Free Guide

Your Guide to Selling a Home

Everything you need to know to buy a home without an agent.

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Inspection

Almost all buyers hire an inspector to go through the home before buying. Inspectors should have some liability insurance to cover any issues that occur while they are testing your home.

A typical inspection can take about 3 hours. Even condos and townhomes can take this long, as they also include the exterior of the home as part of the inspection. Usually buyers will attend the summary at the end of the inspection which lasts about 30 minutes, but can be longer if there are a lot of issues to point out.

Usually the inspector will start with the exterior of the home. They typically include the exterior even for condos and townhomes, so a buyer is aware of any issues that may affect them or need to address with the HOA. For example, many times a condo complex as deferred maintenance on the roof and/or siding with bare wood exposed or even holes. This can inform the buyer to check to see if the HOA is planning to address these issues, and if so – if there will be an upcoming special assessment that could cost thousands of dollars!

Typically yes, because the buyer usually has a right to inspect and see what they are buying. Unless your contract or counter-offer specifically states no inspection is allowed then you can not allow it.

Keys or Access Available

Make sure the inspector will be able to access your home for the inspection. This may be via lockbox, or with their agent or your agent, or if you are home and going to let them in. If you have additional structures (e.g., detached garage, ADU, shed, etc) be sure the inspector knows how to access them.

Include any keys for locks on windows or crawlspaces as well as any keys needed for the fireplace flue.

Utilities are on

Make sure the gas and electric and water are all on for the inspection. A buyer needs to be able to have all aspects inspected, and will need to come back again if you have something turned off. If it is winter and the water is turned off for winterization, communicate with the buyer about how to proceed.

Pilot lights on

If applicable, ensure the pilot light is lit for water heaters, furnace, fireplace, and stove.

Access to the electrical panel

Ensure the inspector can find the electrical panel and open the panel to access inside. Many people will hang a painting over the electrical panel, and some will paint over the panel sealing the access panel door shut (this is bad! Don't do that!). So be sure to point out where the electrical panel is and ensure the inspector will be able to open the panel door. Some electrical panels are on the exterior of the home.

Sellers Leave for Inspections

Sellers typically leave during inspections so the inspector can easily access all parts of the home to test (for example, you are not in the shower when they want to test the bathroom!)

Pets are vacated or constrained

Inspectors need to be able to safely walk around a home to complete the inspection. Make sure pets are either removed from the home or constrained so the inspector can do their job.

Known Defects 

If you know of a defect or potential problem that you do not want them to go through and test, such as a dishwasher that leaks, let them know so they do not damage your home! This also includes windows that are sealed shut.

Clear access paths - attic, crawlspaces

Inspectors will need to access any attic and crawlspace areas. Sometimes these are located inside a closet. Be sure to remove your personal items to make a clear path for the inspector to access.

Laundry

Remove laundry from both the clothes washer and clothes dryer. Most inspectors will not test these appliances if there are seller's personal items inside. This can cause problems where the buyer requests to come back to test them later. Note if you try to hide defects or problems, the buyer can sue you later.  Always disclose! Getting sued is much more expensive!

Sinks

Make sure all sinks are empty (e.g., no dishes in the kitchen sink or items in a laundry sink, etc.).

Smoke Detectors

One of the most common issues in home inspections is expired smoke detectors. These should be replaced every 10 years. Because this falls  into the category of Health & Safety, this may need to be addressed before closing. These are relatively cheap to replace, and easy to install so may be worth checking before the inspectors come.

Furnace and a/c filter

Another common issue can be the furnace and a/c filter (if forced air). A dirty filter can overtax the furnace and a/c unit, and also imply the level of maintenance of the home. These are also cheap to replace. 

Be sure to walk through your home after the inspection to make sure everything is okay. Things happen when inspectors test every inch of your home, so you want to make sure everything is okay. For example,

  • a running toilet that overflows and causes water damage into the room below 
  • a foot through the roof while walking the roof
  • testing a dishwasher or clothes washer and water sprays all over the floor
  • snapping off the hose valve when testing the water faucet
  • accidentally dropping their tools or toolbox causing damage.

If you find something wrong after the inspection, typically the buyer is responsible for the damage caused by who they hired. This will be state-specific and depend on the damage, so check with a local real estate agent or real estate attorney.

If you are working with a real estate agent and you are out of town for another day or so, your agent should be going through your home for you after the inspection to make sure everything looks okay. Also a good buyer agent would walk through after the inspection to ensure things are okay as well.

Inspection Report

As the seller, you may or may not receive the full inspection report. This is also state dependent and also buyer agent dependent. Most buyer agents will put together an inspection objection document detailing issues that the buyers want addressed by the seller. This will usually include references or screenshots from the inspection report, or a full copy of the report.

