How Sellers can prepare for a Buyer's home inspection

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Realty West CalBRE #01458572

How Sellers can prepare for a Buyer's home inspection

Today's post is a guest post by Russel Ray, a home inspector in San Diego, California.

The perfect home simply doesn't exist.

In a brand new home, the contractor often is not aware of everything his subcontractors do, and government building and code inspectors do not have the time or the budget to inspect everything in every home, so they usually just do a spot-check of newly constructed homes.

An existing home that has been lived in usually has damage that occurred from simply living in it, or additions or remodeling that weren't permitted.

If Sellers know what to look for, they can resolve many minor items before the Buyer's home inspector ever arrives, minor items that, collectively, could add up to major headaches involving both time and money. Doing as much as possible before the Buyer's home inspection helps ensure that escrow goes more smoothly.

Following is my "checklist" of items often found during the course of a home inspection that a Seller could do or could easily hire a general handyperson to do before the buyer's home inspector ever shows up.



  • Check that doorbells work.
  • Missing roof shinglesCheck for missing roof shingles.
  • Check for loose, damaged, or clogged gutters and downspouts.
  • Check attic ventilation and condition of vent screens.
  • Check to see if there is standing water, especially near the foundation, after irrigation or rainfall.
  • Check for cracks in foundation walls.
  • Check structure (including attic and foundation crawl space) for pests (termites, wasps, spiders, nests, etc.).
  • Check exterior weatherproofing (stain, paint, etc.).
  • Check for any wood in direct contact with soil, including fences and gates.
  • Check for loose wiring (electric, cable, phone) and poor wire terminations.
  • Check for holes and damage to siding, doors, windows, and trim so that structure is weatherproof.
  • Check condition of fences or gates (leaning, damaged).
  • Check that any exterior outlets are weatherproofed and not in permanent use for any landscape lighting.
  • Check condition of landscape components (retaining walls, landscaper timbers, etc.).
  • Vegetation debris on roofCheck for overgrown vegetation, especially in walkways; growing on siding, roof, chimney, fences, or in gutters; or too close to utility lines.
  • Check for trip hazards in walkways, driveways, and stairways (deterioration, vegetation, etc.).
  • Check for loose, missing, or rusted guardrails and handrails at stairways, decks, balconies, and porches.
  • Check that landscape lighting/irrigation systems work, and that sprinklers don't spray on fences or buildings.
  • Check condition of pool and spa, and related equipment and utilities.
  • Check that ponds, fountains, and waterfalls, and related utilities, work properly and are protected from children.



  • Water heaterCheck that seismic straps are on the water heater.
  • Check that stoppers work in bathtubs and sinks.
  • Check for clogged drains.
  • Check that toilet seat bolts and screws are tight.
  • Check for loose toilets and loose toilet tanks.
  • Check that faucets don't drip or leak around the base.
  • Check stop action on faucet handles.
  • Check condition of caulk/grout in bathtubs/showers.
  • Check insulation on water pipes in foundation crawl space and attic.
  • Check for safe and easy access to water shutoff valves (street curb, water heater, sinks, toilets, etc.).
  • Check for safe and easy access to any gas shutoff valves (meter, furnace, water heater, etc.).



  • Check for safe and easy access to electric panels and main circuit breaker.
  • Check that ceiling fans work on all speeds.
  • Check for burned out lights, including ceiling fans.
  • Check for damaged or loose outlets and light switches, including covers for outlets and switches.
  • Check for unplugged appliances, and unplug anything that is unnecessary to facilitate outlet testing by the Buyer's home inspector.
  • Too many extension cordsRemove extension cords and outlet multipliers.
  • Check that outlets work.
  • Check for outdated two-prong outlets and upgrade them to three-prong outlets.
  • Check for properly working GFCI outlets in kitchen, bathrooms, garage, and exterior.
  • Check that exhaust fans work in kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry area.
  • Check that any electrical junction boxes have covers.



