TRULIA’S BLOG \ REAL ESTATE 101
10 Uncommon Home Inspections to Consider Before Selling
By Meaghan Agnew | July 16, 2015
The savvy seller knows to get ahead of the game. Pest inspections, foundation assessments, mold testing — there are plenty of specialty inspections you can have done on your home while prepping it for sale.
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Hire inspectors to perform these 10 specialized home inspections to reveal potential problems before you’re scrambling to close on your home sale.
Selling your home can be a fraught proposition in even the most booming of markets. In particular, it’s that looming home inspection that can trigger the night sweats.
What will the inspector discover? What hidden home flaws will end up costing you?
The savvy seller, however, knows to get ahead of the game. Pest inspections, foundation assessments, mold testing — there are plenty of specialty inspections you can have done on your home while prepping it for sale.
Here are 10 uncommon home inspections you might want to consider before listing your property.
1. Termites and other pests
Mice are the pests you see; termites and their buggy counterparts are the ones you don’t. A proper pest inspector will get into your home’s crawl space and turn up any evidence that six-leggers have been snacking on your beams. They can also look for dry rot, which is caused by fungi and can also lead to wood disintegration.
Scary but true: If your home was built before 1975, there’s a good chance asbestos is present in one or more of its building materials. It’s most commonly seen as thermal insulation in basements, but back in the day, asbestos could be found in anything from window caulk to attic insulation.
Now for the good news: In and of itself, asbestos isn’t a health hazard. It’s only when it begins to crumble that you should worry. Bring in an inspector to assess the condition of any known asbestos; if he recommends removal, tackle that before listing.
If yours is an older home, the threat of foundation settling looms large. A bit of settling is expected, but when you’re heading into Tower of Pisa territory, that’s where the troubles start.
A foundation engineer can come in and look for telltale signs — a cracked wall, a twisted window frame, horizontal cracks in the foundation itself — and then offer a timetable for repair. (Foundations settle very slowly, and if a buyer plans to stay in the home for only a few years, they might not be as concerned.)
Houses go through many iterations: a home business here, a couple of rental apartments there. That also means a lot of electrical rewiring, which can lead to code violations. Bring in an electrician you trust who’s also familiar with the neighborhood architecture and history so they know what problems to look for.
Sure, that wood-burning fireplace is a major draw to buyers, but you’re also going to field a lot of questions about its condition. A chimney inspector can make sure the flue liners and inside bricks are in good shape and that smoke is exiting the house properly.
If yours is a nonworking fireplace with the potential of being opened back up (another buyer draw), you might want to send someone up to your roof to inspect the chimney exterior.
Again, just because lead paint was officially banned in 1978 doesn’t mean it isn’t still lurking in your home — it might be left over from a bygone era or have been illegally applied in the ’80s.
If you have any concerns — and especially if your home is likely to attract buyers with young children — bring in a certified lead abatement contractor. At the least, you’re doing the neighborhood a public health service.
Roof repair is one of those expenditures that make buyers wish they’d never entered the real estate market in the first place. Hire someone who specializes in your specific roof material (rubber, slate), and if damage exists, get a firm estimate on the repairs or replacement so a buyer doesn’t overstate those costs later during negotiations.
If you live on a hill, there’s always a chance the soil could crumble in ferocious weather; a soil inspector can affirm your land’s stability. If you have a large plot that might woo potential gardeners, an inspector can also test for soil contamination.
You love that gnarled old chestnut in the backyard but have always wondered why its leaves grew so sparsely. Before pitching the idea of a treehouse to the next owners, bring in an arborist to test the tree’s long-term viability.
Tree care, including removal, is surprisingly costly, so buyers tend to grumble about old-growth beauties that are unstable or otherwise unhealthy.
It’s not just for hypochondriacs anymore. The health dangers of mold are well documented, and its threat frequently looms in the minds of real estate shoppers. A good mold inspector will ask you the history of the home, including any past water damage, and then do a visual tour of your place before testing for various spores.