Watch CBS News

A Home Inspector's Tips For Owners Looking To Sell

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There was a time when their two-story Inver Grove Heights home was a perfect fit for Mike and Linda Demars.

"We had a lot of gatherings, we had family," Linda Demars said.

But after 43 years, the couple is ready to downsize.

"I've got no choice. It's just too much for us," Mike Demars said.

They're ready to take steps to make the home more marketable and find a potential buyer. Linda plans to hire painters and handymen who will take care of minor fixes around the home.

"They're going to put a closet door on," Linda said. "They'll do all the trim and repaint."

But, preparing a property for sale often goes beyond superficial fixes. The Truth in Sale of Housing, or TISH, report is a safety inspection required by several cities around the metro. The seller must bring in a certified inspector to find any safety risks inside the home. Those required repairs must be fixed within 90 days of sale.

Structure Tech's Reuben Saltzman is one of those certified TISH inspectors.

"The whole idea there is to improve the city's housing stock," Saltzman said. "It's a more communal benefit where the city has better homes and the people living in them are supposed to be buying better homes."

A TISH evaluation isn't as thorough as a buyer's inspection. An inspector looks at the home listing items as either a required fix or a recommended fix.

Minor repairs, items not up to code and unusual quirks typically are marked as a recommended fix.

"It's saying, this isn't quite right, but it's a repair item," Saltzman said.

On a TISH inspection, Saltzman is only looking for risks to life or health.

During an inspection at a home in Northeast Minneapolis, an old connection to the gas stove has the potential of leaking. He marked it down as a required fix because of the safety risk.

'They're going to want a permit to have this replaced, so that's one of the things we'll end up putting on the report," Saltzman said.

Not every fix he finds is complicated.

home inspections
(credit: CBS)

In fact, homeowners can easily take on the three most common required repairs before an inspector comes in making the TISH process easier on the seller.

Saltzman said he often sees homes without backflow preventers for faucets.  The $5 part can be found at any hardware store and prevents contamination to the city's water supply due to backflow.

"You don't want to get dinged for such an easy fix," Saltzman said.

Smoke alarms are another required fix that Saltzman often finds in homes. During the inspection of a Minneapolis home, he only found one working smoke detector in the three-bedroom apartment.

Sellers are required to have functioning and properly installed smoke alarms.

Saltzman also says a common problem is leaky plumbing, but it doesn't always require a significant fix or the help of a plumber. The homeowner can detect a leak by filling a sink, pulling out the stopper and looking for a leak.

At the Minneapolis inspection home, a leak under a sink could be fixed by tightening a joint around a pipe.

"Take care of all that stuff ahead of time," Saltzman said.  "It's so simple to figure that stuff out before we come through the house."

All these common fixes typically cost a few bucks, but left unchecked could be more costly during negotiation.

"If you can eliminate the problems up front, it makes the selling process easier," Lifestyles Realtor Jon Miskowiec said. "It could decrease the sale price of the house."

Most sellers take on the required fixes on a TISH report but, sometimes, the buyer assumes the responsibility.

Saltzman says one red flag warning is if you see a safety check for electrical work or on a heating appliance.

That could mean several thousand dollars in repairs.

Meanwhile, at the Demars home, the necessary inspections are in the months ahead, along with the hope of a quick sale.

"It would be great for a family coming in with children," Linda said.

For more tips on housing inspections go to Reuben's blog.

To see some of the more unusual finds during Reuben's home inspections, click here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.