell your home.


1.) Windows/Screens: If there are any cracked/broken windows, damaged or missing screens, they may be written up in the report. Don’t panic. Just repair or replace what you choose in order to keep it off the report. If any double glass panels are “fogged” due to the seal being broken, it will probably be noted as well.

2.) Peeling Paint: Paint doesn’t last forever. It’s important to identify if your home needs new exterior paint before selling. Look for cracked, chipping, or bubbling paint around the exterior of the home, and areas where moisture builds up.

3.) Cracked Caulk: Caulking is important to seal a home from extreme weather conditions. For this reason, many home inspectors will look for cracked caulking around doors, windows, and water areas. This is an easy one to fix. Just purchase some high-grade caulking that fits the application needed and take care of it before the inspector shows up.

4.) Siding/Trim: Check for any loose boards that need to be refastened or replaced before a home inspection. If replacing exterior siding, be sure to match it to the original color and texture to leave a uniform look.

5.) Decks & Fences: Check for boards that need to be replaced, and see if any railing is loose. Check the framing of the fence for loose panels, and secure them back in place as needed.

6.) Positive Drainage: Make sure there is nowhere directly around the outside of the house that rainwater could flow TOWARD the house. Water should do just the opposite for the first three feet. This might mean a little shovel work. Also, make sure that downspouts pour three feet away from the house or into a tray that does the same.

7.) Gutters: If the gutters are in need of cleaning, that may end up on the report. It’s best to clean the gutters before listing your home for sale. This is particularly important if you have a two-story home that overlooks gutters from the upper level windows. Clean gutters send a message to the buyers that the home has been well maintained. It’s an easy chore to knock out.

8.) Roof: A bad report can be at the top of the list of things buyers fear. You could be proactive and ask your agent to have a roofer give you an estimate on minor repairs (a tune-up). If you decide to do the repairs, you can then ask for a “Roof Certificate”. This will help put the buyers at ease.

9.) Air Conditioner: The unit on the outside of the house should be free of leaves and bushes to allow it to cool properly. Simply clean the area around the outside units to ensure that they are not obstructed by debris.

10.) Garage Door: Do a simple test. Open the door, have someone hit the button to close it, then wave your foot in the path of the infrared beam (electric eye path near the ground). It should stop then reverse the door back to open position. Next, repeat this -except instead of waving your foot, grab the door with both hands and make it stop. It should offer some push against you then reverse back to open position. The inspector will most likely perform both of these tests.


11.) Heating/Cooling/ Water Heater: The inspector will turn on both of these systems just to note if they run. Remember to always replace the furnace filter, no matter what month it is. The water heater will need to be strapped properly (2 straps). This is required by law in California due to earthquake safety.

12.) Showers/Tub Surrounds: These often get written up for cracks in the grout, or caulked joints. This can easily be fixed ahead of time if you are handy. Just match the grout color and texture and re-grout the damaged areas to make the tile look new again.

13.) Ceiling Fans: Most home inspectors will test every ceiling fan in the home to make sure that they all work properly. Be sure that you replace any broken fans before listing your home for sale.

14.) Light Bulbs: Replace any that don’t work. Yes, they will actually check all lights (not lamps).

15.) Electrical: For about $10, you can get an outlet tester at any home improvement store. This will inform you of any outlets that will fail the inspector’s test (yes, they test every single one, inside and out). Some of these testers have a button to check GFI (ground fault interrupter) outlets. GFI outlets are usually located at wet areas: garage, exterior, baths, kitchen, and laundry depending upon the year built, because of changing codes. These outlets can also be protected by one device:

  • either a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet or

  • circuit breaker located in your main electrical panel.

Speaking of the panel, make sure it’s easily accessible. All switches, outlets and junction boxes must have cover plates without cracks. There can be no exposed “Romex” (home in-wall wire). It must be in a metal or plastic conduit.

16.) Plumbing: Fill all sinks halfway, then pull the plug to see if they drain normally. If slow, it might just need the P-Trap to be cleaned. Check in cabinets, under all sinks for any moisture on the bottom, supply lines or valves (use a dry paper towel and check by wiping).

17.) Toilets: All toilets will be flushed and noted. If there is a leaking sound before flushing, it’s probably the flapper valve. These cost $5-12 and need no tools to install. Toilets will also be checked for secure mounting (they shouldn’t move or rock).

18.) Safety Detectors: There are 2 types – A Carbon Monoxide detector is required within 15’ of any bedroom, and at least one per level of the house. The Smoke detector is required inside each bedroom, in the hallway of bedrooms, and at least one on every level. It’s a good idea to replace batteries and push the test button (earplugs anyone?).

19.) Stairs: The balustrade (entire baluster system) will be checked for sturdiness. If any of it is loose, you might want to have that repaired before inspection.

20.) Kitchen Appliances: The inspector will run the dishwasher through its cycles, turn on all range/cooktop burners, oven, vent fan & light and if included in the sale, check all functions of the refrigerator. Repair or replace any appliances as needed.

A Few Extra Items to Be Aware Of:

Radon, Mold, Meth, etc: There are several possible tests beyond the home inspection that your buyers may want to have performed. In Colorado Springs, radon tests are very common, while the other two mentioned are rarely requested.

Windows: All windows will be opened, closed and re-locked. Hard movement or failure to lock will be noted. Some of this can easily be improved by cleaning tracks/guides and using a clear spray silicone from a hardware store.

Interior- General: The inspector will note each room for things like moisture stains, drywall cracks, loose flooring, or uneven floors.

If you feel that this list is too daunting of a task to cover, we recommend that you hire a home inspector to check everything for you, before you list your house for sale. This will cut down on any surprises.

Reach out to the Matthew Stewart Real Estate Team for

a few home inspector recommendations that they have used during

previous transactions.

Matthew Stewart - (916) 718-2979

"20 years and hundreds of homes SOLD SUCCESS EXPERIENCE you can trust!"

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