Your home is in escrow, and the Buyer has scheduled a home inspection. Should you (the Seller) be worried about what a home inspector (like myself) might uncover? The answer depends on the present condition of your home today and how well you've maintained its major components over the years that you’ve owned your home. Regardless of what a home inspector may uncover, you shouldn't be overly concerned about the actual home inspection itself. Keeping in mind that Massachusetts disclosure laws and customary real estate practices vary from location to location.
From my experience as a Massachusetts licensed home inspector, here are several suggestions as to how you might help the home inspection process go more smoothly: Keeping in mind that this list applies to those Sellers that have a Massachusetts licensed Real Estate Agent representing them. For those Sellers who are "For Sale By Owner's", please apply these suggestions to the best of your ability and you will experience less issues while your home is on the market.
Please leave the premises. It's perfectly reasonable to absent yourself from your home during a home inspector visit and turn over all the duties to your real estate Agent. An experienced Agent will be familiar with the home inspection process and will be able to act as your representative. In fact, many listing agents will prefer that the Seller not be at home during the Buyer's home inspection.
Be courteous. Some Sellers mistakenly assume that a home inspector is an adversary. Experienced professional home inspectors aren't on a mission to find fault with every little aspect of your home. My role (as a home inspector) is to offer all my Buyer's a fair assessment of your property. Tips: Don't keep the home inspector waiting on your doorstep and allow at least three hours (alone time) for the home inspection.
Don't attempt to refute negative comments about your home during or after the home inspection. I don't appreciate being followed around by argumentative or defensive home Sellers (or Sellers' Agents for that matter). The time to explain and negotiate anything about your home will come after you review the Buyers Agent’s request for repairs or upgrades. I do not get involved in the sale of your home after the home inspection, so please do not attempt to contact me after the home inspection is complete.
Don't make statements about your home that are beyond your personal knowledge or can't be verified. For instance, if asked about how old the roof is or when certain appliances were installed. Always check your records before you answer. If you have documentation, provide a copy of it to the Buyer(s) or Buyers' Agent. If repairs or modifications were made prior to you purchasing the home, please don't guess when that work was performed. The same caution about misrepresentations applies to questions about whether permits were obtained for remodeling, the exact square footage of your home, the name of the architect who designed it and so on. Copies of purchases and records of repairs make a real estate transaction go more smoothly.
Don't block access to normal living areas of your home. If I can't enter a room or complete some other aspect of the home inspection, that will simply be noted in my home inspection report as "Not Accessible" or "Not Inspected" and the Buyer will most likely question these items.
Make agreed-upon repairs promptly. The Buyer may ask me to re-inspect any repairs you agree to make as a result of the home inspection. The sooner you make the repairs, the sooner the contingency can be met. Delaying the repairs until the last minute won't stop the Buyer from having those items re-inspected, but it could possibly delay the closing.
Please make sure the gas, water, and electricity are turned "ON" and gas pilot lights are lit to prevent a component from being properly inspected.
Ensure that your pets won't hinder the home inspection. Tell your REALTOR® or leave a note at your kitchen table regarding cats or dogs that should be kept inside.
Remove any items or debris blocking the inspection of the following areas: electric service panels, water heaters, attic access ladders or hatches (some attic insulation may fall on your floor when hatch is opened), crawl-space access hatches, heating and/or air-conditioning equipment.
Replace any burned-out light bulbs.
Clean or replace dirty HVAC air filters.
Move any wood, stored items, or debris away from the interior and exterior of your foundation.
Unlock or remove locks from any items that the home inspector must access: gates in fences, electric service panels, crawl space access or attic hatches or doors, and special closets.
Trim back all tree limbs from the roof area and shrubs from the side of the house to allow me to easily access to the roof and siding.
Repair or replace broken, damaged or missing items; door knobs, locks, and latches, window screens, rain gutter hardware, downspouts and extensions, window locks, broken/cracked glass, backflow devices on all exterior faucets, and install screened chimney flue caps for fireplaces flues.
And last but not least: Massachusetts law requires that all residential structures be equipped with approved smoke detectors and CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors upon sale. The local fire department will issue a certificate to prove compliance. You (the Seller) are responsible for obtaining this certificate before close of escrow. Your Realtor will go over this with you. So please prepare to test all smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors and replace batteries if needed.