 

If the buyer cancels the contract and sent you the full inspection report, you need to disclose any and all material defects to other future buyers. You do not have to put the report on the MLS or the internet, but once you are under contract with a new buyer you will want to share any material defects with them right away. The easiest and safest way to do this is to share the report you received with the new buyers.

If you received any info about material defects even if you do not receive the full inspection report, you will need to disclose this to future buyers. 

Another option sellers will do is to fix the problems listed in the inspection report, then add notes to the report about how these items were addressed, and send that to future buyers along with any receipts.

Any material defects and other information should be declared in a contract form such as a Seller's Property Disclosure. 

After the inspection, sometimes new issues are pointed out that you were not aware of. If this same buyer is moving forward with the contract to buy your home, then you do not need to update your seller's property disclosure.

If the buyer cancels the contract to buy your home, then you would need to update your seller's property disclosure document based on any findings from the inspection report.

Negotiations based on Inspection

Negotiations begin again! 

Now the negotiations are about your own strategy and knowledge, as well as what you want.

Do you simply want to be done, and is the objection over some low amount like $1,000? Perhaps it is best to simply credit the buyer at closing and move on.

Or are they asking for everything in the inspection report to be addressed by the seller? First, that is unreasonable and the inspection report is to help a new home owner with all the little things as well as major things that they might want to to take care of. For example, a birds nest in the rafters, a small hole to the crawlspace, a missing light bulb, dirty furnace filter, etc. These are small things that are easily taken care of by the new home owner, and the inspection report is to help them get started as a new home owner.

This is an important point, in case your buyer is not using a real estate agent. Many buyers think that the seller should address everything in the inspection report, but that is never the case! Most buyer agents have to educate their buyers, typically first-time home buyers about what the inspection report is – a comprehensive inspection of everything a home owner would want to know about the home.

Objecting to parts of an inspection report should be reasonable and larger items, as well as health and safety issues. 

The roof is one of those expensive items that could cost over $10,000 to repair or replace. 

The roof is also something that could make a home uninhabitable. If the buyer is getting a loan and the lender learns there is a major problem with the roof, it is possible that the loan will not be approved!

If there is an objection based on the roof, determine if it is something small or big.

  • Does the roof need a repair, or full replacement.
  • Is there something structural wrong holding up the roof?
  • Is there water damage from a leak in the roof? Is there rotted wood that needs to be replaced or sistered?
  • Is there mold growing in an attic space?
  • Is the problem with the chimney, flashing, soffit, fascia, eaves, or gutters?
  • Is a skylight leaking? Is the skylight sealed shut? Note: a lot of homeowners end up sealing a skylight shut due to water leaks!
Action Items
  • Determine the extent of the damage or issue.
  • Figure out if the issue will need to be addressed before closing due to lender requirements. Note: FHA and VA loans are more strict than conventional loan requirements.
  • Consider getting 2 or 3 roofers out to inspect and provide estimates.
  • Potentially extend deadlines to explore the issue and/or address it.
  • If the buyer cancels due to the roof, consider taking the home off the market while making the repairs. Alternatively, add to the listing's private broker remarks when the new roof will be installed.
Need help?

If you need help with negotiations, consider using a good real estate agent to help. This is where we offer an option to get agent-on-demand help - contact us today by calling Liz (970) 412-1020.

HVAC is the heating and cooling for the home. This is another one of those expensive repairs if there is an issue. 

I knew the heat or a/c didn't work

If you knew that the heating or cooling source did not work and advertised in your listing this heat or cooling source, that is really bad! If you advertise that your home has central a/c for cooling and did not mention anything about it being broken, then it is your responsibility to fix this before closing (or credit the buyer). Please be careful - you can get sued for hiding material defects!

I didn't know the heat source or a/c broke

If you advertised that the home has this heat source or a/c cooling source, then it is your responsibility to negotiate with the buyer on this item. If the buyer had known there was no a/c, they would likely have offered much less for the home.

Did you get a home warranty when you listed your home?
Many real estate agents help their sellers by setting up a home warranty for free for the sellers while listing their home. Then the seller has the option to offer the home warranty to the buyer, but not required. If you have a home warranty in place, you can reach out to them for necessary repairs.

Buyers are objecting to the heat or a/c source being "near the end of life"

Ah, this is a tough objection to work with, as the sellers get upset because they working just fine and the buyers are concerned that a huge $10,000+ bill is coming up soon when the HVAC system dies.

