Some home sellers seem surprised when a buyer unveils a home inspection report that lists minor, or possibly more serious, repair issues that need to be addressed as part of the sale. When the time comes for negotiation between buyer and seller, haggling over these issues can be difficult—to the point of scuttling the whole deal.
It pays to remember that the purpose of a home inspection is to find major defects that the buyers and, typically, sellers are unaware of. A smart seller will know in advance what problems might be uncovered, either by giving their home a thorough inspection or hiring their own inspector for a pre-sale inspection. If serious issues are found, at least the seller can have these problems repaired or addressed through price adjustment.
There are a number of common issues that are often uncovered during a home inspection, including problems in the electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems.
Electrical systems often reveal problems because of repairs made by homeowners or by well-meaning but unqualified friends or family members. These self-styled electricians may create wiring projects that provide insufficient electrical service to a house or leave inadequate overload protection. Other common wiring problems include reversed polarity in which “hot” and “neutral” wires are placed on the improper terminal on the outlet, or double-taps, in which two electrical circuits are attached to a single breaker. Some of these problems are easily fixed, while others are not, but all can present problems at closing time.
A home with a fireplace/chimney can be a selling factor, as well as a sales detractor. A common complaint in a house with this amenity involves loose or missing chimney flashing, leading to water leakage into the home. Other problems with fireplaces can include missing mortar or chimney cap, or cracked tiles in the chimney flue.
No one buying a new home wants to go into a deal knowing the roof needs replacing, unless both parties agree to the condition as part of the sale. If a roof has damaged shingles, there is a high likelihood that further examination will reveal interior attic, ceiling or wall damage.
For many potential buyers, roof repair is something they prefer to steer clear of, especially when costs to replace a roof start in the thousands. A seller can determine the state of the roof through visual examination, using binoculars or hiring a roofing professional for advice. If there are damaged, loose or missing shingles, the time to repair them is before the home is listed for sale.
Moisture is a universal problem, no matter where it enters a home. Water leakage can occur from something as simple as a faulty plumbing fixture to a burst pipe. And the repairs can be as simple as replacing a seal—or as complex as replacing rusted or corroded lines. While homeowners can usually replace a seal or gasket, it may take a professional to make repairs behind walls and under flooring.
If leaks are left to drip, small problems can lead to big ones in the form of mold, mildew or structural damage.
Another way water can sink a sale is caused by improper grading or drainage. Landscaping and soil should always be graded away from the foundation. Gutters and downspouts will also help funnel water away from the home.
Finally, what is the biggest clue to a homeowner that a home will probably not pass muster? A home that looks like it has not been well-tended or cared for. Poor overall upkeep can be inferred from a home with cracked, peeling or dirty paint, cracked window glass, lights that don’t work and appliances that are barely hanging on. Just a causal drive-by can reveal a house that looks uncared for and odds are that, exactly what potential buyers will do—drive by.