Welcome to our home inspection guide for you intrepid Seattle home sellers. If this means you are already through the negotiation phase, congrats! If this is you doing your homework well in advance of reaching the home inspection as a seller OR buyer—EXTRA CREDIT! We at Team Diva LOVE to keep our clients ahead of the game, so good on you.
The home inspection is one of the key steps in the home buying/selling process. Buyers may walk from the transaction after a bad inspection. It’s really hard to get a good offer from a second buyer after that, so making the home shine for inspection is critical. This does not mean anyone should try to waive home inspection. There are big risks to doing that for buyers and sellers, so we recommend following through, and following our home inspection guide.
But aren’t home inspections so stressful?
The truth is, while home inspection can be stressful, we love it. You really get to know a home through inspections, and we love our Diva Dwellings. In fact, we sometimes recommend that sellers do a pre-inspection of their own, to catch issues in advance. More on that later.
The vast majority of our Diva Dwellings sail through home inspection with flying colors. We alert our sellers to potential problems and get them fixed before the home goes on the market. (It’s part of our Diva Difference approach, to ensure that we Fix What’s Broken and Make it Pretty before listing.)
Team Diva’s Home Inspection Guide
First, the basics. A home inspection will survey everything from the roof to the foundation, to the sewer. The general condition of the building, signs of pests, major mechanics and appliances all factor in. The buyer pays for it, and it costs around $450-$1000 dollars.
The buyers take this very seriously, and you should, too. The scope of this home inspection guide is to prepare you as a seller for the inspection process. (It also assumes that you fixed any major issues before you listed the home. We at Team Diva make sure of that.)
This is where having a buyer perspective as a seller can come in handy. Read our home inspection guide for buyers as a reference. We’ll link it again below, but in brief, here are what is covered in a home inspection.
- Major systems, including plumbing and electrical.
- Structural items, including foundations, walls, siding and the impact of renovations and additions on the home.
- Crawl space and attic, where inspectors will look for evidence of vermin, leaks, exposed wires, poor upkeep etc.
- Roof, the overall condition and life expectancy of it
- Drainage issues around the entire the home
- Sewer connections, especially in older homes
Not surprisingly, no one inspector is an expert in all these things, so sometimes specialists are also brought in.
Who is at a buyer’s home inspection?
Under normal circumstances, a home inspection, the buyer’s agent, the inspection team, and hopefully the buyers themselves will be present for a home inspection. Under quarantine restrictions. only the inspectors will be present. An inspection team may include the inspector along with specialists (such as sewer specialists for older homes). They may also have a contractor present.
It is always important for home buyers to hire professional home inspectors, but it is critical when home inspectors are the main eyes and ears for buyers. During quarantine restrictions, it is helpful to look and think like a professional home inspector. In addition to this home inspection guide, read our buyer’s education blog on Home Inspection 101.
Who is not at the buyer’s home inspection?
The seller and seller’s agent are not at the inspection. When we work with home sellers, we do everything we can to prepare the home in advance. If something unforeseeable arises, it’s usually because a specialist has discovered something more structural. Barring that, we don’t need to be there to hear any nitpicking. Any incorrect claims from a less reputable home inspector will be challenged properly and professionally, not in the heat of the moment.
Bottom line: Make sure that you, family members and pets are gone during the inspection, EVEN if you aren’t under quarantine restrictions.
How much time does an inspection take?
Obviously, this answer depends on the home’s size, but around 2-5 hours is normal. It’s always more efficient when you have everything the inspector needs easily accessible.
Home Inspection Guide: Common Issues Called By Inspectors
Hot water heaters not installed to code
This is first on our list in this home inspection guide because we see it all the time during inspections with our buyers. The hot water heater should be installed with earthquake brackets, an expansion tank, a pipe that goes from the top to the floor, and it should be placed on a pan.
Ungrounded and GFCI Outlets
Per Seattle City code, outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, and near water using appliances need to be GFCI outlets. In older homes, you see this neglected a lot.
Moss happens, especially in the Northwest. It does not automatically mean that the roof is done for, but some inspectors will call it. Play it safe and call Mr. Moss to have the roof cleared in advance.