How you handle this will depend on your situation. Is this a luxury home? Did they already over-pay with appraisal gap coverage and sales price over market value? Did they lowball and already getting a deal on your home? Is this heat source or a/c a necessity in your area (e.g., a/c in northern states may not be as necessary as in the south).

Here is another story you can use in your negotiations: one buyer bought a home with a 45 year old furnace in the crawlspace. Due to it being past its life expectancy, the buyers negotiated an extra $2,000 credit at closing. 15 years later, the buyer sold that same home with the same old furnace now 60 years old! Some of these really old systems are solid machines!

A/C units that rely on the banned R-22 freon

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the production and import of R-22 Freon, (aka R-22 refrigerant) due to the toxic harm to the ozone layer and environment. 

If your home's a/c relies on this old technology, it is getting harder and harder to find R-22 and essentially buyers know that they are going to have to upgrade their a/c (instead of repair). That doesn't mean you must replace now or credit the buyer for this type of a/c unit. 

Need help?

If you need help with negotiations, consider using a good real estate agent to help. This is where we offer an option to get agent-on-demand help - contact us today by calling Liz (970) 412-1020.

Structural issues can frequently cause a deal to fall through. If there are substantial cracks in the foundation or obvious shifts or movement of the home and foundation, the expense to address these issues can be costly, from $30,000 to $60,000 to over $150,000. 

Certain types of cracks are obviously major issues, and some cracks are minor and have nothing to do with the structure or foundation. Your best bet is to get a structural engineer to inspect, or drop the sales price considerably. Structural defects can also prevent buyers from securing a loan, so if it is really bad you may need to sell to a house flipper, investor, or wholesaler. 

Action Items
  • Determine whether the buyer wants to continue with the purchase of the home. If so, are they getting a loan? Work closely with the buyer's agent through to closing.
  • If the buyer cancels, you need to determine what you want to do next.
  • Consider hiring a structural engineer to evaluate. This is expensive. It may cost you $2,000-$4,000 for their evaluation. They should provide a plan for how to fix the problem as well as the extent of the issue.
  • Consider talking to a wholesaler or home flipper to see if you can get bids on your home "as-is".
Need help?

If you need help with negotiations, consider using a good real estate agent to help. This is where we offer an option to get agent-on-demand help - contact us today by calling Liz (970) 412-1020.

Electrical issues can be a fire hazard, so this is something that may need to be addressed.

If you have really old wiring that is no longer up to code, or recent electrical panel break box recalls can all be brought up during the inspection.

Need help?

If you need help with negotiations, consider using a good real estate agent to help. This is where we offer an option to get agent-on-demand help - contact us today by calling Liz (970) 412-1020.

If there are any leaks, this is something that should be addressed right away due to the water damage that gets worse as the leak continues. 

There are also recalls on some plumbing pipes that have a tendency to burst, with only a 10 year life expectancy. 

Need help?

If you need help with negotiations, consider using a good real estate agent to help. This is where we offer an option to get agent-on-demand help - contact us today by calling Liz (970) 412-1020.

Sewer lines can develop "bellies" or dips in the line from age and ground movement. Lines can also disconnect from the main line or roots grow into the lines blocking the path of travel.

Roots in the sewer line

This is a somewhat common problem that most homeowners need to clear their sewer lines every few years. Trees and roots migrate towards the sewer line due to access to water.

Clear the sewer line

It is relatively cheap  and easy to clear a sewer line of roots and debris. Most homes have an external access point for them to get in there, but worse case they need to remove your toilet to access the line.

Sewer line has a "belly"

Bellies are bad! But many sewer lines have a small belly somewhere along the line and it still works just fine. A larger belly will make it more difficult for the sewage to continue its path to the main sewer line. An expert can advise on whether it needs to be replaced yet or to check in again in a few years with another sewer scope.

Sewer line disconnected from the main line

Well that stinks - literally! Usually you will find sewage coming up in the yard near the disconnect. The yard needs to be dug up and the sewer line reconnected. However, this can be a bigger issue if the whole sewer line has moved due to shifting soil (such as expansive soil). You may need to dig up the whole line and possibly replace the whole sewer line, which can be costly $30,000-$60,000.

Need help?

If you need help with negotiations, consider using a good real estate agent to help. This is where we offer an option to get agent-on-demand help - contact us today by calling Liz (970) 412-1020.

There are many things that can come up in inspection. 

Negotiations at this stage are just as important as negotiations when accepting an offer. It all depends on what you want in the end, the risk you’ll take on potentially having the buyer walk away, and how much money or effort you are willing to concede.

Need help?

If you need help with negotiations, consider using a good real estate agent to help. This is where we offer an option to get agent-on-demand help – contact us today by calling Liz (970) 412-1020.

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