After you’ve accepted a contract from a buyer to purchase your home, the following 10 days are the LONGEST days of your life. (well, except the last 10 days of a pregnancy) Unless otherwise negotiated in the contract, the buyer has 10 days to inspect the property they’re buying. So, what can you expect, as a seller, during this time and what should you prepare for during the inspection?
The buyer has chosen to buy your home. They likely spent 20 minutes wandering around to check the layout and see if you had any fancy appliances or granite. Then they moved on, looked at 10 other homes and then decided, “Yes, I will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for that home for the next 30 years of my life”. (because isn’t always the goal to live there forever?) Understandably, they need to be able to get a closer look at this place before they really feel comfortable with that statement. You, as the seller may leave this period feeling violated if not prepared. What kind of things will they be doing anyway?
The Official Home Inspection
The official home inspection is typically done by a certified, licensed Home Inspector, chosen by the buyer. They will spend approximately 1hr-1.5hrs per 1,000 sqft of home, approx 30 min for a pool/hot tub, 30 min for yards and approx 30 min- 1hr to review the inspection with the buyer when they’re done. For an average 2,000 sqft home with a pool, you can expect to be out of the home for 4-5 hours. Most sellers want to know if they can stay for the inspection. NO you can not. This is the Buyer’s inspection, not yours. They want to have the comfort of performing the complete inspection without that awkward “I’m going to be nosy in this room now” feeling they get when the seller is home. If the buyer feels that they did not get a fair inspection due to your distraction, this can come back on you, even after the sale is completed, so it is best for you to be out of the home.
What is the inspector looking for?
Ultimately, the inspector is looking for any potential problems with the home. No home is perfect, and most buyers know that. The inspector is just giving them a non-partial, realistic expectation of what the buyer can expect when they move in. Do all of the outlets work? How old are the appliances, AC unit and pool equipment? Is all the plumbing working correctly? Is the home about to fall over? Ok, so that last one may be an exaggeration, but sometimes it does seem like the inspection report is really just an estimate of how much longer till the home collapses. All Inspections are like Doomsday predictions. It doesn’t matter how much you love your home, how well you’ve cared for it… or how well the inspection went when you bought it. The inspector will find a long list of things that could be better, and the buyer will want you to fix them.
The Buyers Inspection
Most sellers assume that a licensed professional is going to visit the home, check everything out, predict the end of the homes life, and then we all move forward. Surprise! Some buyers like to see everything for themselves as well. The most important inspection a buyer can do, is to imagine that they are living in the home. This is their last chance to change their mind before it’s too late. They will sit on the couch, they will open cupboards and closets, they may even use your bathroom. *GASP* And not all will put the seat back down! Yes… the violation is real. They will wander room to room and imagine life in your home, and there is nothing you can do about it.
So, how do you prepare for this house raping? Pack it up! The moment you decided to move, you should have made arrangements to have your personal belongings put away in storage or in boxes in the garage (away from the walls). You do not need your grandmothers antiques on the dresser. You do not need every appliance that you own. You do not need the winter wardrobe that you’ll ignore for the next 8 months. So pack up your home to the bare minimum, and ‘rough it’ for a while. At least then, when people are wondering through your home, it won’t feel like they’re poking through your life. Remember, this is no longer your home… it’s just the place you’re staying till the new owners move in.