One of the biggest roadblocks standing between you and the successful sale of your home could be the home inspection. Don’t lie awake nights worrying about what the inspector might find. Instead, conduct your own inspection, with the help of experts if you need them, and pass the inspection with flying colors. Here are some potential problem areas to investigate:
- Wipe out mold and mildew
- Terminate the termites
- Climb up higher
- Wash up
- The devil in the details
Wipe out mold and mildew
Toxic mold has gone high profile in recent years. So mold and mildew stains and odors can scare buyers away on sight. Chances are you won’t even get a reasonable offer if mold and mildew are suspected. Not all mold is toxic, but buyers don’t know that. Even if the mold in your house is the “normal” variety, find it and kill it.
Mold can occur in obvious situations such as after a flood or a water leak, but it can also grow in hidden places with high levels of humidity. Slow leaks, especially behind walls, cause a humidity build-up and it only takes 24 hours for black mold to germinate and grow. Depending on where it is and how much there is, you may be able to solve the problem yourself. If not, there are plenty of experts out there to do it for you.
Terminate the termites
You may not know that termites eat the wood from the inside out. And they can munch through quite a lot of it before you realize they are there. They don’t just feast on wood either. They have an appetite for a lot of tasty morsels around your home, including flooring, insulation, books, furniture, carpet—they have even been known to chew through swimming pool liners.
Most professional exterminators offer free inspections, so take advantage. An inspection might find termites that come out of the ground or flying termites. Termites cause more than $5 billion in damage every year in the U.S., an average of $3,000 per homeowner. And unfortunately, your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover the cost of repairing that damage. But if the inspector finds it before you do, it could cost you even more in a lower selling price.
Climb up higher
The home inspector will climb up on your roof, so make sure you get there before he does. There are several things to look for. Check the fitness of the roof by looking for loose or missing shingles, and repair them if needed. Even if your roof is old, it’s considered in working condition if there are no leaks. Look for damage to the chimney, flashing or eaves. Clean out the gutters and make sure downspouts are clear and water is running away from the foundation. A simple chimney cleaning can prevent chimney fires and damage to your entire house.
A good power washing gets rid of stains, algae, mold, mildew and moss. Pay special attention to your decks and porches. Algae and mold can make your deck slippery and dangerous. After you’ve cleaned things up, seal the deck, porch or stairs to help prevent future water damage. Bare wood soaks up water like a sponge, while sealing makes the water bead up and roll off. And your deck will look nicer, too.
The devil in the details
Inside and out, a good inspector will look at everything. So check these things out before the inspector arrives:
- Smoke detectors in working order
- No dripping or leaking faucets
- Appliances clean and working
- Heating and cooling systems functional
- Foundation strong and solid
If any of the items we’ve discussed present a problem that you’re not in a position to fix, you may want to consider giving an allowance to potential buyers in your listing, rather than waiting for them to find out and try to negotiate for a lower price. Do what you can to solve problems ahead of time and you can rest easy when the inspector rings your bell.