Home Inspection Guide
Preparing to Sell
Selling your home requires a considerable amount of work on your part as the seller. There’s no use beating around the bush; every prospective home seller should know that in order to be successful, you will have to dedicate your time and energy to the task! Your real estate agent should be a great help to you during the selling process, but they will also be relying on your cooperation and dedication to get the job done. There are several things you can do to prepare yourself for the selling process before your home hits the market. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are about the selling process, the better your relationship with your agent will be, which will ultimately lead to your success.
We here at The Keri Shull Team want to make sure YOU become a successful seller, so continue along our guide for sellers to learn:
- How to prepare your home for the market
- What to expect from the home inspection
- How to prepare for settlement
How to Prepare Your Home for the Market
First impressions really are everything when it comes to selling your home. Arguably, the hardest part to selling your home is getting it ready for listing photos, showings, and open houses simply because it requires the most work by you, the seller. However, it doesn’t have to break your bank account. With the right agent and the right attitude, you can prepare your home for the market like a pro. If you do it right, the benefits will cover the costs of your efforts and then some.
Declutter & Depersonalize Your Home
No potential buyer wants to wade through your personal belongings in order to get a good look at your home. Buyers also tend to not have a good imagination when it comes to picturing themselves in your home if your presence is still very much felt in each room. Before you list your home, you need to remove all photos, greeting cards, posters, anything that can be considered non-neutral from every room. You want your home to be a blank slate for buyers, so they can easily imagine themselves living in your home. This is also a great opportunity to get rid of any unnecessary possessions you may have collected over the years. Look for donation centers in your neighborhood and really focus on decluttering your entire home.
Clean Every Room in Your Home
Yes, we mean it! No one likes to clean, but it is crucial to your success as a seller. The truth of the matter is that there are very few buyers who will waste their time looking at a dirty home. It is very important for the seller to deep clean every room in the house and keep it as neat as possible until the home is sold. Buyers notice everything, so scrub the floor boards, clean out the kitchen cupboards, steam clean carpet stains, and dust every surface! We promise all of your hard work will pay off when you’re sitting at the closing table.
Prepare Your Home for Listing Photos
In this day and age, listing photos are huge when it comes to selling your home. Most buyers first see your home on the internet, and the listing photos are all that they have to decide if they want to see your home in person or not. As good as you may think your new iPhone’s camera is, it cannot compare to listing photos taken by a true professional. A good real estate agent will utilize professional photographers and stagers to ensure your home sells successfully, but there are a few things you can do to get your home ready for the photo shoot:
- Close all windows
- Park your car in the garage or on the street — out of view!
- Rake leaves and sticks from the yard
- Put away all kid toys or pet toys
- Move garbage cans out of sight
- Place all tools and supplies in storage
- Keep pets out of the yard during shoot
- Turn on all lights
- Open all curtains and blinds
- Hide any visible cords
- Put away all kid or pet toys
- Turn off the television
- Light a fire in the fireplace
- Hang generic artwork in place of personal photographs
- Organize book shelves
- Straighten the rug and throw pillows
Kitchen / Dining Area
- Remove all refrigerator magnets or decorations
- Clear the top of the fridge
- Clear all counter tops
- Store all counter-top appliances
- Store all cleaning supplies out of sight
- Put away all hand towels
- Hide the garbage can in the closet or pantry
- Temporarily store pet water/food bowls
- Set the table with nice dish set OR clear everything but centerpiece
- Hide any visible cords
- File away all paperwork and/or put in storage
- Selling your home with pets? We’ve got some tips for that!
- Open the shower curtains
- Put down the toilet seat
- Put out fresh, matching towels
- Hide all bath products from tub/shower
- Remove all products from the sink area
- Hide all air freshness
- Store any cleaning products out of sight
- Make the bed
- Remove anything stored under the bed — buyers look there too!
- Put away all clothing/shoes
- Clear the bedside tables of clutter
- Straighten and clear the dresser
What to Expect from the Home Inspection
In the selling process, the home inspection is one of the last steps. We don’t recommend pre-listing inspections for sellers because in our experience, it does not benefit the seller enough to overcome the extra money and effort put into the process. Therefore, it is up to the buyer to choose a home inspector and complete this step, but there are still things the seller can do to prepare themselves and their home for an inspection. Your main goal should be to show the buyer and the home inspector that your home has been well cared for, so if you’ve been keeping up with the cleaning throughout this process, most of the work should already be completed. Experienced inspectors notice the little things, so if you neglected certain areas of your home, they will make note of this for the buyer. Make sure you completed all the steps above before your home is scheduled for an inspection, and then move on to the steps below.
Home inspectors typically arrived 30-45 minutes early to the home inspection appointment, so that they are professionally set up and ready to go when the buyers arrive. Be prepared for inspection day by getting up and out of the house an hour before the appointment. We strongly encourage you to plan activities away from the home during the inspection. It’s best to let the inspector and the buyer review the house alone. We have seen buyers back out of a sale because of too much seller interaction, so consider yourself warned! The inspection typically lasts about 3-4 hours for a standard sized home and a bit less for a condo or co-op.
