10 Things to Fix Before Selling—From a Home Inspector

Provided by US Inspect, a partner of Home Service Connections

When you list a home for sale, it’s the perfect time to fix odds and ends to make the home more attractive to buyers.

Home inspectors have witnessed just about everything, and what we’ve learned is that there are specific issues that must be fixed before listing. These items can be minor, but make a bad impression on buyers causing the home to be more difficult to sell.

Check out the inspector’s guide below to the top 10 things sellers must fix before listing their home.

  1. Mystery switches. Every switch should operate something, anything. A switch should not include warning labels (e.g., pull this cord at your own risk). Make sure all fixtures have working light bulbs. It’s important not to leave any questions about the integrity of the electrical system.
  2. Water stains. Water stains are big red flags. If your sellers have any concern about water intrusion anywhere, they must resolve the issue and repair damage before listing. If they aren’t sure where the water is coming from, hire an inspector or a contractor to take a closer look.
  3. Quirky thrones. Our inspectors have seen lots of toilet weirdness, the most prevalent of which includes toilets that never stop running, have loose bases or require some special knowledge to operate. The beauty of toilets, other than the fact that they make stinky stuff disappear, is that they’re generally easy to fix before listing.
  4. Fire in the hole! Buyers love fireplaces. They’re cozy. They’re romantic. And they help to reduce energy costs. But fireplaces can also be a concern if there is any uncertainty about condition, especially for buyers who have never owned a house with a fireplace. Therefore, prior to listing, make sure all fireplaces are clean and functional.
  5. Slow train drain. If your sellers’ sink or shower drains as slowly as a long-haul train takes to pass by, the issue may be minor like a hairball, but, it could be a more serious! Buyers are afraid of what they can’t see, and they’ll imagine the worst possible scenario. Encourage your clients to use a drain snake clog remover to clean out the clogs and muck.
  6. Musty basements. Follow your nose and assess your sellers’ basement. Does it smell musty? If yes, why? Do they need a dehumidifier? Do walls need to be sealed? Get it taken care of so there’s no concern from potential buyers about humidity and mold.
  7. Wiggles, shimmies, and shakes. Your sellers may know how to grab a handrail so it doesn’t wiggle or shake. But buyers won’t know, and their inspectors will certainly notice; the inspection report will scream “Safety Issue.” Ask your sellers to pretend that they’re the buyer – walk through the house and note items that need securing. Fix all wiggles before listing.
  8. Oh, oh, oh it’s magic, you know-oh-oh. If there’s something in a home that requires a “magic touch” to operate, chances are it’s something that should be on the list of repairs. Buyers who walk through a house expect every item to work the way it’s supposed to.
  9. Trip hazards. Loose carpet inside, uneven walk surfaces outside. Every trip hazard is an accident waiting to happen. When you list a home, they’ll have lots of foot traffic – fix the trip hazards (and it will look much nicer, too).
  10. No, we’re not talking about the travails of daily life; we’re talking about water pressure. Is there low pressure at the shower? Does the shower lose pressure if anyone uses another water source in the house? This may seem like a minor nuisance, but buyers and their inspectors won’t think so. Start by checking for a clogged shower head or a shower shut-off valve that has been inadvertently knocked partially closed. If that doesn’t work, retain a plumber to evaluate and fix the system.

We encourage you to work with your sellers to identify issues before listing. You can also choose to get a pre-listing inspection, which is a great tool to help identify issues that perhaps only a professional home inspector would uncover. That way, you can take care of repairs up front and put your best foot forward when listing a property.

To learn more about US Inspect, visit USInspect.com/LNF.