One of the most anxiety producing aspects of selling a home is when the buyer sends the home inspector. As the seller, you don’t want your buyer to get cold feet over the inspection report. Although such nervousness is normal, a little knowledge and preparation will go a long way toward a successful outcome.
Fix problem areas before you list your home. This may seem obvious, but if there are repairs that would make you hesitate as a buyer, go ahead and fix them. Your home will show better, too.
The Seller’s Disclosure form. Many states require the seller to complete an official report giving a thorough description of the house’s condition. Before the inspector comes — before you even have a contract — this form should be completed and ready for the buyer. Be sure to give a full and honest accounting of your knowledge of any needed repairs. Willful omissions or misrepresentations could result in a lost sale or possible legal action. The seller’s disclosure also is your opportunity to be clear about what you know of the home’s condition and history. The inspector may find other things, but you will have done your part.
Inspectors work for the buyer so they will be meticulous. The inspector has a responsibility to provide a thorough report of the home’s condition to the buyer. So, don’t be surprised when, not if, he or she finds lots of small things — even with a house only a few years old. Most of an inspector’s findings are not significant enough to imperil your sale.
Not everything has to be fixed. After the inspection, the buyers typically will choose the items they would like to be fixed. They may also ask that the seller provide money at closing for repairs afterward. Many of the small items on the inspector’s list may be ignored, or a buyer may accept the house “as is.” All of this is negotiable. Be sure to ask your real estate agent for help. There may be some items that the buyer’s lender requires to be fixed, but again, you and the buyer can negotiate the cost of those repairs. Also keep in mind that most lenders prefer not to have the sales price of the home altered. Instead, it may be more acceptable for the seller to pay a contractor separately for the negotiated repairs. This would be documented on a separate invoice and provided at closing.