Complete Minor Repairs Ahead of Time
If you know of any minor defects in your home such as loose doorknobs or leaky faucets, take care of them before the home inspection. Failure to replace burned out light bulbs will result in the inspector listing the light fixture as inoperable! Repair as many minor problems as you can to avoid giving the buyer the wrong idea about your home. Consider hiring a handyman to repair or replace any parts that are failing; the little bit of money you’ll spend to fix these issues will go a long way with the buyer.
If the property is vacant, make sure all utilities are still on including the electric, gas, and water. If your home has a pool or spa, make sure it is filled and ready to be tested by the home inspector. For safety reasons, the home inspector will not light any pilot lights on stoves, furnaces, or water heaters, but have these systems operational anyway to avoid delays.
Prepare Appliances to Be Tested
The home inspector will be checking all of your home’s main appliances during the home inspection, so make sure you prepare accordingly. The dishwasher will be operated during the home inspection; dishes can be clean or dirty, but if you have a load of dirty dishes and want them cleaned, fill the soap dispenser and the home inspector may bless you with clean dishes when he/she is done! It’s also very likely that the washer and dryer will be taken out for a test run, so do your laundry ahead of time or remove it before the home inspection. No home inspector or buyer wants to handle your dirty laundry! Also make sure your oven and stove top are cleared off and cleaned up, so the home inspector can easily test them without setting off the smoke alarm. The heating and air conditioning system will also be tested.
Provide Adequate Access
Home inspectors need adequate space to access the attic entrance, appliances, electrical panel, and heating and cooling units. Remove boxes, stored items, and debris from these areas. We recommend clearing at least 3 feet of workspace for the inspector. Remove locks or provide the key for all access areas like electrical panels, sheds, and utility rooms. Inaccessible systems and components will result in an incomplete inspection and major delays!
Provide Repair Records
It’s a good idea to leave out any existing repair records for any work performed at your home for the buyer and home inspector to review during the inspection. The home inspector will not likely complete a detailed analysis of the invoices, but it will indicate seller pride of ownership and will help answer questions the inspector or buyer may have.
Take Pets With You
If you have fur babies at home, you need to take them with you when you leave the home for the inspection or at least crate them out of the way for the duration of the inspection. We recommend boarding your pets for the day if you have to work. The last thing you want is someone letting your pet out of the house by accident or having an incident with one of your pets.
After the Inspection
When the home inspection is complete, sit back and relax! Your agent should have already told you what comes next, but it’s not a bad idea for you to know what to expect ahead of time. Competent, professional home inspectors provide their customers with clear, unbiased information at the end of their appointment. They will put the conditions noted in the course of their inspection in perspective. This allows buyers to make calm and informed decisions about the information in the inspection report. Experience has shown that most buyers aren’t obsessive perfectionists. Unless there are significant conditions which require immediate modifications or corrective measures, buyers typically understand that your home is where people just like them live and anticipate a reasonable amount of “normal wear and tear.” Review your home inspection report with your agent before you make any final decisions.
How to Prepare for Settlement
By the time settlement rolls around, a heartfelt congratulations will be in order because you will have successfully accepted an offer on your home! At this point, the sale is almost final and there are just a few more things you need to do before you can say goodbye to your home. Most of the responsibilities related to settlement will fall on your real estate agent and a settling company, but the seller will also have a few responsibilities to ensure the deal goes through. Take a look at the following tips to prepare yourself and your home for settlement.
Know Your Settlement Date
The date indicated on your contract with the buyer will be the settlement date. If you have any reason to believe that you will not be available on this date, you must let your real estate agent know in advance so he or she can make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.
Understand Settlement Services
The settlement services typically performed by a settlement company include:
- Obtaining information for the payoff or assumption of the existing financing
- Obtaining dues information for the homeowner’s association or condo association
- Preparing release to remove any existing liens
- Receiving and diss using funds
Your agent should be able to refer you to a trusted settlement company that they do business with frequently, so you can be sure you are working with the best.
Disbursement of Settlement Proceeds
In most cases, all settlement documents and the disbursement of your settlement proceeds will happen the next business day following settlement. Let the settlement company know as soon as possible if you have any special requirements in this regard, so there won’t be any delays in the process. You will need to prove either your Tax Identification Number or Social Security Number prior to or at settlement in order to prevent delay in disbursement of proceeds.
What to Bring on the Day of Settlement
Prepare to bring a government issued photo ID such as your driver’s license or passport to settlement as many of the documents you will be signing will need to be notarized. You will also need to bring a voided check or your precise account information for where you would like all proceeds to be deposited to. Lastly, make sure you bring all keys and fobs for the buyer! This is their home now and you must surrender all copies of keys.
Contact Utility Companies
You as the seller will be responsible for contacting the utility companies to arrange cutoff dates and transfer of billing. This will be one of your final duties in the selling process. Your agent should be able to help you pick the best time to do so, so consult with your agent before settlement day to make all necessary arrangements!