Home sellers should always be looking for ways to make their homes stand out from the pack. With so many potential buyers in today’s market, it can be difficult to do so. However, there are a few simple tips that every homeowner should know about before listing your property on the market.

Whether you are going the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route, Listing with a Discount/Flat Fee Broker, or utilizing the benefits of a Full-Service Real Estate Agent/Brokerage, there are things you can do to set your home apart and help to potentially spend less time on the market, get you a higher selling price, and (maybe best of all) reduce the headaches and negotiations from buyers.

BUT… it IS going to cost you a little bit of money up-front.

The #1 piece of advice I can give you is to have an inspection performed by a licensed/certified inspector BEFORE you talk to a Real Estate Agent and put a For Sale sign in your yard.

 I know, I know… “If I have a home inspection done, don’t I have to disclose all of those findings?”

The short answer is, Yes, you do. HOWEVER, any decent inspector worth a dime is going to find all those things when they do an inspection for the potential buyers and then you will have to deal with the buyers asking for repairs, a reduced sales price, or walking away completely, leaving you to start over with new buyers. By the way, unless specifically excluded, buyers have a right to the inspection in Texas – we wrote a blog about that.

No one wants any of those things, so I am going to tell you exactly what you need to do to minimize the chances of this happening… get a Pre-Listing Inspection! I am even going to go one step further and tell you exactly what you need to do to prepare your home for the inspection. Following these tips will nearly guarantee that your home will present amazingly to potential buyers, reduce your liability on the Seller’s Disclosure, effectively eliminate negotiations, and bring in an overall higher purchase price.

Let’s talk really quick about “The Big 3”. These are the things that will kill a deal, more than any other concerns, because they are expensive. They are the Foundation, Roof, and HVAC system. If you know that any of these are broken you will simply not get away from having to address them during the Buyer’s Inspection. They are a huge concern for buyers, and rightly so. They are not cheap! These simply can not be ignored.

For the foundation, hire a Structural Engineer to evaluate it and provide a letter stating the condition. Perhaps they will determine that it is “normal movement” and not a huge concern. This will go a long way to satisfying buyer concerns. If the engineer does determine that the foundation needs repair, you can take your time to find the best company to do the repairs rather than being rushed during the sales process.

As to the roof, if you are lucky you may be able to file an insurance claim for hail damage and it will only cost you your deductible. Of course this must be a legitimate claim, for obvious reasons. Here in the San Antonio-area, it very well could be, as we typically get hail storms every year and you usually have two years from the date of the event to file a claim.

Lastly, the HVAC system. The typical life-expectancy of an air conditioner in South Texas is around 8-10 years before repairs or replacement may be necessary. Unless it is a heat pump unit (which is basically just an air conditioner in reverse),  you can expect a little longer life out of the furnace since they do not get used nearly as often or have to work as hard as the A/C. Even if you do not think there is anything wrong with your system, it is solid advice to have a licensed HVAC company come out and do a tune-up to make sure it is in tiptop shape.

If you suspect that any of these 3 are failing, you might want to skip the Pre-Listing Inspection and just go ahead and address them now because the rest of this list will not matter much.

One more item that is in the mid-range of pricing, but regularly has concerns, is the water heater. Too often, these are installed incorrectly or with dissimilar metal fittings which causes corrosion and leaking at the joints. Check out your water heater and if you see anything out of the ordinary, call a licensed plumber and have them fix it.

Now, on to the smaller stuff that will help you out. Spend a day going through your home (or hire a handyman) and knock this list out. These are pretty much either surefire write-ups or make inspectors wonder, “What else is wrong or not taken care of?”.


  1. Replace burned out lightbulbs
  2. Check/repair caulking at all joints, especially around windows and in wet areas (Kitchen counter, bathrooms/showers/tubs)


  1. Trim overgrown branches and shrubs away from house and A/C
  2. Clean debris from roof and gutters
  3. Ensure proper outlet covers are in place and not broken
  4. Check insulation on larger A/C line. Replace, if needed
  5. Ensure hose bib handles are functional and anti-siphon valves are in place
  6. Ensure window screens are present and in good shape


  1. Ensure all windows function and there is no cracked glass or broken seals in double pane windows
  2. Ensure all doors latch, lock (if applicable), and hinges are not loose or screws missing
  3. Ensure all switch/outlet covers are present and not damaged
  4. Check for leaks under the sinks and that the toilet is secured to the floor properly


  1. Ensure smoke alarms are working properly (replace if more than 10 years old)
  2. Ensure CO detectors (if applicable) are working properly (replace if more than 7 years old)
  3. Check all Guardrails and Handrails. Tighten/secure if loose
  4. Are GFCI outlets installed and working, where required (see our blog about current requirements)?

This list is not all-inclusive but it should give you a good idea of things to look for and fix. Go through your home as if YOU were buying it and I bet you will find a few more things you will want to fix. Don’t forget that first impressions are the most lasting, so curb appeal is very important.

We would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about getting your home ready for sale or to do a Pre-Listing Inspection for you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us on our website –, by email at [email protected], or call us at 210-426-1332.


Shannon Gatewood is the owner of Gatewood Superior Inspections. Sometimes he rambles on trying to teach someone a thing or two.