Congratulations – you’ve accepted an offer from a buyer who really wants your home but now they want an inspection or appraisal. What do you do? Well your work isn’t done yet.
As a seller, it’s important to be prepared in case your buyers request a home inspection, or if their mortgage lender wants to do an appraisal on the property. These are two unique situations that sellers should be ready for when showcasing their listing in the best possible light.
First off, some clarification:
A Home Inspection
If your buyer has agreed to purchase your home on condition of a home inspection, it means they will be hiring a professional home inspector to look over the property and ensure it’s safe and that there are no major defects. Generally this inspection takes place within a few days after you’ve accepted their offer.
Assuming everything goes well with the home inspection, the buyers will sign off on this condition, and your home will be officially sold. You can learn more about conditional offers like this in our recent article here The Difference Between A Conditional & Firm Offer.
A Home Appraisal
Sometimes, when a buyer is arranging their mortgage to purchase your home, their bank may wish to do an appraisal of the home. This is the bank’s way of verifying that the home is worth the amount they will lend you for the purchase.
While this is a very common and standard practice for banks, it’s important that your home be in the best shape so it impresses the appraiser!.
The Purpose of A Home Inspection
While it may be a little nerve-wracking knowing that an inspector is coming to look over your house, there are definitely some things you can do to help with the process and make it easier.
Inspectors will give you an honest assessment of your home
Yes, the home inspector is going to point out some things about your home that need repair. It could be as little as a missing screw or wobbly doorknob. Or it could be that the roof is leaking and there’s a lack of insulation in the attic. But that’s their job – to give an honest assessment of the property to your buyer.
Don’t be dismayed. The inspector will also point out the good stuff about the home. If your furnace looks well maintained and the plumbing is tidy, they’ll mention that too. So we want to make sure their inspection report lists more positives than negatives to the buyer.
Top Tips To Prepare For The Home Inspection
Make plans to leave during the home inspection. Our goal is to make your buyers feel at ease without you staring at them or following them around. The more comfortable they feel the more likely they’ll continue to fall in love with the house.
Clean like you’ve never cleaned before. The buyers will be hanging out in your home for 2-3 hours, and that is a lot of time for them to be staring at your baseboards, light switches, fixtures, appliances and more. You want them to fall in love with the house during this time, more than they did at their first showing while not wondering about the maintenance of the home.
If you have any special information you’d like to leave for the buyers, put it on the kitchen counter. A short note welcoming them, along with any invoices or information on recent updates and upgrades you’ve done will give them some interesting reading material about your home.
Make sure all utilities are on (including all breakers, water lines at faucets, pilot lights for any gas fixtures including fireplaces). You’ll also need to make sure there is unobstructed access to all areas that will need inspecting like attics, crawl spaces, electrical panel, the furnace and water heater. The inspector will be taking a close look at all these areas.
Clean out wood fireplace of any excess ashes or burned logs. Or if your fireplace is natural gas, ensure the pilot light is lit, and any switches or remotes are accessible and labeled.
Replace any burnt out light bulbs. The home inspector does not carry these around so if a light bulb is burnt out he will mention it in the report as he can’t test the fixture to make sure it works.
- Clean off the roof and clean out gutters. Yes, the home inspector will be climbing the roof and looking for any problems. Cleaning off branches and leaves from the roof and eavestroughs will mean he has a clear view of how water-tight this area is.
Replace the furnace filter and vacuum out the air return vents. If the filter is new but the return vents are full of dust, it gives the perception that the system hasn’t been well maintained.
Ensure all sheds, garages and out buildings are unlocked (or appropriate keys have been provided). The buyer and home inspector should have full access to all areas of the home and property.
And finally, you should know that no house is perfect. The home inspection report is going to find some issues—that’s a given. And it’s up to the buyer to determine if they can live with what is found or not. Unless you’re selling the home well-under market value in “as is” condition, the more you can do to impress the home inspector will go a long way to impressing your buyers.
The Purpose Of A Home Appraisal
Similar to a home inspection, it can worry some sellers when a buyer’s lender is requesting a home appraisal. An appraisal is essentially a person from the bank that comes to judge your home and decide if it’s worth the amount your that your buyer is willing to pay for it. So we need the home to look as good as (or better than) it did when your buyer was shown the house for the first time.
They can request an appraisal at any time
This appraisal may not happen right away and it may not even happen at all but it’s important to be ready for the possibility, because they can request an appraisal any time prior to closing.
An appraiser won’t be as intrusive as a home inspector—they won’t be checking wiring or structural integrity. They’ll instead be looking at things like square footage, different finishes and materials used in the home, overall updates and maintenance of the property, and the location of the home.
Top Tips for Preparing For Your Home Appraisal
The easiest and most effective way to impress a home appraiser is to ensure the home is “show ready“. This includes things like opening up the curtains, turning on all the lights and making sure the home is clean. You can check a more detailed list on our blog here: Top Sellers Tips For Showing Your Home To Potential Buyers
Create a list of upgrades you have done to the home in recent years. This might include things like roof repairs, a new backyard deck, kitchen updates, finished basement etc. Try to include dates of when these major upgrades were done too. This does not include things like “shampooed the carpets” or “added mulch to the gardens” as these are more of maintenance items and not upgrades.
Ensure that all mechanical areas are free of obstructions, including the crawlspace and attic in case the appraiser would like to take a peek.
If you have a floor plan of the home, leave a copy of this on the kitchen counter with your list of upgrades. This can help them verify the square footage of the house.
Just as with a home inspection, make sure all utilities are turned on, including the gas fireplace or air conditioner and furnace.
- You should not be home during the appraisal. Generally they will book an hour-long appointment but may not need the entire time. Even if you wait outside of the home while they look around, you should not be following them or disrupting their work. Anything you want to tell them or show them can be left on the kitchen counter with your list of upgrades and floor plans.
The Final Take Home
While most sellers think an accepted offer on their home means their job is done but it’s important to remember you’re still selling a “product“. The deal isn’t final until closing day and you’ll need to make sure your home is still maintained for the buyers during that time.
By following these tips, you’ll be more likely to impress a home inspector and home appraiser if the need should arise.