Home sellers should always be looking for ways to make their homes stand out from the pack. With so many potential buyers in today's market, it can be difficult to do so. However, there are a few simple tips that every homeowner should know about before listing your property on the market.
Whether you are going the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route, Listing with a Discount/Flat Fee Broker, or utilizing the benefits of a Full-Service Real Estate Agent/Brokerage, there are things you can do to set your home apart and help to potentially spend less time on the market, get you a higher selling price, and (maybe best of all) reduce the headaches and negotiations from buyers.
BUT... it IS going to cost you a little bit of money up-front.
The #1 piece of advice I can give you is to have an inspection performed by a licensed/certified inspector BEFORE you talk to a Real Estate Agent and put a For Sale sign in your yard.
I know, I know… “If I have a home inspection done, don’t I have to disclose all of those findings?”
The short answer is, Yes, you do. HOWEVER, any decent inspector worth a dime is going to find all those things when they do an inspection for the potential buyers and then you will have to deal with the buyers asking for repairs, a reduced sales price, or walking away completely, leaving you to start over with new buyers. By the way, unless specifically excluded, buyers have a right to the inspection in Texas – we wrote a blog about that.
No one wants any of those things, so I am going to tell you exactly what you need to do to minimize the chances of this happening… get a Pre-Listing Inspection! I am even going to go one step further and tell you exactly what you need to do to prepare your home for the inspection. Following these tips will nearly guarantee that your home will present amazingly to potential buyers, reduce your liability on the Seller's Disclosure, effectively eliminate negotiations, and bring in an overall higher purchase price.
Let’s talk really quick about “The Big 3”. These are the things that will kill a deal, more than any other concerns, because they are expensive. They are the Foundation, Roof, and HVAC system. If you know that any of these are broken you will simply not get away from having to address them during the Buyer’s Inspection. They are a huge concern for buyers, and rightly so. They are not cheap! These simply can not be ignored.
For the foundation, hire a Structural Engineer to evaluate it and provide a letter stating the condition. Perhaps they will determine that it is “normal movement” and not a huge concern. This will go a long way to satisfying buyer concerns. If the engineer does determine that the foundation needs repair, you can take your time to find the best company to do the repairs rather than being rushed during the sales process.
As to the roof, if you are lucky you may be able to file an insurance claim for hail damage and it will only cost you your deductible. Of course this must be a legitimate claim, for obvious reasons. Here in the San Antonio-area, it very well could be, as we typically get hail storms every year and you usually have two years from the date of the event to file a claim.
Lastly, the HVAC system. The typical life-expectancy of an air conditioner in South Texas is around 8-10 years before repairs or replacement may be necessary. Unless it is a heat pump unit (which is basically just an air conditioner in reverse), you can expect a little longer life out of the furnace since they do not get used nearly as often or have to work as hard as the A/C. Even if you do not think there is anything wrong with your system, it is solid advice to have a licensed HVAC company come out and do a tune-up to make sure it is in tiptop shape.
If you suspect that any of these 3 are failing, you might want to skip the Pre-Listing Inspection and just go ahead and address them now because the rest of this list will not matter much.
One more item that is in the mid-range of pricing, but regularly has concerns, is the water heater. Too often, these are installed incorrectly or with dissimilar metal fittings which causes corrosion and leaking at the joints. Check out your water heater and if you see anything out of the ordinary, call a licensed plumber and have them fix it.
Now, on to the smaller stuff that will help you out. Spend a day going through your home (or hire a handyman) and knock this list out. These are pretty much either surefire write-ups or make inspectors wonder, “What else is wrong or not taken care of?”.
This list is not all-inclusive but it should give you a good idea of things to look for and fix. Go through your home as if YOU were buying it and I bet you will find a few more things you will want to fix. Don’t forget that first impressions are the most lasting, so curb appeal is very important.
We would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about getting your home ready for sale or to do a Pre-Listing Inspection for you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us on our website – www.satxinspector.com, by email at Shannon@gsi-tx.com, or call us at 210-426-1332.
The housing market of 2021 was, and continues to be in 2022, without a doubt, a Seller’s Market. This means that sellers hold more power in the transaction due to an extremely low inventory. Because of this, potential buyers are often skipping the home inspection as a way to make their offer more enticing. Not only is this not advisable but it seems that a lot of buyers, and even some Real Estate Agents, do not understand what this means in terms of the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) One To Four Family Residential Contract, which is the mandated form that all Texas-licensed Real Estate Agents are required to use.
TREC NO. 20-16, Page 4 gives Buyers the right to access and to have the property inspected.
“Seller shall permit…” in legal speak, this is a mandatory action. What this means is that unless the contract is specifically amended to state that no inspections will take place, the Seller still must allow a Buyer to have an inspection performed. The Buyer is just not able to use the results of that inspection to walk away and have their Earnest Money Deposit returned like one would if there was an Option Period. Amending the contract in this way is called waiving the inspection contingency. This means you can still do an inspection for your own information and so that you know what you are purchasing.
I’ll say it again for the people in the back, doing this does NOT forego your right to have the property inspected.
Why pay for an inspection if it does not allow you to terminate the deal? What if the inspection turned up $30,000 dollar’s worth of needed repairs that were not readily-visible. Would that make the $500 inspection worth it? Is that a likely scenario, probably not… but why take a chance? What IS more likely is the inspector is going to find around $2500-5000 worth of maintenance issues and safety upgrades based on current standards that will make your new home safer for your family. There is rarely a time when hiring a home inspector is not worth it and just because it is a seller’s market does not negate the need for a professional eye on what is very likely the largest purchase of your life.
TREC One-to-Four Family Residential Contract - https://www.trec.texas.gov/sites/default/files/pdf-forms/20-16_0.pdf
Electrical dos and don'ts might just be the most confusing and frustrating part of an inspection report. Although it has been required by the National Electrical Code (NEC) for over a year in Texas, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) Standards of Practice (SOP) for Inspectors has just now caught up with a list, so Real Estate Agents and Clients may notice a lot more "Deficiencies" noted on their inspection reports. (This actually took effect on February 1st, 2022.) Regardless of when the house was built, if there is not GFCI/AFCI protection in the required locations, we are required to note it as Deficient.
Often, you will hear "grandfathered" used in cases like this. However, this is a bit of a misnomer as that is NOT an official term. These are considered a safety item and safety is not, and never should be, ignored. Of course, as always, sellers are under no obligation to correct anything in the report.
Check out the chart below for a quick reference to the requirements. One location missing from this chart, as well as the SOP is the requirement for a GFCI-protected receptacle within 25 feet of the furnace. It is required per the NEC, but did not make the TREC list for some reason. Another significant change is the requirement for GFCI protection on certain 250V circuits. I fully expect to see even MORE changes when the 2023 version of the NEC comes out.
With any luck, this will help you to communicate the whys and hows to your clients... but you can always reach out to GSI for assistance. Give us a call at 210-426-1332, drop me an email at Shannon@gsi-tx.com, or visit the website, www.satxinspector.com for more info and freebies for you and your clients.
Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) Standards of Practice (SOP)
National Electrical Code (NEC) 210.8 & 210.63