  • Check condition of towel holders and tissue holders.
  • Check condition of bathtubs, showers, and shower doors.
  • Check that safety seal shows on floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors.
  • Smoke alarmCheck that carbon monoxide alarms work.
  • Check that smoke alarms work, and that they are present on each floor of multi-story houses.
  • Check for loose kitchen and bathroom countertops.
  • Check ease of operation for doors (including closet doors and cabinet doors), drawers, and windows, including windows nailed or painted shut.
  • Check for missing, loose, or damaged hardware on doors (including closet doors and cabinet doors), drawers (stops and guides), and windows.
  • Check for loose glass panes in windows and doors, as well as glass with holes or cracks in them.
  • Check that latches/locks work on doors (including closet doors and cabinet doors), drawers, and windows.
  • Check for damage to screen windows.
  • Excessive storageRemove excessive storage (closets, attic, garage).
  • Check for damage to walls and ceilings that need to be patched and painted.
  • Check for moisture stains on ceilings and walls; around doors and windows; near sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and showers; and near the dishwasher.
  • Check for loose, missing, or damaged guardrails and handrails in stairways.
  • Check for loose, broken or missing baseboards and door and window moldings.
  • Check for cracked tiles or deteriorated grouting in kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Check that kitchen appliances work.
  • Check that an anti-tip device is installed on the stove.



  • Big dogLet dogs and cats vacation for a few hours with a family member, friend, or at a pet spa.
  • Check that other pets (birds, snakes, rodents, etc.) are caged.
  • Certain items should be inspected annually due to their inherently dangerous nature. These include gas-using appliances, pool/spa equipment, roof, and the fireplace and chimney. If they have not been inspected within the last 12 months, having it done now can make escrow go more smoothly.
  • Check that filters are in place and clean (kitchen range hood, heating/cooling, bathroom fans, etc.).
  • Check for soot, cobwebs, and wildlife in the fireplace and lower areas of the chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that the fireplace and chimney undergo a Level II inspection any time real estate ownership is transferred, and I recommend having that done prior to the Buyer's inspection.
  • Check that the fireplace damper opens/closes easily.
  • Water heater user manualCheck for manufacturer installation guides, operating instructions, or user guides that you can provide to the buyer, especially for kitchen appliances; heating and cooling system; water heater; security, irrigation, fire suppression, central cleaning, and water modification systems; water well; and septic system. Many home inspectors exclude inspection and testing of some specialized systems, such as security and irrigation systems. Once you get the Buyer's inspection report, note what the Inspector did and did not do or could and could not do. Offer to meet with the Buyer to demonstrate how those systems are operated and maintained, and provide the contact information for any companies that regularly service the systems.
  • Check for receipts and warranty papers for any work done on the property, particularly for inspections and work done to prepare the property for sale. 

Originally posted at
Russel Ray — How Sellers can prepare for a Buyer's home inspection

♪♫ I play thet piano to relax ♫♪


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Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


This is a wonderful list, and an ingenious way to Promote Russel.  Have a wonderful weekend, we are having the best weather up and down the coast. A

Feb 10, 2012 06:54 AM #1
Toronto, ON

Hi Jim - Russel has a fantastic list of items to check.  May I suggest that this post (with some tweaking) also be broken into smaller posts both here and on his site to maximize the SEO and number of potential hits.

Feb 10, 2012 09:07 AM #2
Cal Yoder
Keller Williams Elite - Lititz, PA
Homes For Sale in Lancaster PA - 717.413.0744

Great to hear from Russel again. Thanks for an extremely detailed list.


Feb 10, 2012 12:03 PM #3
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Hi Jim, I can only second this.  Just had a deal fall apart after home inspections mostly because of issues that could have been avoided with regular maintenance.  Buyers were worried of what they would find later down the road in addition to the issues that were detected by the home inspection.  All the best to all!

Feb 10, 2012 12:23 PM #4
An Idabel OK Broker ~ Judi K Barrett
Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma - Idabel, OK
BA, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

How's the wordpress sites coming along for Russel and Eric?  That can be a major undertaking.. 

Feb 10, 2012 02:53 PM #5
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

An excellent list! That first sentence holds so much truth.."The perfect home simply does not exist." Tell Russel hello and wishing all well from Florida!

Feb 11, 2012 01:08 AM #6
Al & Peggy Cunningham, Brokers
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage - Brampton, ON
Our Family Wants To Help Your Family!

Russel writes a very comprehensive list here Jim. Excellent advice as always.

Feb 11, 2012 02:30 AM #7
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hi Jim,  Great list and advice from Russel,  Tell him we miss him in the rain.  Have a great weekend!

Feb 11, 2012 03:54 AM #8
Gloria Todor
Century 21 Absolute Realty - Media, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Hi Jim, Seller's can really make the process of selling their house a lot easier by follwing Russel's advise.

All the best.


Feb 11, 2012 03:08 PM #9
Anna Dovger
Add Value Home Staging LLC, 281-704-6607 - The Woodlands, TX
Home Staging -The Woodlands, TX

Jim, thank you for featuring Russel's post. As always very comprehensive information. I've missed his blogs here on AR;-(

Feb 11, 2012 03:27 PM #10
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Jim Frimmer

Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist
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