Preparation can save you Thousands!

Should I Hire a Home Inspector When I’m Ready to Buy or Sell?

Dear Carla,

I’m a YouTube fanatic. They have videos on everything. I know what to look for. Do I really need a professional home inspector? 

Yours truly, 

I.M. Handy

Dear Mr. Handy,

Watching YouTube makes you no more a professional home inspector then eating a Big Mac makes you Ronald McDonald.

Good Luck,

C. Jones

All joking aside, having a professional inspect your home prior to selling is not only wise, but will give you assurance that there is nothing that will bite you in the a/c, thus stopping the sale. 

It Takes a Village

Real estate agents don’t generally fly solo when selling a home. There are people behind the scenes working. As the saying goes, team work makes the dream work. Your real estate agent doesn’t have the time or experience to be everything to everybody. An agent's team will probably include appraisers, lenders, and skilled professionals, such as plumbers, painters, flooring installers, contractors, and yes, home inspectors.

Hiring an inspector who knows where to look and what to look for, saves time and money Those are two things we never seem to have enough of.

That said, there are those, who due to financial concerns or an abundance of confidence in their maintenance know-how, will choose to go the DIY route. I salute you.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Make sure when your home is being inspected you run the heater and air conditioner. No matter if it’s the dead of winter and the house is so cold your kids look like Smurfs, or it’s so hot you could bake cookies on the kitchen tile, you NEED to make sure the heater and a/c are functioning.

I Need Air

Next, check the return air filter. Is it relatively clean or completely covered in crud? Air filters should be changed at minimum twice a year. You know where it is, right? Go watch another YouTube video and learn how to replace the filter.

FYI: There are literarily dozens of different sizes and types of return air filters. When shopping for a new one, pull out the old one and write down the size that’s printed on the side. You can go to the nearest home improvement store to buy a new one, or order from Amazon on your laptop. Your call. Remember, get the same one. Size matters.

As for what type of air filter you buy, that’s up to you. Costs vary depending on what kind of dust-o-phobia you have. They range from a few dollars for the “I’m not spending a lot on something I’m planning on throwing away,” to the deluxe, Howard Hughes model. Your house, your air, your choice. 

Is Something Burning?

When inspecting the kitchen, check that all built-in appliances are in proper working order. Wouldn’t want anyone to fire up the oven for that juicy Thanksgiving turkey and end up spending the evening at IHOP, would you? Yep, pancakes for everyone. 

There’s a Fungus Among Us

He’s always been here, hiding just out of our sight, 

waiting for us to drop our guard. 

The fungus is among us.

-Mr. Clean 1965

Look under all the sinks throughout the home. Sniff. Sniff again. You think I’m kidding? Not a chance. This is prime territory for leaks and mold issues. Move all the junk from under the sink and inspect any cardboard boxes for evidence of water. If found, turn on the faucets, run the water and look for drips.

When looking for water damage or mold, you always must remember to look up, look down, look under, and sniff. Now sit. Just kidding.

Occasionally something might show up on a wall, but other common areas for leaks are in ceilings, walls above the baseboards, beneath the windows, and below the sinks. 

Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink

When it comes to water damage, rain is not your only culprit. It helps if you read this list using the Bubba Gump voice. There are slab leaks (broken pipes buried in the concrete slab), plumbing leaks, stucco leaks, leaks due to improper maintenance or the lack thereof, and toilet wax ring* (see below) failure. That’s just off the top of my head. Nervous? Sorry. 

*Wax ring failure is usually caused by a toilet not properly secured to the floor. Inspect around (don’t go squeamish on me) all the toilets. Look for discoloration around the area near the bolts. Discoloration near the front is largely due to poor aim by the male species. Clean up and disregard.

Vinyl floors will sometime turn a blueish color if water is trapped underneath. Wood will turn a much darker color. The only fix for a leaky toilet that affects the floor is to reset the toilet. Hire a plumber unless you’ve done this before.

Water damage can be subtle or obvious and can show up anywhere on the ceiling, depending on what’s up there. At the risk of looking like Chicken Little waiting for the sky to fall, we want to inspect the ceilings carefully. Don’t expect to see water dripping down from the ceiling. Yellowish-brown stains are the fossils of water intrusion. If found, call a professional to inspect and repair. 

Fiddler on the Roof

Roofs need inspection, too. There could be cracked tiles or missing shingles, but you'll only know that when viewing from the top of the house. I'm going to caution you here. Ladders can be dangerous. Falling off a ladder can lead to expensive medical bills. Unless you know what to look for, don’t go up on the roof. That’s my tip. 

Closing Thoughts

We’ve just barely scraped the surface when talking about home inspections. A qualified home inspector will dive into the nooks and crannies and provide you with a report detailing what needs repair or may become a possible issue. They’ll crawl in the attic, underneath the house, and yes, even up on the roof. Do your due diligence and vet carefully before hiring a home inspector. I'm always happy to make a referral.

My job as a realtor is to inform, educate, and serve my clients. When you're ready to purchase or sell, remember, no one knows homes like Jones knows homes.

-Carla Jones, Reliance Real Estate 

P.S. When you’re ready to sell, have your ducks all in a row. Last minute repairs tend to be more costly.