Selling a home can be a stressful experience for most homeowners. It’s your job as an agent to keep sellers calm and focused on the big picture; however, when it comes to home inspections, most homeowners aren’t used to having a stranger peer into their attic, open every cupboard and closet or test every appliance. For some, this stress can turn into a major nightmare.
While most sellers look at inspectors as the bearers of only bad news, there are some positive factors, as well. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, a “home inspection can give [sellers] the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.” In addition to this, home inspections can ensure a smooth transaction and assist sellers in receiving the asking price. When the inspector finds major issues, though, some agents may be caught off guard and unsure of how to react. Since maintaining your cool is a must, here are three tips for navigating the home inspection process with your clients.
- Prepare them for the inevitable.
When the home inspector comes through and begins pointing out flaws, many homeowners take the comments personally. This is why it’s important to make sure that not only is your client’s house ready for inspection, but that your clients are, too. Before the inspection process, it can be helpful to do a walk-through of the home yourself and point out potential issues. However, keep in mind that there’s a way to engage with the seller to talk about repairs without being confrontational. For example, take a walk with your clients through the house, and if you see a stain from a leak or a faulty switch, say, “Huh.” They will likely ask, “Do you think I should fix that?” This is your opportunity to approach the topic of repairs by non-confrontationally stating, “I would.” If your clients are already aware of potential issues, it won’t come as a shock when the inspector points them out, and it will give them the opportunity to fix it preemptively.
- Be proactive.
Before the inspector arrives, talk with your sellers about whether they plan to be in the house during the inspection. If the buyers will also be attending the inspection, the best thing for both parties is to keep the sellers away and occupied for the duration. If the sellers are concerned that they won’t be able to answer questions or explain an issue with the home, let them know they can leave their contact information at the house and have the buyers or inspector call with any pressing questions. If the buyers will not be attending the inspection, it could be beneficial to have the sellers onsite. As the inspector surveys the house, you can calmly ask your clients about the mysterious stain on the ceiling or why they installed an appliance the way they did. This can help alleviate any tense or awkward moments by keeping your client’s attention focused on your conversation, rather than the inspector recording all the things that are wrong with their home.
- Keep the peace.
When the time comes for the actual inspection process, take a minute to remind your clients that the home inspector is simply doing his or her job. Emphasizing this fact can help keep sellers grounded, even when the inspector comments on the improper installation of their favorite fixture. If the buyers are present during the inspection and your clients insist on remaining in the home, tell them pointedly that a number of real estate deals fall through when buyers and sellers get tangled in tense situations. Let your clients know that you understand how important their home is to them, but that taking the emotion out of the situation can be beneficial to all parties. If the sellers do start to get worked up about the inspection or a comment made by a potential buyer, try to redirect their attention and remind them about why they’re selling their home in the first place. As much as possible, focus their attention on the bigger picture and their end goal: getting the best return on their investment and finding a new home.
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