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Bringing Out the Best At Inspection Time

A dozen or more times a week, I enter a stranger’s house to perform what’s become an expected part of most real estate deals—a home inspection.

As an inspector, I thoroughly go over the house, concentrating on its working condition. Then, I present a report to the buyer that describes the house and its systems; good, bad, and occasionally, ugly.

I Nice Houseusually work for buyers, who want to know that they’re spending their money wisely.  But I believe that everyone—seller as well as buyer—wants the inspection to go smoothly.  I know I do.

Yet, I find too often, that while a seller may have gone to great lengths to make a house ready for a real estate agent to show, it’s not always ready to inspect.  From my observations, as well as conversations with agents, buyers and sellers, I’ve determined that there are a few minor repair and maintenance chores that sellers can do to reduce the number of defects that will show up on the inspection report. 

Here’s a checklist that will help your house inspect as well as it shows:

  • Make sure all interior and exterior light fixtures work.  If an outdoor fixture bulb is out, the inspector has to note that the fixture does not correctly operate.
  • Provide access to the furnace, water heater and electrical panel. Also, the inspector must be able to remove the electrical panel cover.
  • Install a new furnace filter.  It will be looked at during the inspection and be considered as part of the over-all condition of the furnace or heat pump.
  • Ensure all windows operate smoothly.  If some are stuck or painted shut, the impression will be that many windows cannot open.  Also, remove window security screws or provide keys for window security locks.
  • Replace all damaged window screens.
  • Tighten all doorknobs and tighten or repair all handrails.  Also check to be sure that all interior doors will latch to the strike plate.
  • Clear the way to the attic access panel or pull-down, especially in a closet.  The inspector will enter every attic.
  • Be sure that there is a minimum of one smoke detector per floor.
  • Provide keys or unlock sheds and out-buildings.
  • Adjust the downward pressure of the automatic garage door opener.  It should reverse when it encounters gentle pressure from your out-stretched arms.  If it pushes your arms down, the pressure needs to be reduced.

US Inspect has a popular "seller's checklist" handout that was designed based on this article.