There is almost nothing as challenging as attending a home inspection on a beautiful, seemingly perfect home only to learn that a home inspector has discovered a larger issue which requires significant, costly repairs. Buyers can become apprehensive, sellers can become defensive and the entire transaction can teeter on the brink of collapse.
Several of the home inspections I’ve attended have had a few major items which would be considered surprises by most standards. Combine a surprise with the usual list of other “handy man” issues found in discovery and a home seller can become a bit defensive. The emotions kick in and occasionally a statement along the lines of “now they’re just nitpicking” comes into play.
What I can share about all of the years I’ve been selling real estate is that I’ve never once met a buyer who contacted a home inspector and told them to manufacture a long list of nitpicky-type issues just to upset the seller or to create a reason to get out of the contract.
During a home inspection what is or is not considered a defect? Very often, consumers are confused about what is considered a defect, a broken item, something that needs repaired by the seller prior to closing. There rarely is a gray area. The contract that both the buyer and seller executed likely delineates what is actually considered a defect and the course of action to remedy those items. Essentially, things that are meant to function must, in fact, function as they were intended.
The home inspector has been hired to do one thing, thoroughly assess the entire home for a buyer so that they completely understand the condition of the home that they’re buying. Every single item, big or small, not working in the capacity for which it was designed will be itemized on the list. Very often, even cosmetic items are, at the very least, noted on the list just so the buyer understands that there are cracked tiles or stains or whatever the anomaly may be.
So, to help avoid any surprises and added stress down the road here are a few tips for home sellers to get through the inspection period and to the closing table:
- Prior to signing the sales contract a seller should fully understand their financial and contractual responsibility for remedying defects discovered in an inspection.
- When in doubt, disclose. It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened be it a fire, flood, a roof leak – disclose everything.
- Home inspections may have changed since you last purchased or sold a home. Inspectors now use specialized equipment such as thermal imaging and air quality testing to find nearly invisible defects such as faulty wiring, moisture intrusion and mold.
- Whatever the defect is, it doesn’t matter “if it was like that when you bought it”. It will be a defect on an inspection report.
- Love the one you’re with. Warts and all, do your best to work out the transaction at hand. If the buyer walks, the items from the home inspection report may have to be disclosed to the next buyer. The inevitable repair is only going to be delayed and potentially interfere with the next transaction and may even result in a lower selling price down the road.
- Don’t get upset about a lengthy list of repairs. The home inspector is doing their job and the buyer is getting what they pay for, a thorough inspection.