You've signed with the sellers, you're adding the final flourishes to the MLS listing and the FOR SALE signs are in your car trunk, ready to plant. But is the home ready? Sure, it's a gorgeous house on a nice lot - the buyers will line up to bid on it. But is it ready for a home inspection?
Not long ago a buyer hired me to inspect a house built in the 1930's; a classic tudor cottage. It immediately impressed me with its lovely paint scheme, lustrous floors, and high quality bath and kitchen fixtures. Everything from the floor up was perfect - a dream home. But the crawlspace under the floor was a nightmare. A leak from the beautiful tiled shower in the master bath had moistened the sill plate, band joist, and several floor joists. The wood crumbled beneath the pressure of my fingers. My Inspection Report shoed photos of the damage alongside the written details. Only twelve inches separated the floor framing from the dirt, so nobody wanted to squeeze in to the crawlspace to check it out. It was only luck that led the buyer to hire a skinny, motivated inspector.
Luckily the buyers weren't frightened and the seller's agent knew a good contractor. The contractor fixed the problem and probably bought a new truck.
My Point? No one was prepared for this outcome. It surprised the buyer, the seller, and both agents. Everyone worried. They pushed back the closing date. They had to hurry to find a qualified contractor.
My Recommendation: If you list a house, do a basic inspection yourself. Run water in the sinks and check for leaks with a flashlight. Look for leak stains on the walls and ceilings. Turn on the dryer and make sure warm air blows out of the exterior vent. There are many things you can find if you take the time to look for them. And hire an inspector to examine the attic, roof, and crawlspace, and the other systems that could be lurking to surprise you.
I have agreements with several agents who regularly hire me to inspect their listings before the home hits the market. They know that eliminating surprises allows the homes to sell more quickly and with fewer hassles.
Always make sure that your inspector is licensed (if your state requires licensing) and/or certified by a national certification body like NACHI or ASHI. The inspector should provide a written contract which names the Standards of Practice which the inspector will meet. Ask the inspector to provide you with a copy of the Standars of Practice. And the inspector should provide you with a written report, preferably with photos, describing his findings.
Hiring a Home Inspector before you list the home could save you a lot of time, and worry, and money.