Sellers:Fix BEFORE you list!

Don't fear the home inspection, be prepared!


Welcome to the new world of “fixing to sell.” Gone are the days of throwing it on the market and seeing what happens. Prepping for sale is a highly choreographed dance of repair along with a bit of renovation and presentation.There’s something that I see generated in almost every transaction — a list of repair items found during due diligence inspections that buyers would like completed before closing. This can cause heartaches for sellers, who have negotiated their best deal and then feel “put upon” because they’re being asked to make repairs to close the sale.

The problems that arise, however, could be remedied upfront if a home inspection were done when the house was listed. Let’s face it: We live in our homes and don’t address or even see some of the issues that arise because they don’t affect our daily lives. We look at homes online with a more critical eye than we do our own homes. I have seen too many sellers caught by surprise regarding the same issues that seem to pop up frequently. A pre listing inspection is always suggested (For a pre listing Inspection consult CLICK HERE)

If you opt out of a pre listing home inspection, have the items below addressed prior to listing the house, not after your Agent has negotiated the best possible sales price with a buyer.

Fogged windows: A seal has broken, and although the window is functional, it really is “windy.” If your home has one or 12 of these drafty portals around the house, I encourage you to replace them prior to listing.

Jet tubs that leak:  Some of my recent experiences indicate that this applies to all jet tubs. In the past month, whether I was acting as a buyer’s agent or listing agent, every single jet tub has leaked in the homes that I’ve seen. Many of us don’t use bathtubs as often as we used to, and I am convinced that most jet tubs go unused for, potentially, years. Checking your tub for leaks prior to listing will ensure that no leaks appear during a home inspection. No buyer likes leaks, after all.

Water damage to exterior trim: First impressions start from the outside, and the exterior will show up in photos across a multitude of websites, etc. This is definitely an area worth spending the money. In any home that’s more than 8-10 years old, I frequently see rotten wood on exterior trim. If you can see splitting or rotten boards as you walk along the front or rear of your property, have them replaced, then caulk and paint. Nothing says “well maintained” like a coat of fresh paint on fascia and trim! Pay special attention to chimney areas on homes built before the late ’90s (and the advent of HardiePlank or cement board).

Structural and mechanical

It might not be glamorous, but buyers are looking at big-ticket items like the age and condition of the roof, air conditioning and heating systems, water heater, electrical panel and pipes. Now, I’m not saying all have to be replaced, but if any of these components are on their last leg, you might seriously need to consider replacing them as these items could factor into the kind of financing the buyer is able to obtain as well as insurability of the property.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC): These issues can be a big concern due to the cost to replace HVAC units. If your unit has rust on it and appears to be inoperable, clean it and service the unit prior to closing. Change the air filter and make sure it is in good working order!


Roofing: Are there split or missing roof shingles on your home? If so, the best thing a seller can do is pay a roofer to give the roof a once-over, replacing any missing or damaged shingles.

Appraisers are notorious for requiring a roof to be replaced, for example, as a condition of a loan when it comes to FHA and VA financing.

Replacing a roof that is at the end of its life before putting your home on the market will go a long way to solidifying buyer confidence in deciding to make an offer.

The buyer (and you) won’t have to sweat what an inspector says, deal with a potential renegotiation before closing or face a price reduction. The last thing you want to be doing is putting on a new roof in the midst of trying to pack.

If you lack the budget to replace these items, get estimates on the cost involved to replace. You can always offer to contribute to the replacement cost in the form of a credit to the buyer’s closing costs and offer a home warranty that can provide some coverage should something fail or need repair. Talk to the Team about these options.

Loose handrails or deck rails: Last year, a buyer told me that he checked the stair handrails and deck rails in homes. If they were wobbly, he took that as a sign that the house wasn’t cared for overall. Whether that’s fair or not, this is a safety issue that seems to sneak its way onto inspection reports more times than I can remember.

Gutters: Gutters that are not functional or do not properly channel water away from the foundation of the home are problems. Have them freed of debris and functional prior to listing.

Leaky showers:  And, in fact, leaky faucets throughout the house. If it leaks, it shouldn’t. Have it fixed by a licensed plumber.

Landscaping:Are the plantings overgrown, worn and wilted? What about the ground cover? Are the planting beds in need of some fresh mulch, pine straw, rock, etc.? Are there any overgrown tree limbs hanging over the house or blocking the home’s view? For a relatively inexpensive investment, you can transform how your exterior looks by trimming back and freshening things up with new plants and landscaping.

Light bulbs: Please change them! I cannot tell you how many times I have seen light bulbs missing or not working, and on every single occasion, the home inspector writes up “lights not working, have evaluated by a licensed electrician.” I asked one inspector if they tested whether the bulb was just burned out. He said, “No; if we did that, it would take us longer to complete the inspection.” Yikes! Licensed electricians cost money, and that inspector could give your future buyer the impression that there’s a major electrical issue with the home.

It is true that during the home inspection, the buyer will usually find something else beyond these fundamental fixes, but addressing these issues will decrease the risk of any deal-killers and hopefully avoid some major expenses for sellers. For more information on things to do around your home prior to listing  CONTACT US!  Also take a look at our STAGING suggestions.

Thinking of making a move? Keep us in mind! For all your Real Estate Decisions...think RED!



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