7 Home Inspection Questions (and Answers)

Congratulations! You've picked a great Realtor who has done an outstanding job of marketing your home and now you have an offer. This is great news! Only catch, this offer is subject to an inspection of your home. Even my most meticulous sellers; ones that have carefully maintained and cared for their home over the years - seem to shudder at this clause. Something about a having a professional go through your home and look at every detail un-nerves the calmest of sellers. 

Here are few home inspection tips that I have picked up along the way along with some answers to the most common home inspection questions. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. But a worthwhile read if it helps to calm the pre-inspection jitters even a little bit.

1. Do I need to have everything clean and showing ready prior to inspection?
The simple answer is yes. While the purpose of the inspection is to carefully look at the plumbing, electrical, construction, roof, etc. of your home the fact remains that this is the last time your buyer will be in your home prior to removing subjects and completing the sale. Sometimes they are there for the length of the inspection (up to 4 hours) so they are given plentiful opportunity to get a real feel for the place. You want them to leave excited and in even more in-love with your home so that they buy it. Knock their socks off and keep everything looking great! 

2. Can I stay home during the inspection?
While nobody, and certainly not your Realtor, can force you out of your home; it's not a great idea to stay home during an inspection. Here's why: you don't know your buyer and what drew them to your house. You don't have any idea on what they love and what kinds of things turn them off. A simple statement such as "the neighborhood kids are so great, they are always out playing in the street" could turn off a buyer who doesn't like children and certainly doesn't want to be tripping over them in the street. Other times, repairs that are agreed to during the inspection that their real estate agents could have better negotiated had seller not been present. Case in point, during a home inspection, my lovely seller...anxious to complete the sale of his home - agreed to host a "welcome to the neighborhood" event for the buyers! Definitely above and beyond, and also definitely something that would have never would happened if the seller and the buyer never met. 

3. Is there anything I should be doing prior to inspection to get ready?
Absolutely! As the seller you can make this process as easy as possible by preparing your home for the inspector:
 
  1. Ensure that there is clear access to every area the inspector will be looking at. Clear away any items for the areas immediately below the attic access. Sometimes this means clearing out a closet as attic access is commonly located there. If attic access is screwed or nailed shut, open it. A lot of inspectors refuse to open a sealed access which has led to me, your Realtor, on a ladder in a skirt undoing an attic hatch in order to move things along. 

  2. Clear away any shelving or wall hangings concealing the electrical panel. Often located in the garage or the basement where storage is usual and again, some inspectors will refuse to remove it. 

  3.Same goes for the crawl space. Make sure it's accessible and easy to open. 

4. Will I get a copy of the inspection report once it's done?
No, usually not. The inspection report is the property of the buyers - as they have paid for it - and they are not obligated to share it with the seller. Sometimes a buyer's agent will send relevant pages from the home inspection report to the seller's agent when they are negotiating repairs.

5. What happens if something comes up during inspection that needs repair?
The purpose of inspection is for the buyers to get a good idea on what needs to be addressed immediately in the home and what may need addressing down the road. For example, a roof may be just fine now but an inspector can advise a buyer, that it will require repair within 3-5 years. Other things may be more urgent; like a leak - may need repair right away.

6. What repairs can reasonably be asked from the seller as part of the sale price? 
This is completely subjective to each buyer's comfort level. Some buyers may have owned many homes and be quite savvy. They know when looking at a 35 year old home, that they will likely have to do many updates and repairs along the way. Other buyers have stretched their last dollar to come up with the purchase price and may not be as comfortable budgeting for future repairs and want the peace of mind of knowing that there won't be any in the immediate future. It's your Realtor's job to negotiate these things with the buyer's agent. There are some sellers that are quite happy and willing to do a few repairs, others that won't and would rather lose the buyer, and some that prefer to reduce the price of the home in accordance with the price of the repairs. Your Realtor can discuss these options with you and ideally work out an agreement that works for both the seller and the buyer and paves the path to a smooth transaction.

7. What about my condo? Does the inspector need access to the building or just my unit?
During a condo inspection the unit is inspected as well as the building. The inspector will look at the underground parking, storage areas, and common rooms. Therefore, leaving keys and fobs for all of these areas is helpful. The home inspector will also ask for access to the roof and to the boiler room and electrical room if applicable. Almost all strata companies say no to this request, but all inspectors ask anyways so be prepared to run the request through your strata management company. 

Trust me, you will make it through the inspection and move forward with a firm sale on your home. Your Realtor is the expect and this guidance will help you get thorough the process. Before you know it, you will be the one house shopping and writing an offer with subject to .. you guessed it - an inspection!