However, a savvy seller knows to get ahead of the game. From pest inspections to foundation assessments and mold testing, there are plenty of specialized precautions you can take to prep your home for sale.
Here are 10 uncommon presale home inspections you should consider before listing your property.
1. Termites and other pests
Mice are the pests you see; termites are the ones you don't. A proper pest inspector will get into your home's crawl space and turn up any evidence of critters in your beams. They can also spot dry rot, which is caused by fungi and can lead to wood disintegration.
If your home was built before 1975, there's a good chance asbestos is present in one or more of its building materials. Scary but true. It's most commonly seen as thermal insulation in basements, but pre-1970s, asbestos could be found in anything from window caulk to attic insulation.
Asbestos is hazardous only when it begins to crumble. Bring in an inspector to assess the condition of any known asbestos; if they recommend removal, tackle that before listing.
If you live in 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 begin.
Have a foundation engineer look for signs such as a cracked wall, twisted window frames, or horizontal cracks in the foundation itself — and then offer a timetable for repair. (Pro-tip: 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.)
Check out 13 features new homeowners desire the most:
13 features homeowners want the most
13 features homeowners want the most
1. A laundry room (92%)
2. ENERGY STAR® appliances (90%)
3. Exterior lighting (90%)
4. ENERGY STAR® rating for whole home (88%)
5. ENERGY STAR® windows (87%)
6. Ceiling fan (86%)
7. Patio (84%)
8. Full bathroom on main level (83%)
9. Hardwood on main floor (82%)
10. Insulation higher than required by code (81%)
11. Garage storage (81%)
12. Table space for eating in kitchen (80%)
13. Walk-in pantry (80%)
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Homes go through many stages: 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.
While that wood-burning fireplace is a major draw to buyers, prepare yourself for 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 you have a nonworking fireplace with the potential to be reopened (another buyer draw), you might want to send someone to your roof to inspect the chimney exterior.
Just because lead paint was banned in 1978 doesn't mean it isn't still lurking in your home.
If you have any concerns — especially if your home will 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 expense that makes buyers wish they had never entered the real estate market in the first place. Hire someone who specializes in your roof material (rubber, slate, etc.) to confirm whether damage exists, and 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, you run the risk that soil could crumble in ferocious weather. Before you sell, a soil inspector can affirm your land's stability. If you have a large plot that would captivate potential gardeners, an inspector can also test for soil contamination.
You've love that old chestnut in the backyard but have always wondered why its leaves grow 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 and removal are surprisingly costly, so buyers may be wary if those gorgeous and towering trees are unstable or otherwise unhealthy.
It's not just for hypochondriacs anymore. The health dangers of mold are well-documented, and its threat is on the minds of real estate shoppers. A good mold inspector will ask you the history of the home, including past water damage, and then do a visual tour of your place before testing for various spores.