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Neighborhood Expert: Ask the expert — a conversation with Enlighten Home Inspections

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or

A hot topic in every real estate sale is the home inspection process. In recent years, sometimes that inspection never happened, or it happened after a home was purchased. If you were lucky, you had the chance to do a pre-inspection before making an offer.

Many of my clients use the team at Enlighten Home Inspections — a team of 6 licensed inspectors. I had a conversation with owner Isaac Kieffer about a residential home inspection and some of his thoughts and advice. The company has been serving clients in the DC, MD and VA region for 10 years.

Here’s what came out of that:

Q: What are the top 3 concerns that come up during an inspection?

A: In my opinion, the three of the biggest concerns during a home inspection are water, water, water. Water is the enemy of the house, and knowing how to manage the water on your property can be the best way to protect the future of your property. Other major areas of concern that home inspectors can help discover are health and safety concerns as well as costly defects of various varieties.

Q: What is something you wish buyers knew about inspections?

A: Home inspectors are on your team. A good home inspector will be able to make a buyer more knowledgeable of the condition of the property that they are considering buying. Inspectors will go into areas of the homes that buyers may not think to explore or do not feel comfortable to go themselves (i.e. attics and crawl spaces). Inspectors give insight into budgeting timelines for future replacement of major appliances and systems, which equips a prospective buyer with a game plan on how to maintain their investment as well as give them peace of mind in understanding more fully what they are purchasing.

Q: What is the most common thing you see with new home inspections? Why should a buyer do a pre-drywall inspection in addition to the final?

A: I often feel that a home inspector is the final punch list. I have yet to perform an inspection, new or old, where I did not have a report with 50+ defects. It is much easier to ask the builder to fix the issues, while they have crews contracted for the work and still own the property, than when the owner takes possession of the property.

Inspections during the pre-drywall phase of construction are a good idea because this is the best chance for an inspector to see the structure. Many of the defects that we find during a pre-drywall inspection ultimately end up being covered by drywall or siding, so these defects can go unnoticed until there is a major issue and the house no longer has a builder warranty.

Q: What items do you see come up that make buyers most panicked?

A: Major structural issues tend to give buyers the most pause. Everything is fixable but the cost and time required to make structural repairs can make buyers think twice about purchasing a property. Roof leaks are another issue that can give purchasers pause especially when there is limited ability to negotiate. Buying a house is a huge investment, and major expenses out of the gates are often overwhelming so having a better understanding of these areas often can help to reduce some of the anxiety of purchasing a house.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for homeowners thinking of selling their home soon?

A: Take care of the little maintenance issues that you are aware of. If you know a good handy person, they can fix most issues. If these nuisances are not fixed ahead of time and you have to negotiate against a home inspection, typically a licensed professional is required for the repairs, and the cost can become much more exorbitant.

Declutter and present the house in a way that will set you up for success. Realtors are a great source of knowledge, so do not hesitate to ask them what other sellers on the market are doing to sell their house quickly.

Lastly, make sure you have nice clear paths for the home inspector to access all major appliances!

If you’re looking for an annual checklist of items to help tune up your home, please email me. I give clients a checklist to help them and I’m happy to share it!

You can follow the adventures of these home inspectors on Instagram at @enlightenhomeinspections.

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