Whether you are buying or selling a home, the inspection is a critical part of the process.

Of course, if you are buying the inspection tells you what you’re getting. Does the home have issues that make the purchase problematic? Will the seller take care of any problems before the sale, or will they adjust the price of the sale for you to  make the fixes after you won the home?

And, we have written here before about the importance of a pre-listing inspection if you are the seller. Among other things, a pre-listing inspection will alert you about issues with the home. That way you can either adjust the asking price or take care of some of the problems in advance.

So, while that explains why the inspection is important for both buyer and seller, there’s much more to understand in order for the inspection to be worthwhile.

Buyer or seller, there are several things to avoid in order to have a successful inspection.

The first, and possibly, most important thing, is to research your inspector. Presumedly, you researched the Realtor before starting this process. You want a certified, well-trained, experienced inspector. You want to know how many homes they have inspected and specifically if they have inspected homes comparable to yours. Get references and talk to the people they have worked with previously.

Buying or selling a home is a costly endeavor. Don’t cut corners. Especially with the home inspector. We’re not all the same. Cheapest is not always best. Saving money on the inspection could result in additional costs after the sale. Look for an inspector who is truly interested in informing you, not just making a list of things he or she found.  The lowest cost may be the inspector that helps you separate important findings from issues that are there but of lesser importance. So, look for someone that helps you understand, and if they are less expensive treat that as a bonus.

Read the inspection report. Glancing at the report and giving it to your Realtor is not the best idea. A good inspector will take the time to go through the report with you and will tell you what it will take to make repairs.

If you are selling and have done a pre-listing inspection, don’t ignore the repairs. Either make the repairs before you put the home on the market or be very open with potential buyers about improvements that will have to be made. It’s likely the buyer’s inspection will uncover the same needs.

Prepare your home for the inspection. Clean and uncluttered is always a plus. And if utility closets, basements or attics are usually locked, make sure they are open for the inspector. Don’t try to repair things yourself. If you are not qualified to make the repair, it’s likely the inspector will discover your faulty work.

Finally, do your best to attend the inspection in some way. Given the current circumstances, you may not be able to walk through and watch as the inspector does his or her work. But you may be able to work out something where you can be nearby and can discuss things on the spot.

Home inspections are one of the most critical aspects of any home sale. Done right, they can make the process a success. Done incorrectly, they can doom the sale.