Selling Your Home

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Here are a few tips.

WORRIED ABOUT THE INSPECTION ? HERE ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON OFFENDING ITEMS TO SHOW UP IN THE INSPECTION……..and how to avoid them. If you are selling your home, you can reduce some of the stress that may come with the home inspection.

Here are a few tips to help you make the inspection less stressful and even improve the odds in your favor. These comments are based on the most common offenders that can prejudice a buyer especially if a negative or questionable item appears on the report that perhaps could have been avoided.

Be accommodating.

1. Consult with your agent. Your agent can often tell you what to expect when your home is scheduled for an inspection. Be as accommodating as you can even if you are not present for the inspection. If you have any anxieties regarding the inspection, discuss them with your agent. Do whatever is necessary for you to feel comfortable and allow the inspection to proceed smoothly. Be confident. Remember, it’s your house, not theirs. They simply made you an offer.

Make the house accessible.

2. Make certain everything that the inspector and buyers need to observe is accessible. Anything that the inspector cannot view or observe sufficiently will likely be referred to as “inaccessible” and be deferred to a contractor for further observation. The inspector is not likely to ignore something simply because he can’t get to it. Clear a path to the electric panel. If it is in the garage, move anything that may block its path. If it is inside the house in a closet, move any clothing that might interfere.

Clear a path.

3. Clear a path to the water heater(s), furnace(s), sprinkler controls, etc.

Outlets in garage.

4. Make all the outlets in the garage as accessible as possible, especially GFI devices that may be blocked.

Pool light.

5. If you own a pool, leave a note telling the inspector where to find the GFI device for the underwater pool and spa lights if it is not in plain sight.

“Mystery Switches”        “Post-It” notes are very handy.

6. Feel free to leave “Post-It Notes” on “mystery” switches; light switches that have some special purpose or that simply do not work. Light switches especially in older homes, are not always intuitive. Most buyers and inspectors are forgiving of a switch that has no apparent purpose especially if you as the home owner never figured out its function either.

Pets.

7. Pets should be absent if at all possible. As careful as inspectors are to keep doors closed, others may enter and leave the house without knowing that a pet might escape or get locked into a closet. Cats sometimes find an open attic or a crawl space opening irresistible.

“Rigged” wiring.

8. “Rigged” wiring should be removed if at all possible, especially in the garage. Anything but a lamp that is wired with lamp cord should be removed or installed permanently. Many times removing the offender is the simplest solution. Draped wires in the garage scare even the bravest of homebuyers. This applies to the attic as well. (We all seem to be okay with our own “rigging” because we know how we rigged it but we don’t like the handy-work of others especially if it isn’t so handy.) Many inspectors refer to tampering as “non-skilled”,  “homemade” or “improvised” wiring. Translated this means “rigged” and it will be suspicious.

Crawl Space.

9. Crawl spaces need to be accessible if your house is built on piers and beams. If your house has a crawl space, the inspector will want to view the underside of the house. Don’t allow the inspector and your buyers to leave the house with any concerns that could be avoided easily simply by providing access.

Vehicles in the garage.

10. Cars, boats and trucks parked in the garage may interfere with access to the attic. It is best if vehicles are parked elsewhere. If this is not possible, try to leave a path to the attic.

Light fixtures.

11. Light fixtures that are not working will likely be written in the report as just that. Not working. Most lights that are not working are little more than a burned-out bulb but the inspector and your buyers may not know that. Inspectors are not obliged nor permitted to work on your fixtures to make them operate. This does not mean that you have to replace every burned-out bulb, but every fixture should have at least one working bulb to assure that the fixture and wiring are not suspicious.

Lawn Sprinklers.

12. Lawn sprinklers are inspected even in the winter so if yours is “down” for the season, try to restore it temporarily for the inspection. At least leave a note telling the buyers and their inspector that the system is “down” or “winterized”. If the system is not operable for any reason, offer an explanation.

Driveway electric gates.

13. Driveway electric gates will likely be inspected so be sure to leave the remote control where  your buyers and their inspector can find it. (Garage door remotes are seldom inspected since overhead doors can be operated without a remote control.)

Service receipts and invoices.

14. Leave copies of any receipts or invoices showing recent repairs or service to major appliances especially for the heating and air conditioning systems. This can alleviate questions regarding the condition of the systems or specific components. Buyers like to know if the home has had regular service on the major systems and even better if that service was recent.

Jetted tubs.

15. Jetted tubs (Jaccuzi’s as some people call them) require a GFI. This device is often located inside a nearby closet, usually the master bath. Many are quite conspicuous and need no directions to locate. Others are not so apparent. You may or may not be aware of where this little device is located. You may not even be aware that you have one but prior to the inspection try to locate it. Leave a “Post-It Note” on the tub or elsewhere showing the buyers and their inspector where to find the device if it is not in plain sight. (If this device is located in the master bedroom closet, the inspector will NOT move personal items to search for it.)

GFI Devices in older homes.

