The Buyer will probably get a home inspection and may ask for things to be repaired based on the inspection. Many things found on the home inspection can be avoided with some home maintenance.
The very best way is to hire a home inspector prior to placing the home on the market. It will eliminate surprises later. You will have a chance to repair small issues such as electrical outlet with faulty ground or failed seal around a tub; new outlet is $3 or tube of caulk is $5.
Below are a few things that are often on a home inspection that you may be able to avoid or things you can do to make the home look well maintained.
- Smoke detectors must all work. Check all and replace batteries. If they are over 10 years old replace. It is considered a safety issue. US Fire Administration and FEMA recommend replacing every 10 years. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/smoke_alarms.html
- Lights. Replace all burned out light bulbs. Home inspector will not know if the light fixture is operating property or just a burned-out bulb. They may recommend a licensed Electrician to evaluate due to the possibility the fixture is not functioning property. Replacing light bulbs prior is less expensive. While you are there clean all light globes, no bugs, not dust, not cobwebs. Please have the same color bulbs through the house, it just looks so much better.
- HVAC system is a big item. Replace air filters. Spray down and clean both inside and outside units. Remove debris/weed/vegetation from around exterior unit. Clean all vents; if the vents look dirty people think mold. If the air handler has mildew on it, clean it. People think it is mold and panic. Remove any question of mold. You never want a home inspector to recommend a mold inspection. The home inspector will visually inspect system and often recommend servicing. I suggest have your annual service/inspection done and have the technician write on the invoice the system is functioning normally. Provide this to Buyer and home inspector.
- Water Heater: make sure it is clean and looks new. Make sure the electrical wires are secure and the coupling holding the wire in place is tight. The emergency relief valve should have a pipe for hot water to escape, this should be piped outside the house or down to within about a foot from the ground. Hot water spraying in the face is a serious safety issue. Is there rust around the bottom? Is there water in the drain pain? If so that is signs the water heater is leaking. You may want to get it checked out. Clean off any corrosion or signs of previous leaks.
- Termite: If you do not have a termite warranty or bond I highly suggest that you get one. Lenders will require an inspection and if there are termites you will have to treat and most likely have an engineer verify there is no damage. Having a warranty eliminates this issue.
- Check all outlets and switches. If a switch does not work the home inspector will recommend a licensed Electrician to evaluate. It could be the switch does not even have wires behind it, just a place holder. Or the switch turns on an outlet where there is no lamp. You can put a label on it. If the switch is broken, then replace; new switch is $5. Outlet that does not work needs to be replaced. GFCI must work for safety. Replacing now will prevent them from being on a home inspection.
- Faucets: Remove all hard water buildup from faucets, showers and fixtures. Inspector will check for water flow and blocked water flow brings up questions of possible pipe issues when it was just a dirty shower head. If there is a leak, fix it. Is the hot and cold reversed: safety issues. A child could turn on the hot water thinking it is the cold and be scolded. All outside faucets should be checked ensure they are working property and do not drip.
- Drains: Make sure your drains are working smoothly. Not running slow. Does the stopper hold water? You may want to put some water in each sink/tub and put the stopper in for a little while. This will rehydrate the rubber. Sometimes the drain just needs to cleaned.
- Windows: Check all windows. They should open, close, lock and tilt if that is a function. A window that opens and free falls is a safety issue; it could fall on a child’s fingers and break therm. All doors and windows must be able to lock and make the home secure. Clean your windows. A dirty window may looked fogged or as if the seal is broken.
- Doors should be able to open, close, latch and lock (if there is a lock). The door should stay open when you open it and not swing shut by itself. The door should not be hard to open or close.
- Kitchen: the home inspector may run all appliances that are staying with the house.
- Garbage disposal; run ice through it to clean the blades and a lemon to freshen it up. Stinky garbage disposal it not good.
- Empty the dishwasher. Run a clean cycle to descale. The home inspector may run a cycle to make sure it gets hot and drains.
- Refrigerator. Inspector may check temperature and general maintenance. Dump ice and let the icemaker have fresh ice; not a big clump of old ice. Wipe it down if necessary.
- Stove/oven: Inspector will check each burner and the oven. Remove all items from the oven.
- Microwave: Inspector may check to make sure it works. They may heat a small cup of water to test.
- Washer; If washer is staying with the house the inspector may run to make sure it works and drains. Please have all laundry out of the washer.
- Dryer: if dryer is staying with the house the inspector may run it. Please have all laundry out of the dryer.
- Dryer vent: the inspector will check the dryer vent outside to see if there is lent trapped and to make sure there is a cover to prevent wildlife from entering the house.
- Fans: Bath exhaust fans should work and look clean. There is a dust filter in some that needs to be changed or cleaned. Dust the ceiling fans, dirty looks unkept. Does the ceiling fan wobble? If so it is out of balance. Rarely does this come up on an inspection but it could.
- Exterior: Walk around the exterior.
- Check the seal around windows and doors. If the caulk has failed, this will be noted on the home inspection.
- Check where wires or plumbing goes into the wall. It should be sealed with foam or something to keep wildlife and water out.
- Wood Rot: Look at the exterior of the home for water stains, soft wood or rot. Bottom of boards around doors and windows are common areas. Even if you are not going to repair it now, be aware it may be requested or required by lender. You may want to get an estimate where you will be prepared.
- Cut back any bushes or trees brushing the house or roof.
- If you have an irrigation system run it. Make sure all zones work. Make sure there are not leaks and all sprinkler heads function property.
- Look for signs of erosion. Holes that are tripping hazards. Fill.
- Roof: If the appraiser feels the roof does not have 3-5 years of life they may request a new roof. If the roof is 17 years or older have a roofer to inspect it, repair anything and give you a written statement that the roof is sound and the life expectancy. If your roof is over 8 years old and has rubber vent boots get it inspected. The rubber vent boots may be dry rotted. Most Roofers will replace the boots for less than $100 each. While they are up there have them check for anything else. Ask them to write on the receipt the roof is sound and expected life expectancy.
- Fireplace. Make sure it is clean where the inspector can look up the chimney. Check that the flue open/closes. If brick check for missing mortar. Best to have a chimney sweep clean and inspect.
- Leaks: If there are any stains from leaks paint. You do not want anyone to think the roof may be leaking. That will set off all kinds of warning bells.
- Tripping Hazards: Look for tripping hazards. Raised sidewalk, broken drive; it is a safety issue. I am the Realtor® who tripped on an uneven drive at a house and broke both of her arms. It can happen.
- Clean: A clean house looks like a well-maintained house. Behind/inside refrigerator/stove, light fixtures, ceiling fans and every nook and cranny should be clean. All shrubbery cut away from house. Inspector should be able to see every inch of the exterior wall. No trees rubbing roof.
- The inspector will need access to the electrical panel, all outlets in the house and the attic. Please move objects away from blocking these areas. I am serious. The inspector will report they were not able to fully inspect because the outlets were blocked.
- Doorbell. Sounds like a little thing but they all test it.
- Garage door: Make sure it opens and closes as it should. Open the door and put something in front of the electronic sensor and press the button to close. The sensor should detect something is there and prevent the door from closing. It should open and close by touching the button one time. If you have to hold the button down to get it to close, then the safety sensor is not working.
This is not intended to replace a professional Home Inspection. It is my notes and suggestions to help you.