Everyone agrees that today’s residential real estate market is a challenging one. Foreclosures make the real value of a home difficult to determine.
Many homeowners are extremely disappointed when they discover that their home is worth less than they hoped or even less than they owe on it. In addition, the large inventory of available houses gives the potential buyer a lot of shopping opportunity.
In an attempt to help the lagging real estate market, the federal government is providing a tax credit of $8,000 for first-time home buyers and $6,500 for purchasers upgrading to a larger home. This applies to anyone who puts a home under contract before May 1 and closes before July 1. This means that the buyers will be out there. The challenge is making your home stand out.
One of the hurdles to selling a house is the home inspection. It makes sense for a seller to make the process as painless as possible for the home inspector. If you are in the process of selling your house, here are some ideas for preparing for the home inspection:
1. Keep your house generally neat. A home inspector has to test electrical receptacles, fill sinks and bathtubs, open windows and look up the fireplace into the chimney. Easy access to these areas gives a positive impression.
2. Move stored items out of places that the inspector needs to access. These include attics, furnaces, water heaters, electrical panel boxes, crawl spaces, and yes, bathtubs. I have moved many stored items and even cat litter boxes out of bathtubs or showers.
3. Leave the security system off. When you know that an inspector is coming, it is best to leave your security system off. Alarms going off are annoying and time consuming for the home inspector.
4. Take your dog out of the home during the inspection. No matter how friendly you think your dog is, it might not feel the same about the stranger going through its house.
5. Make sure that all of the utilities (water, gas, electricity) are turned on. If your house is vacant and has been winterized, have it professionally dewinterized before the inspection. It is not the home inspector’s job to turn the water on at the meter or turn the electricity on at the panel box.
6. Finally, if you still live in the home, it is preferable for you to leave during the inspection. The presence of the homeowner can restrict open conversation between the buyer and the home inspector. If you must stay at home, make arrangements for your children to be out of the house. Children almost always make a home inspector’s job more difficult.
In my opinion, it is perfectly legitimate for a home seller to expect that his or her house is being inspected by a professional and not Uncle Charlie who finished out his own basement. To determine the professionalism of a home inspector, ask a few simple questions.
1. Is the inspector a member of a professional association such as the American Society of Home Inspectors? Inspectors are not licensed in the state of Georgia, so membership in a professional organization that sets minimum standards of experience and knowledge is important.
2. If your house is newer, the home inspector should be certified in the building codes. The certification is called the Residential Combination Inspector certification and is issued by the International Code Council.
3. Does the inspector have general liability insurance? General liability insurance will cover the inspector if he or she gets injured performing the inspection on your house and any of your belongings that he or she may damage in the process of the inspection.
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