Many news reports point to the sub prime lending mess as the cause for the housing slump. But home sellers should know that plenty of people with good credit are simply cautious buyers, which can keep sales down.

In most areas it’s a buyer’s market, so people can be picky. “Most buyers in this market will try to re-negotiate based on the findings of their home inspection. If the seller is unwilling to make repairs or lower the price, they may walk away because they knew other properties are available,” says Kathleen Kuhn, president and CEO of HouseMaster.

With approximately two million home inspections collectively performed by its franchise offices, HouseMaster is aware of a number of conditions that are more likely to scare buyers away.

But sellers do not have to stand by with their fingers crossed to secure a fair sale.

“More and more home sellers are getting a pre-listing home inspection that helps identify potential deal-breaking issues before the house is listed on the market,” Kuhn says. “This way, sellers can fix problems and worry less about a buyer walking away late in the deal process.”

According to Kuhn, the following are “The Fearsome Four” when it comes to real estate deals:

  • Roofing Concerns: A new homeowner does not want the expense of roof replacement shortly after closing. Many sellers believe that if their roof is not presently leaking it is in acceptable condition. But an astute buyer knows that a worn roof needs to be replaced before it leaks.
  • Electrical Problems: Older panels are often undersized and might even pose a fire hazard. Although an upgrade is usually straightforward, the potential fire risk can be scary for prospective buyers.
  • Structural Issues: Major structural issues are one of the least common defects found in homes, but when they do occur, they can be costly to repair, and can really stop a buyer in his tracks. Fortunately, there are often repair options that will make the sales process go smoother. But it will often require another inspection by a structural engineer or repair professional, and additional time, to determine what can be done.
  • Synthetic Stucco or Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS): Overall EIFS can be effective, economical alternatives to traditional stucco. Unfortunately improper installation can lead to trapped moisture behind the siding. This can cause structural damage and mold, and can cost tens of thousands of dollars to correct.

“Sellers lose some advantage when they are caught off guard by issues, even minor ones. In a market where every edge counts, sellers can use tools like pre-listing home inspections and repair records to show that they are conscientious and have taken appropriate steps to sell responsibly and competitively,” Kuhn says.

Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at www.housemaster.com. 

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This information is provided for general guidance purposes only. Neither DBR Franchising, LLC nor the local HouseMaster® franchise warrants its accuracy and assumes no liability related to its use. Contact the local franchise office and/or qualified specialists for advice pertinent to your specific house or circumstances. © Copyright 2008 DBR. Each HouseMaster franchise is an independently owned and operated business. HouseMaster is a registered trademark of DBR Franchising, LLC.