June 5th, 2017
You wouldn't go on a first date or an important job interview with a stained shirt, un-coiffed hair and not having brushed your teeth. The same rules apply when you are selling your house, especially when it comes to the inspection.
The buyer's inspector is getting paid to ensure that your house has no defects and to find them if they exist. While there will always be something he or she finds that you didn't expect or know about, you can be one step ahead of the game - and avoid the "big surprises" - by performing your own pre-sale preparations for the inspector's knock at your door.
Cut the inside clutter
If you can't see or get to it, neither can the inspector who will be going into your attic and basement to check out everything from potential leaks in the roof down to the condition of the hot water heater. If either space looks like something from a hoarder television show or a haunted house horror movie, a few things could happen - from the inspector not being able to get to anything and putting down on the report the vague "possibility of..." that raises more issues than a "yes" or "no" to him breaking something - either of yours or his (namely, a leg or an arm). None of these are scenarios you want to deal with, so before the inspector shows up - and since you're already moving and paring down can save you on your move and/or storage - take the time to de-clutter and downsize your stuff.
Clean up your outside act
Checking inside and out, top to bottom - that's the inspector's job. And yours. Clean out your gutters, keep your shrubs and grass around the foundation trimmed, provide easy access to things like central air conditioning compressors and if you have a garage make sure that, like your attic, is clutter free.
Mend your ways
Don't wait for an inspection report to tell you that you have a cracked window, a loose handrail or missing bricks on your front steps. Before you even get to the inspector stage, give your house an honest assessment and fix what you know needs repairing. Doing this kind of mending ahead of time will ensure you can use the contractor(s) you want (rather than scrambling when you get the report and find that they aren't available), potentially saving you money, and help you avoid the shock of reading through a multiple-page "hit parade" of things you need to get fixed.
Check expiration dates
Do you know the age of your roof? Your hot water heater? Major appliances? These and more are things that the inspector will study. When you know their "best if used by" dates and service histories you will be better prepared if the inspection report says that something is at or nearing the end of its life - and becomes a point of negotiation for repair, replacement or a reduction in your home's price.
Proper prior planning prevents problems and panic
While it is inevitable that an inspector will find some defect in your home, proactive repairs and self-education can help to reduce the stress and financial impact of an inspection report. You can also be ready (and calmer) for negotiating when you know some of the results (expiration dates, for example) ahead of time. Most importantly, when your house is inspection ready before you sell, it will be buyer ready when the "for sale" sign goes up.