How home sellers can prepare for the inspection

A lot can ride on the inspection when selling your house, and preparing ahead of time can make all the difference

Home inspector checks a clipboard at construction site

Published on

December 4, 2022


In this article:

When selling your house, the home inspection will be one of the more important hurdles to clear before closing, as it can change the terms of the sale or cause it to fall through. It’s not uncommon for buyers to ask sellers to issue a credit to repair issues flagged during the inspection, or for buyers to back out if serious issues are found.

Fortunately, preparing and knowing what to expect can set you up for a smooth inspection.

What to expect from the inspection

Typically, the home inspection will be performed within a few days after the buyer has signed a purchase agreement and before the closing. Buyers are not required to conduct an inspection, though it’s rare they waive it.

The inspector will perform a visual assessment of your house's structure and mechanical systems, including the roof, ceilings, walls, floors, windows and doors. He or she will also check that major appliances are functional, and examine the HVAC system, plumbing and electrical systems.

Although an experienced inspector will be paying attention to these things, some issues that go unnoticed, such as pests, asbestos, mold or other potentially hazardous substances might go unnoticed. An inspector will not check structures that aren’t easily accessible, such as a septic tank.

The inspector will take notes and pictures, and issue objective opinions on the home’s condition. The buyer is also able to attend the inspection, though they don’t always. An inspection typically takes a couple of hours, depending on the size of the home.  

How a seller should prepare for a home inspection

In this section, let’s go over some checklist items sellers should be mindful of.

1. Vacate the home

You and your family should plan to vacate the property during the inspection, which will likely take around two hours. (inspectors are known for arriving early, so don’t wait to vacate). The total time will depend on the size of your home and what issues need to be looked into. If you have any pets, you should plan to take them with you also.

2. Clean the home ahead of time and provide easy access to areas that need to be inspected.

While the tidiness of your home won’t be inspected per se, impressions do make a difference, especially if the buyer is attending the inspection. Make sure there is nothing impeding access to areas that need to be inspected, as that could slow down the process or raise concern that something is being hidden. This includes attics, furnace rooms, and under sinks.

3. Trim up and clear the outside of the home.

Similarly, make sure there is nothing impeding the inspector from accessing systems and structures on the outside of the house. This includes siding, trims, and caulking around windows and doors.

Before you leave, make sure to unlock anything that the inspector will need access to, such as the electric box or any gates.

4. Check the roof

Although it’s something sellers can overlook, the roof is an important component of the inspection, so it’s best to check for and fix any issues before the inspection. Make sure to clean moss and debris from the gutters, check for damaged or missing tiles, and make sure downspouts are properly positioned.

5. Fix or replace light fixtures

Make sure to replace any bulbs that are out and fix any lights that are not working, as it may lead the inspector to wonder whether there is a defect with the wiring or electrical system.

6. Check all the doors

Ensure that all windows lock and close properly, have no visible cracks, and do not let water in. All doors should open and lock properly, firmly attach to the hinge, and have doorknobs that are firmly attached.

7. Check the pipes, toilets, and showers

Make sure there are no existing issues with the plumbing system and pay close attention to any leaks, water damage, or puddles forming outside your home.

8. Resolve any insect or rodent issues

One of the fattest ways to turn a buyer off is to have them find out your home is infested with bugs or rodents. A single spider probably isn’t something to sweat, but make sure there isn’t a larger problem that requires a professional exterminator.

9. Replace the furnace filter  

Although it may not make or break the inspection, putting in a new furnace filter will signal to the inspector that you have been taking care of your home’s HVAC system, as the filter is important for overall air quality and heating system function.

10. Check the stove top and fireplace

If you have a gas stove top and fireplace, make sure they are working and flames properly. Even if you don't use your fireplace often, expect the inspector to check it.

About the author

Pederson Real Estate Law

Pederson Real Estate Law is a boutique law firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut. We provide experienced, efficient legal services for clients in residential real estate closings —purchases, sales, and refinances.