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How to Prepare For a Home Inspection in 6 Easy Steps

Home inspector checks the siding on a yellow house
fstop123 / Getty Images

Hiring a home inspector is a must for any buyer before they sign contracts or make deals. The typical real estate contract includes a contingency clause that permits the buyer to back out of the deal without losing their earnest money if, for any reason, the home inspection uncovers problems. Buyers can also choose to renegotiate the terms of the contract based on the findings of the home inspection. That’s why, as a seller, it’s essential to learn how to pass a home inspection so that the closing process can go off without a hitch.

If this has you scratching your head and typing “how to prepare for home inspection” into Google, look no further. We have the preparing for the home inspection process distilled into six easy steps.

It’s important to note that home inspection results aren’t as black and white as “pass” or “fail.” A buyer’s home inspector will evaluate parts of your home, including structural integrity, mechanical systems, electrical systems, plumbing, ventilation, interior and exterior condition, and more. They will outline all of their findings in a report, pointing out anything that needs repair or replacement.

As a seller, preparing for home inspection involves taking care of known maintenance issues ahead of time as well as creating a conducive environment for the home inspector to complete their work.

When does a home inspection usually happen?

Home inspections usually take place within two weeks of having a signed contract. This period is known as the option period, and the purchase contract outlines the exact length of time. In this period, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty.

There are several things a homeowner should do, both before and after signing a contract, to prepare for the inevitable home inspection. The home inspection tips below will give you an idea of things you can do to minimize negative inspection results and preserve as much of your home’s sale price as possible.

How to prepare for a home inspection in 6 steps:

Use this home inspection seller checklist to get everything in order before the inspector knocks on your door.

Step 1: Disclose known issues

Real estate law requires sellers to disclose known defects to the buyer. What exactly sellers must disclose varies by state. Disclosing known issues upfront is a good idea for maximizing your sale price. If you try to conceal a problem and a home inspector discovers it, it can be used against you if the buyer wants to negotiate. Disclosing ahead of time will establish the sales price with the issue already factored.

Pro tip: You don’t have to disclose defects that you don’t know about. For this reason, some real estate agents advise against sellers obtaining a pre-inspection report of their own.

Step 2: Take care of deferred maintenance

Many home inspectors will call out every flaw they can find. These flaws can add up and make your buyer think twice about how much they like your home. Inspect your house inside and out and repair anything you’ve neglected. Common issues included missing roof shingles, rotted trim, loose boards, leaky toilets, and non-working electrical outlets.

Pro tip: Replace any burnt-out lightbulbs, as an inspector could assume there’s a problem with the electrical wiring.

Step 3: Test that all parts of your home are in working condition

Make sure the systems of your home (heating, air conditioning, and water heater) are in working order. Set an appointment to have your mechanical systems inspected and serviced by a technician if it’s been a while since the last check-up. Hiring a professional ahead of time will allow you to get in front of any potential issues that any competent home inspector would discover.

Pro tip: Replace your HVAC filter just before the inspection. A clean filter will signal to the inspector that your system has been well maintained.

Step 4: Make all parts of your home accessible

Make sure no obstacles block a home inspector’s access to any part of the house, including basements and attics. If clutter blocks any access, some home inspectors might assume that the homeowner is trying to hide something. Prepare by keeping the house clean and free of clutter. Unlock all doors and gates throughout the house so they can complete the report without any hassles.

Step 5: Compile documentation

Keep a record of all the repairs you’ve made while preparing for home inspection. Have all of this paperwork at the ready in case the inspection report raises any questions about these repairs. These receipts may help you in the renegotiation process.

Step 6: Stay out of the way

While the buyer should be present during the home inspection, it’s considered good etiquette that the seller and agent steer clear of the property during the inspection process. Your presence could interfere with open dialogue between the inspector and the buyer, and can also give the impression that you’re trying to hide or minimize issues.

The bottom line

Use our home inspection seller checklist to help you avoid giving a potential buyer fodder for renegotiating the sale prices of your home.  Preparing your home for an inspection will keep you from being surprised by unexpected issues, so you won’t have to worry as much about what an inspector might find.

Frequently asked questions

What do home inspectors look at? 

Home inspectors will examine all parts of your home, both inside and out. Specifically, they inspect the grounds, structure, roofs, windows and doors, plumbing, electrical systems, mechanical systems, and condition of the interior and exterior walls.

Who pays for a home inspection? 

Buyers are responsible for paying for a home inspection because it’s for their benefit. The home inspector will deliver their report directly to the buyer.

How long does it take for a home inspection? 

A complete home inspection should take three to four hours. This is the average amount of time required for an inspector to examine and report on each part of the home.

Can a seller be at home for a home inspection? 

While sellers have the right to be present, it’s proper etiquette that they don’t hang around during an inspection. Their presence could interfere with the inspection process and be viewed negatively by the buyer.

Do buyers go to home inspections? 

Buyers should be present, but if they cannot attend, their agent should in their place. They may not have to be there for the entire time, but it’s beneficial for the buyer to have the home inspector brief them on any issues they encountered in person.


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