Frequent Questions to Consider When Getting Your House Inspected

Picture this!  You put your home on the market and received numerous offers on it.  After going through them all, you selected one that worked best for you.  All parties signed the contract and now the option period begins.   You get a call the next day from the scheduling service saying that a inspection company will be coming by the house in two days to inspect the house.   What do you do?

Many sellers hate this part of the process and it is understandable.  There is nothing quite like having someone pick through your property to find everything wrong with it.   The buyers will then send you a repair amendment based on this inspection report, which means more work and money for you to do before selling this house you are leaving.   The step of getting your house inspected can be a very frustrating part of the process.

We have written the series of Frequent questions to consider when getting your house inspected to help you through this step of the process. In fact, we have frequent questions for the entire process when you are selling your home so be sure to check here when you get done reading these questions.

If you are needing help getting your house sold, please be sure to reach out to us through our contact us page.  We would love to help.


Why is my house getting inspected? – When you signed the contract with the buyers, there was a section of the contract that allowed for an option period.  This option period gives the buyer an opportunity to do due diligence on the property before purchasing the property.   During the option period, most buyers will hire an inspection company to come look over the home and tell them the condition of the property.  These inspectors look over the entire house and will note anything that is not right with the property.

What happens during the inspection? – Inspections take usually 2 to 4 hours when getting your house inspected.  Inspectors will look over everything on the house from the floors to the ceilings.  They will test appliances and major systems to ensure the systems are working as designed.   They will climb on the roof to inspect it and go into the attic to look at the insulation and the structural beams.   Your air conditioner and heater will be tested as will the various sinks and toilets.    Foundation will also be examined by the inspector and electricity will be tested.   It is invasive, but a necessary step to getting your house sold.   Just grin and bear it!

What do I need to do to get ready for the inspector? – Inspectors are not allowed to move anything for fear of liability.  You will need to be sure to give access to the inspector to all parts of the home.  The one spot most sellers forget is the garage. Sellers need to be sure that pathways to the hot water heater and electrical panel are made clear.  Sellers are advised to leave the home while the inspection takes place so make sure you have somewhere to go for up to 4 hours while it is going on.   All pets will need to be taken off the premises or at least put away in a crate somewhere.  If the inspector cannot get access to something, he or she will have to come back at a later date which could delay the whole process so be ready for them when the time comes.

Is this the only person coming to my house during the option period? – Probably not.  Most inspections will find issues with one or more systems in the house.   Inspectors only report on issues found.  They do not offer any advice on the repair cost or the extent of the damage.   Because of this, you could have a plumber, roofer, foundation company, and/or electrician come to your house to look over any damaged systems.   Once again, it is best for you to not be at the home when they are there as most likely the buyers will be with them.

Do I have to give access to my house to these complete strangers? – The contract states that you will give the buyers complete access to the property for the sake of inspecting it.  It is just part of the pain of getting your house sold.  Buyers have to give consideration for the option period, usually in the range of $50 to $100 and in return you give them access to your house.  It is time consuming, a chore and can be alarming to let these many strangers into your house, but unless you changed the contract language(which no realtor should ever do for you), you have to let the buyers and their representation into the house.

Will I get to see the inspection report when it is done? – Sometimes.  Most likely, you will get to see the sections/pages of the report that pertain to the repairs the buyers are requesting.   Buyers do not have any obligation to provide any parts of the inspection report.  After all, they paid a nice sum to get it.  However, most will be willing to give you a look because it will help you to better understand the repair request being made.   If your buyer terminates the contract after the inspection, some buyers will share the entire report if requested.  I have had other buyers request the seller to pay for the report if they wish to see it.

What will the buyers do with the inspection report? – When getting your house inspected, the buyers will take the inspection report and work with their agent to write up a repair amendment to send to you.   Hopefully, the agent is experienced enough to send over an inspection report that is self-explanatory.   Agents will often include an Appendix document for the repair request to better explain what is being requested since the space given on the Amendment form is very small.  If you do not understand what the buyers are requesting, just ask your agent to do some follow up questions.   It is best to have a complete understanding of what the buyers are requesting so you know what to repair and won’t lead to confusion later on in the process.

Do I have to accept the repairs sent by the buyer? – No.  You can reject the repair request outright if you do not want to do any repairs, but the consequence of doing this is that the buyer will most likely terminate the contract.  The best approach is to try to find a happy medium that you and the buyers can be both be content.  I always recommend to counter a repair amendment that has more than five repairs as anything more seems excessive to me.  You also have the option of accepting the repairs as presented, which many sellers end up doing to move the process along more quickly.

Can I offer to pay for the repairs and let the buyer do it instead?  Yes.  You can offer to give the buyer an allowance at closing (taken out of your proceeds) to do the repairs themselves.    Most buyers will already know how much each repair will cost them so they will have a number they are looking to get.   You need to get quotes from your own vendors to make sure the buyers are not being excessive in their expectations.   Most of the time, the two parties then work to find a common ground on how much the seller will pay the buyer for the repairs.

What other things can I offer to the buyers in lieu of doing the repairs?  – You can offer to pay for some of the buyer’s closing costs in lieu of repairs.  Many buyers actually like this idea as it can often be tight for buyers to afford both the down payment and the closing costs.  You will have to negotiate with the buyers to find the right number, but many will be willing to discuss it.  One word of caution is that some lending programs restrict the amount a seller can put toward closing costs so be sure to check with your agent before offering this to the buyer.   The second thing you can do in lieu of repairs is to offer to reduce the sales price.  Buyers will find this attractive as it lowers the amount they have to finance and means their mortgage payments will be smaller.  Finally, with some repairs (like roofs), you can’t get the mortgage approval without the repairs being completed.  If you don’t want to do the roof repairs yourself, but don’t mind paying for them.  you can put the funds in an escrow account that you will only be able to used for the roof.   In cases like this, be sure to check with the title company before offering it to the buyer as they will most likely be the ones holding the funds for repairs.

Will I have to do the repairs myself? – You have to hire a professional tradesman (plumber, roofer, electrician, etc) to do the repairs unless you negotiate with the buyers to do them yourselves (be sure to get this in explicit writing).    A professional tradesman is someone who is bonded for their workmanship or have extensive experience in the trade.   You will have to get receipts for all the vendors to provide to the buyer as proof the repairs have been done by such a tradesman.

When do the repairs have to be completed?  – Repairs have to be completed before the closing.   Most sellers will get them done early enough that it is not an issue.  However, some sellers delay to the bitter end and the closing will sometimes have to be delayed to give proper time for the repairs to be completed.  It is in your own best interest to not procrastinate on the repairs.

Will the buyer inspect the repair work? – Yes.  During the final walk through, the buyers will inspect the work done on the repairs.  If they do not meet to the buyers standard, you might be requested to do some additional repair work to make it right.    You, as the seller, need to be sure to get the repairs done correctly the first time.  Buyers can even come to you after closing to request further work on repairs if they fail quickly.