16. The truth is, some houses are not wired to accept modern devices such as GFI’s. Although it can be a noble gesture to install these devices ahead of time, many houses are “grandfathered” and although they are recommended, GFI devices are not required if your house was constructed prior to changes in the electrical codes. Your house is not “in violation” of any building codes. Your house is simply not equipped with GFI’s. Your real estate agent may insist that you have them installed and if so, call an electrician. Many houses built prior to 1965 were not wired with grounded connections and dedicated circuits so placing GFI devices in a kitchen counter circuit may accidentally include the refrigerator outlet, range hood or even the food disposer. Motors can fool a GFI and cause it to trip unexpectedly. A refrigerator can sit for hours or days without power if you are out of town and a GFI trips while you are gone. If your agent recommends that you have them installed, call an electrician. (Remember: An unskilled handyman often signs his work without ever knowing it.) Don’t have GFI devices installed to “bring your house up to code”; that won’t do it. Have them installed because after the inspection, your buyers will be informed that your house is without them and they will likely want them. Call your electrician.

Light dimmers.

17. If you know that you have a light dimmer that gets too hot, you can sometimes correct it simply by replacing the high wattage bulbs with lower wattage bulbs. Elegant chandeliers and dining room fixtures often require high-quality commercial dimmers and they can be costly. An economical solution is to leave the bulbs alone and have an electrician replace the dimmer with a standard on-off switch. Unless there is a problem with the circuit an on/off light switch won’t overheat; dimmers often do. It won’t impact their decision to buy the house if there is no dimmer on the dining room chandelier. Let the buyers put a dimmer there if they want one.

Toilets/Commodes.

18. Commodes (toilets) are one of the most common items to be listed as defective on an inspection report. An inspector will not overlook looseness because unstable commodes are the beginning of a progressive problem. The problems don’t improve as time goes on. Besides the obvious problem, leakage, little else really matters. Rusted mechanicals inside the tank, overfilling tanks, slow flushing, backing up, tank seals leaking, bowl seals leaking, flush mechanisms hanging up are just some of the typical defects found by most home inspectors. If there is a brick inside the tank to save water, take it out. Take out any rags that are wrapped around the fill valve before anyone sees them in there. Make sure that none of your toilets move back and forth or rock side to side. Avoid trying to tighten the flange bolts. These bolts cannot be tightened without cracking the porcelain bowl. They can only be “snugged”. Never place metal shims or coins under a porcelain bathroom fixture to stabilize or level it. If you are not sure how to shim or secure the bowl to the floor, call a plumber or good handyman.

Hot Tubs/Spas.

19. Hot tubs need to be full of water and hot. Fill it and turn on the heater the night before so it is good and hot. Don’t get reckless with the garden hose filling up the tub. Any water that remains may be suspected as a leak. Leave open the access panel or leave a note describing how to remove the access panel to the equipment. Don’t let your buyer leave with any suspicions about a perfectly good-but-empty hot tub simply because you forgot to have it ready.

Pool Heaters.

20. A gas pool and spa heater is another item often overlooked by a seller. It may be very disappointing to your buyer and their inspector if it doesn’t work. A heater that has the pilot on and ready to fire is one that can be trusted. If the gas pool or spa heater is already lit and ready to fire up at the push of a button or twist of a dial, excellent. If the gas heater is not lit or has not been used for some time, DON’T LIGHT IT just for the inspection. Call a pool contractor to light it. Since most inspectors will not light a gas-fired pool and spa heater, they certainly don’t expect you to light it. Lighting a Natural Gas pool and spa heater can be extremely dangerous and lighting an LP Gas heater even more so and can be fatal.

Vacant Houses.

21. If the house that you are selling is vacant, have the utilities restored. All of the utilities must be on for the inspection to be complete. This includes the gas. Gas companies are often the least accommodating of all of the utility companies (just ask your real estate agent). Many inspectors require that the water utility must be on at least for 24 hours before the inspection. This especially applies if the house has been winterized. This can even work to your benefit as a seller. It gives you time to tighten faucets and connections that happen to leak. Better you discover the leaks than your buyers and their inspector.

Code Violations.

Buyers and their home inspectors at times can be free and loose with some of the terms they use in their descriptions of your home. A “Code Violation” is an example. Don’t panic if you see this term on your buyers inspection report or their request for repairs. Your house is not in violation of any building code unless the inspector is a City Official performing an official duty. Home inspectors are not code inspectors even though many have training in building codes and can quote them. They cannot write citations. There is no such thing as a Code Violation unless a Code Enforcement Officer issues a citation. A defect or deficiency can be and should be listed as a departure from a particular codeEven non-compliant or any other term that is appropriate would be a more accurate choice. “Code Violation” is a powerful term and is a little heavy-handed when used in a typical home inspection report especially if it is not true. As with GFI devices, don’t make a repair to “bring your house up to code”, make the repair on the merits of personal safety, the defect or deficiency itself and your own good judgment.

Written and distributed by

David Padgett

817-269-4419

Professional Inspector

License No. 58

 

Email me at:     dave@arlingtonpropertyservices.com

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