No matter whether you’re buying or selling, the home inspection process can be somewhat terrifying: For sellers, it’s a stark reminder of the nagging issues you might have turned a blind eye to over the years. And for buyers, it’s a recipe for pure heartbreak—falling in love with a home that might just end up making no sense to buy.
But don’t let the inspection stress you out. And remember, that’s not what your inspector wants either—all he or she wants is a comprehensive to-do list and a happy client.
So form a team with your home inspector to make the process easier and more effective. Knowledge is key! Here are seven essential things you keep in mind.
1. Move your pets
We know your puppy is adorable—but even if your home inspector loves dogs or cats, pets running underfoot makes the job much more difficult.
Inspections often require opening exterior doors again and again, offering pets far too many opportunities to dash to freedom. When you leave the premises for the inspection—and many inspectors ask sellers to do so—take your pets with you. Please.
2. Don’t forget to clean
Whether you plan on being there for the inspection or not, make sure to clean up beforehand. No, you don’t need to scrub—an inspector won’t ding you because your stove’s grimy. But all that clutter? Yeah, that’s all got to go. Often, the inspection is the first time the buyers are (almost) alone in the house for an extended period of time.
1. Your potential home will have problems
Your home inspector will likely come up with a seemingly endless list of problems after the walk-through. Don’t panic! Yeah, there are times when you should worry (we’ll get to those a bit later). But not every issue is mission-critical, and your inspector will know which problems you should tackle first.
2. Almost anything can be fixed
There are a few starkly frightening home inspection terms that seem to be in everyone’s vocabulary: mold, radon, and asbestos. And yes, they’re scary—but no scarier than a roof that needs replacing, home inspectors say.
Don’t worry so much about mold and radon! Everything is upgradable, fixable, or replaceable. You just need to have a list of what those things are. Not convinced yet? Check out this Washington Post article about a couple who got a discount on a four-bedroom Colonial because they weren’t terrified by mold.
3. One thing you should worry about is water
Here’s one problem we give you permission to stress out about (just a little): water. No, it’s not a deal breaker (remember that part where we wrote almost anything can be fixed?). But it’s important to address any water-related issues before the deal closes—or at least immediately afterward.
Make a note of issues such as puddles and leaky ceilings. And give special attention to the basement. Addressing water problems in the basement can be an expensive and difficult proposition. A wet basement can be hard to fix.
4. Home inspectors can’t predict the future
You might want to know how many more years the roof will hold up—and while your inspector might be able to give you a rough estimate, he can’t give you a precise timeline.
5. Find the balance between your heart and brain
It’s easy to forget your love for the home when you’re counting the dollar signs and hours you might have to spend on repairs. But just remember to take a deep breath, think rationally, and consider whether it’s a smart investment in your future.