5 home inspection surprises to watch for

For people who are selling their homes, the home inspection process can often unveil some costly issues. As a licensed Realtor with more than 30 years of experience helping my clients buy and sell homes in the Arlington, Virginia area, I’ve seen thousands of home inspections and am familiar with what often comes up. While you might expect to hear about plumbing or roofing problems, there are a few other under-the-radar issues you might be surprised that often show up. I’ve shared a few of them here, along with some good news for home sellers: Most of these can be easily addressed with a little foresight and easy DIY maintenance:

When Gutter Covers Go Bad: According to a recent article in Arlington Now, when your neighborhood is “leafy” (as most neighborhoods in Arlington are), gutter covers may seem like a good idea for keeping leaves and debris from clogging exterior drainage. Think again. According to the article, they aren’t as maintenance-free as advertised and can actually increase roof runoff, especially on medium- to steep-pitched roofs, adding to moisture buildup around the foundation of the house and leaving basements vulnerable. Oh, and the debris you’re trying to keep out can still build up underneath those gutter guards, hiding a problem as it continually compounds itself. Whether you have gutter guards or not, regular cleaning and maintenance is the best policy.

Failing Sealant: Contrary to what the salespeople at your local home improvement store may say, silicone is not the answer to everything. It may seem like an easy fix to apply silicone sealant around leaky faucets, drafty windows or even to adhere loose tiles, but it’s not permanent and only serves as a temporary fix that will alert the suspicions of home inspectors for potential problems hiding beneath. A better choice is to use paintable caulk for easy home repairs like these.

Odor: It’s a good practice to pay attention when visitors mention any off-putting or suspicious smells, or if you notice anything usual in your home. Musty odors can signal wet basements, plumbing, mold, or problems with your HVAC.  Also, when trying to sell a home, nothing is more off-putting than offensive odors from pets, smoking, cooking or damp. Scent sells, but stink can kill the sale, or at least really hurt your profit. If you have pets, past moisture issues, love to cook exotic foods, or even a hint of odors might be offensive to others, a thorough cleaning will go a long way to increasing the attractiveness of your home. For more ideas about how scent can help sell your home, check out THIS ARTICLE.

Soggy Basements: Many homes here in the Arlington area have basements. Some have been converted into useable spaces for everything from spirited family pool tournaments to dedicated oenophile’s wine cellars. Others are used simply for storage and extra space. No matter what you use your basement for, they are all susceptible to the damages that moisture seepage can cause. Everything from winter’s thaw to errant landscape irrigation systems to the gutter covers we mentioned earlier can cause mold, flooding, or damage to your foundation – all costly issues. Keep an eye out for any indication of these issues, and find licensed contractors experience in basement waterproofing to give you a bid on repairing minor issues and protecting your basement before moisture problems get out of control.

Homeowner Neglect: This may surprise you, but one of the biggest issues that home inspections spotlight is homeowner neglect. A poorly maintained home is the cause of many issues that home inspectors are looking for including dryer vents or air filters that have never been cleaned, wood rot that has been allowed to fester for years, overtaxed garbage disposals, HVAC systems that have never been serviced, and more.

Here’s a cold, hard fact for improving your profit potential when selling a home: All those little repairs you’ve been meaning to do will actually cost less if done BEFORE the sale. Once buyers notice that repairs are needed, or inspectors point them out in excruciating detail, it can start causing issues. Buyers might wonder “what else needs fixing that we didn’t find?” They might wonder if the home has been maintained properly, and it could affect their offer. Or they could even request extensive repairs as part of the negotiation process that will cost much more than if you’d done the simple repair earlier on. Regular maintenance and servicing is the key to keeping the repairman from your door – and increasing your profit potential when you decide to sell.