Broken Window Seals
These are easy to spot in double-paned windows that have clouded over. Fortunately, it is also a super easy fix. Just call a window specialist and they will come out and replace the pane of glass and the window seal.
Cracks in the Sewer Lines
Small cracks in the sewer line happen. NBD. But when you have a full collapse, a belly, or a seriously wonky situation? It’s a BFD and potential deal killer. This is why we strongly encourage a pre-inspection before putting older homes on the market. Best to know in advance.
What about damage from home inspectors themselves?
Okay, this is rare, but it’s worth mentioning in a home inspection guide, because it’s that 1% of times that puts a lot of us on edge.
A lot of licensed inspectors have never been contractors, let alone built a home themselves. They do a decent job, but really do not know the ins and outs of working with homes in an urban environment, especially in Seattle’s older homes.
In the heyday of multiple offers and pre-inspections, we saw some horrific situations. But know this: It is illegal for the inspector to damage your home, and we WILL get all Diva on the inspector and agents that endanger the homes of our clients.
It’s just another reason why having an experienced agent is critical: They can handle the worst-case scenarios AND know the right people to work with to help avoid those scenarios in the first place.
Home Inspection Guide: The Expectations On The Seller
The home inspector will need total access in the home, and to significant records. Ensure that the way is clear to see all the major mechanics. For instance:
- hot water heater
- electrical panel
- attic and crawl space
Have available any documents regarding major repairs and appliances, e.g.:
- roof replacement or repair
- new construction
- oil decommissioning
- appliance manuals
The home inspector may have questions afterward, so even if you aren’t present, be available to talk.
How much time do buyers have to inspect a home?
In a competitive real estate market, buyers have one or two days to do an initial inspection. Five days to a week is more standard in less competitive markets. We are currently under extraordinary circumstances, with a competitive market AND a pandemic. It boils down now to the quality of communication between the buyers, sellers and their agents, and how the contract is negotiated.
If specific issues arise during the home inspection, buyers may have 1-5 days for further investigation. This depends on the nature of the issues and the terms of the contract. Listing possible, anecdotal scenarios is beyond the scope of this home inspection guide. Just rest easy knowing that in the vast majority of cases, with proper prep this won’t apply to you.
How can the buyer respond after home inspection?
The buyer has four options once their initial inspection is complete.
- Take the home as is: Obviously, this is the outcome we want!
- Get out of the transaction: Earnest money is returned as long as they respond within the timeline of the contract.
- Ask for additional inspections and invoke those extra few days to do so: The buyer must provide information regarding the issue(s) and the inspections they wish to conduct.
- Ask for the sellers to cover repair costs: This is a common response, and buyers do this two ways. They can ask for money back from the sellers for closing costs to cover repairs OR ask the sellers to have repairs done themselves before closing. At this point, we as sellers agents would want to get as much detail as possible and get our own bids for the work.
How much time does the seller have to respond to the buyer’s home inspection response:
Two to three days. Things move fast in real estate, so that’s why it always good to have an experienced agent and educate yourself. (Which you are doing with this home inspection guide. Again, good for you!)
Home Inspection Guide: Crafting A Seller Response
A lot of people stress about home inspections because of the risks involved with transactions falling apart. As we said above, seeing a deal collapse in the transaction phase makes it harder to get top-dollar for your home, even in another deal. Getting a full-priced offer on a home that has been put back on the market is uncommon.
Most buyers will as for cash back towards closing costs or ask for repairs to be completed. This should not submarine a deal, but it can if sellers act rashly in response. The smart approach is to keep the lines of communication open and counter any bids they might have for repairs with bids of your own. As savvy listing brokers, Team Diva works closely with sellers in this phase to keep the deal moving forward.
We hope this home inspection guide helps! Let’s keep learning.
Next to the appraisal, home inspection can be the most harrowing part of the home selling process. Hopefully, this home inspection guide has demystified it a bit, but definitely keep a pro by your side. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and we know how to maximize your results while keeping costs (and stress) as low as possible.