By Julie Avellino, Realtor

Even the most honest and genuine home sellers often become nervous as their home inspection date approaches.  Most sellers take pride in their home and have done some work to it throughout the course of ownership. 

Many owners use reputable, licensed and insured trades people to work on their home. Some will work on their home themselves.  In either scenario it’s not uncommon for a home inspector to note some electrical issues in the home inspection report that is provided to a buyer at the completion of a thorough home inspection. 

It’s important to stay calm

Electrical issues noted can range from finding the antiquated (and widely considered dangerous) knob-and-tube wiring in a home to the more common and simple to fix, such as a missing GFCI outlet. 

Whatever is found home sellers often feel a range of emotions when electrical issues are brought up. One scenario has the seller being upset because they paid a licensed electrician to do work and now fault is being found with that work. Another scenario has the seller being afraid if the issues uncovered present an immediate danger to the occupants.  Still other issues can create a feeling of annoyance for the inspector or the buyer — maybe the seller knows that their 100 amp panel can handle the household electrical needs just fine but the inspector made a strong recommendation to make the costly upgrade to 200 amps and now the buyer is demanding that it be done. Nearly every sellers mind goes immediately to the thought, “What is this going to cost me to fix?”

Each of these scenarios can be handled similarly, with a brief pause and a collection of additional information most of the time electrical issues can be some of the easiest to work through in a transaction. 

Hire a local electrician to do a  thorough inspection

Home inspectors see hundreds of homes in many areas across a region throughout a year. Most of the time their recommendations are accurate or very close to accurate, but a home inspector does not have to be a licensed electrician. So, when an inspection report comes back noting electrical issues often the best thing to do is to have reputable, local, licensed, actively working electrician come to the home and review the issues in the report. Then the electrician can make a knowledgeable recommendation as to what needs to be repaired or brought up to code, what the costs will be and whether or not an immediate danger exists.  

Why do I call out “actively working?” Simple, you want to work with people who are up to speed on the latest methods, the latest code requirements in your area and who have recent recommendations and current pricing.  You also want to work with someone who has availability as well as the ability to become a trusted resource not just to you, the seller, but also to the future owner so that the home’s electrical updates and repairs can have consistency among one trusted provider. 

Remember you have options and everything is negotiable

If the electrician agrees that repairs are needed and that they are not immediate safety issues, the sellers and buyers can come to a mutual agreement as whether the seller will make the repairs before closing, the buyers will accept a credit at closing towards the repairs or if the repairs will not be covered by the sellers and will be absorbed by the buyer as a needed update to complete after closing. 

The electrician can also differentiate between needed work and “nice to have” work,  as in the example of the 100 amp panel vs the 200 amp panel.

On occasion a licensed electrician will find that the what the inspector noted was not in fact a necessary repair. In that case the electrician will state why the issue does not need rectifying and the seller’s agent will submit that to the buyer’s agent. In this case sometimes the buyers decide they want another electrician to do a 3rd review and issue one last opinion.  It’s often hard for buyers, who just paid hundreds of dollars to a home inspector, to accept that a finding in a report was incorrect but it does happen and the licensed expert in the field (in this case a licensed electrician) should have their professional opinion carry more weight than the inspection report. 

Recently while working with the sale of a property a home inspector noted an issue at the electrical panel. My clients, the sellers, brought in an electrician to review the findings. Not only did the electrician agree with the home inspector but he noted two other safety issues that needed to be repaired prior to closing the home that the inspector missed. 

Home inspectors provide a broad range of valuable information to home buyers and prospective buyers should use an inspector who comes highly recommended by their agent.  Agents know which inspectors do a thorough job, and for myself, I recommend inspectors based on how well they communicate with my clients, explain potential problems and educate them on how to care for the home after purchase. 

If you’re selling your home this year and electrical concerns are noted at the inspection take a deep breath and stay calm. Don’t take the findings in the report personally and don’t immediately panic and make assumption about the cost of needed repairs.  By taking a pragmatic approach and working with reputable professionals a rational solution can be negotiated that works for all parties and ensures the quality and safety of the home.  

Julie Avellino is residential broker in Connecticut who has been working with sellers and buyers since 2005. She specializes in managing the transactions and transitions of down-sizers, first time sellers and couples going through divorce.  Her clients recommend her for her attention detail, creative solutions, ability to communicate well with attorneys and other agents as well as genuine authenticity in supporting her clients as they work to achieve their housing goals. Her license is held by The Higgins Group in Fairfield, CT.  You can contact her at 203-414-9479 or MoveForwadwithJulie