1. Have maintenance/evaluation done on the house before the home inspection is ordered. Areas to focus on include the roof, electrical system, heating and cooling system. Get a handyman in to eliminate the nuisance items prior to the inspection (i.e. sticking doors, leaking faucets, loose toilets, etc.). Buyer’s will equate problems in these areas as evidence that the home has not been cared for.
2. If you discover that a system needs major repair or replacement as the home is listed, disclose it and offer a credit to the buyer and adjust the sales price accordingly. Most buyers appreciate the honesty conveyed with an accurate disclosure and feel good about getting a credit for needed repairs.
3. Make sure you are aware that the inspection will reveal numerous defects – don’t be surprised or alarmed. Even newly built homes often have long lists of problem areas. Preparation is the key to avoiding the shock that everyone feels when they are fully informed about property condition. The buyer should avoid expecting the seller to bring the home up to today’s standards. When you buy a 1967 Mustang you don’t make the seller put in an air bag, do you?
4. Keep things in perspective. I once observed an experienced Realtor explain to a buyer that if termites are found at the property that is a good news/good news scenario. If no termites are present that is good news, but if termites are found then you will get a whole new barrier of chemicals applied and that is also good news. Most buyers forget why they fell in love with the property and how it compared with other homes as they are hearing about the problem areas. Keep your perspective.
5. Get another opinion and an accurate quote to make any repairs. Home inspectors, for good reason, are often uncomfortable making estimates of repair costs. The best bet is to always get actual bids from several licensed contractors during the re-negotiation process. Buyers and home inspectors often over-estimate the cost for repairs and sellers often under-estimate. The only figures of any value are those presented as an actual offer to perform the repair.
6. If you are deeply disturbed about the news of the homes’ condition it is probably best to let some time go by so you can process the information. Make follow-up calls to the inspector to gain additional perspective. If you are the seller, it is important to focus on the good reasons for selling and the need to work with a ready/willing buyer. Once informed about the defects they become matters to disclose to any future buyer so it makes sense to be reasonable.