If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts (thank you!), you might remember that we dove into the topic of home inspections a couple posts back and focused on what buyers should be aware of and how they should negotiate their side of the deal. I hope you found a lot of good information whether you’re on the buying or selling side, because the truth is, you really will benefit most if you understand both sides of this process. I mentioned in that post that I would follow up with an article specifically geared toward sellers and their responsibilities during the inspection process.
So today, we’re going to flip over to the seller’s side of the home inspection process. At this point in the transaction, the sellers are just waiting. They have done all necessary work to get the property ready to sell and have been flexible for showings and open houses. Now, they are ready for the deal to be finalized and move on to their new adventures in their future home or new investment opportunity.
As sellers, what should you expect when the inspection report comes back? Let’s start from the beginning. As we discussed previously, the buyers will coordinate and schedule the inspection and let you know when that will be. The inspector will come to your home at the designated time and will be there for several hours—often up to 4 hours if you have a larger home. The inspector will be going over nearly every inch of your house, both the interior and exterior, making sure things are in working order, up to code, and determining whether there are issues that need to be addressed. As the seller, you do not need to be home when the inspector is there.
When the report is ready, it will be sent to the buyer’s agent and they will have their discussion about what is in the report and then they will send their response to your listing agent to present to you. The great majority of the time, the buyers will ask for all safety and defect items to be fixed, which is fair, and you do have to repair those by law. However, if they ask for other items to be fixed, you have the opportunity to negotiate those out of the contract. If the safety and defect items are small and will not cost too much to repair, it’s nice to fix everything to keep the relationship with the buyers positive. If something like a roof or plumbing issue was discovered, and you are suddenly asked to pay thousands of dollars to fix it, then don’t feel guilty about saying no to those noncritical items. Another option you have is to offer an allowance to get these items fixed so you don’t have to worry about managing the repair process. In this way you are showing you still want to keep moving forward.
These points are moot of course if you’re selling the property “as is” to an investor or tremendously brave homeowner. If that is the case, the home inspection is only being done for informational purposes for the buyer and you as the seller have no responsibility to make recommended repairs. For the majority of real estate transactions however, sellers typically make some repairs after the inspection report comes back.
With this is mind, let’s continue with our discussion of the process.
When you determine what you’re going to fix, you send your response in writing back to the buyers and hope they accept it. After both sides have accepted the inspection terms, it is your responsibility as the seller to get all repairs made in the time allotted. Most buyers will want everything completed with invoices prior to closing. The buyers and their agent will do a final walk through a day or two before closing and make sure everything is in order. Many agents take a copy of the inspection report to that final walk through and look over repairs to ensure everything has been fixed properly. If it hasn’t, expect the closing to be delayed, and no one wants that to happen.
As a realtor myself, I’d also like to offer a few tips to sellers to ease your minds during the home inspection step:
- Get your home inspected before you list it. This will make you aware of problems and, if you want, you can get them fixed before your home ever goes on the market. A pre-inspected home could even attract more buyers because they know some issues have already been addressed.
- Fix everything you see. Even without an inspection, you know of some things “wrong” in your home. Make an effort to fix things like loose trim, a leaky faucet, burnt out light bulbs, chipped paint, or missing shingles. You really want your home to be in top shape before a buyer ever walks through the door, because there will likely be items on the inspection of which you are unaware.
- Relax. Don’t be surprised when your agent presents you will a 30 page inspection report. As we discussed, the inspector goes through the whole house in great detail, and he or she will make a note of everything he or she sees. Remember, not everything has to be fixed!
- Be flexible. Try to work with the buyers with what they’re requesting. If they want a few things fixed that you think are silly, try to see it from their point of view. They are making a huge investment by buying your home, and they want to make sure it’s in good shape now and in the future. You would do the same as the buyer.
If you’d like some more advice, directly from a home inspector, check out this article! It has some great tips for you to get your home in the best condition possible. In addition, don’t forget that GREEN has a video course on the topic: https://www.learnfromgreen.com/course/home-inspection-pro/