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Home Seller Inspections

The Great North Idaho Land Grab has subsided. Last year’s slower market has stabilized, and this year opens with a number of houses - competing with yours – for a buyer. How can you stand above the crowd? Have a home seller inspection performed, also known as a listing home inspection or pre-listing home inspection.

“Have your home inspected by a NACHI Certified Inspector before you list!” recommends former REALTOR® Nick Gromicko in his book, Sell Your Home For More. Eventually, your house will be inspected; you may as well be the first to know the results, and then make repairs affordably – rather than be held over a barrel during eleventh-hour negotiations. The author points out that having an inspection performed ahead of time helps in many other ways:

  • It allows you to see your home through the eyes of a critical third-party.
  • It helps you to price your home realistically.
  • It permits you to make repairs ahead of time so that-
  • Defects won't become negotiating stumbling blocks later;
  • There is no delay in obtaining the Use and Occupancy permit;
  • You have the time to get reasonably priced contractors or make the repairs yourself, if qualified;
  • It may encourage the buyer to waive the inspection contingency;
  • It may alert you of concerns such as exposed wires or carbon monoxide leaks;
  • It helps relieve prospect's concerns and suspicions;
  • It reduces your liability by adding professional supporting documentation to your disclosure statement.
  • It alerts you to immediate safety issues before agents and visitors tour your home.

Copies of the inspection report, along with receipts for any repairs, should be made available to potential buyers. Such forthright dealing promotes trust with your buyer and acts as a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” – especially in today’s buyers’ market.

Susan Spellman is a Williamsburg, VA, REALTOR® who recommends Pre-Listing Inspections to all her clients. “Just because a home has granite countertops doesn’t mean it’s well built,” she says.
Spellman is so convinced of the value of prelisting inspections that if her clients don’t agree to have one done, she gives them two options: sign a letter acknowledging they’re not following her advice or list with another agent. “I tell my clients not to be penny-wise and dollar-dumb,” says Spellman, whose average closing price is over $700,000.
Jim Brown, the NACHI (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors) President of North Georgia, recently told me that the majority of his inspection business is due to savvy home sellers who want to instill confidence in their buyers.

“If you do an inspection and make the necessary repairs before listing a home, the house basically has a clean bill of health,” says Sandy Schoon, an agent in Scottsdale, AZ. Schoon regularly recommends prelisting inspections to her clients. “It’s an opportunity to take care of things that could go wrong so that they won’t come back and bite you.”

A prelisting inspection is important in another way, as you get to research and choose a qualified inspector. Here in Idaho, it’s important to remember that there are no restrictions or requirements for “inspectors” – and anyone can call themselves “certified,” for that matter. If you wait for the buyer to choose an inspector, however, you may be at their mercy. Nightmares have resulted; some “inspectors” have tried to impose modern codes onto older structures, while others have used the inspection as an opportunity to create a “to-do” list for their own home maintenance and repair company! A home inspection is defined as a visual, non-invasive examination of a residential dwelling; know what to expect from yourinspection by referring to

Sellers can speed their home inspection by following these suggestions. The inspection will go smoother, with fewer concerns to delay closing.
1. Confirm that water, electric and gas service are on, with gas pilot lights burning.
2. Ensure pets won't hinder the inspection. Ideally, they should be removed from premises or secured outside.
3. Replace burned out bulbs to avoid a "Light is inoperable" report that may suggest an electrical problem.
4. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace dead batteries.
5. Clean or replace dirty HVAC air filters. They should fit securely.
6. Remove stored items, debris and wood from around the foundation and crawlspace. These may be cited as "conducive conditions" for termites and wood decay.
7. Remove items blocking access to HVAC equipment, electric service panels, water heaters, attics and crawl spaces.
8. Unlock areas the inspector must access — attic doors or hatches, electric service panels, closets, fence gates and crawlspaces.
9. Trim tree limbs to 10’ from the roof and shrubs from the house to allow access.
10. Attend to broken or missing items like doorknobs, locks and latches; windowpanes, screens and locks; gutters, downspouts and chimney caps.
Checking these areas before your home inspection is an investment in selling your property, and will minimize the number of concerns listed in the inspection report.

Lastly, the addition of a 120-day Home Warranty will provide you with peace of mind during the hectic showing, packing and moving period, and ensure that you will not have any unforeseen expenses pop up after the inspection. This service, offered, can be included in my prelisting inspections.

Face it: sellers expect to spend some money as they prepare the home for sale. All too often, sellers end up sinking cash into improvements that mean little or nothing to potential buyers or, worse yet, into improvements that will not be returned with the sale of the home. Financially “tapped out,” they feel trapped when the buyer demands concessions or a lower price as a result of the buyers’ inspection report. Investing in a seller’s inspection, early in the process, will ensure that monies spent will be for those items of highest importance – and provide the greatest return.

Certified Inspector Russ Spriggs is president of Idaho’s chapter of the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and 2007 president of the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce. He maintains an informative and educational website Direct your home inspection requests or questions to:Russ@cdaInspector.comor (208) 660.8877.

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