In California, there is no law regarding inspecting your home prior to selling it. However, a smart seller will do standard inspections, such as:
- Termite/Pest Inspection
- Home Inspection
- Septic Inspection
- Well Inspection
While it is true that the buyer is responsible for getting her own inspections, the seller is well advised to have these reports done before the property is put on the market. The results of these reports will help determine at what price you should initially list the property and also identify issues that need attention prior to putting it on the market.
At a minimum, the savvy seller will pay for her own pest (termite) and home inspections. If it’s an average sized home, these inspections will cost approximately $150 and $450, respectively. If your home has a septic system, you should also have a septic inspection performed before your put your home on the market; the cost for this is usually somewhere between $400 and $600.
A septic problem can be a costly issue that you’ll need to allow for. A home with septic problems is extremely difficult to sell, and it is best to make sure your home’s septic system is functioning well to avoid any surprises during the sale.
When you get a home inspection, the report will probably note some items on there which should be addressed. Pay particular attention to items concerning plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, roof, foundation/drainage issues, and anything having to do with lead, asbestos or mold, as these items are important health and safety concerns. Another important consideration is that these items can be expensive to repair. A wise seller would do as the home inspection suggests – contact the appropriate tradesman for further inspection.
The appropriate tradesman may be an electrician, plumber, roofer, etc., who will inspect the home and give you an estimate for repair. Whether or not you do the repair depends on your marketing strategy, but having the repair estimates will be very useful when determining the asking price for your property and as material facts for the disclosure package you’ll need to make available to any buyers.
Even if a homeowner decides to sell as-is (as many sellers do) without any repairs, investing in these inspection reports and providing them to buyers before they make an offer is money very well spent. Disclosing items such as termite damage or worn roofing from the get-go removes the prime negotiating tool buyers use to whittle the price down after they are in contract.