By Steve Graham, Networx

Some home sellers dread inspections as a mysterious process that could kill a potential sale. Instead, sellers can use inspections to their advantage and prevent red flags. Moreover, inspections cover some of the same basic issues as appraisals, so a positive inspection can be a good predictor of a solid appraisal value.

Inspectors make a thorough visual survey of safety hazards or issues that would can decrease property values. They will not necessarily estimate the life expectancy of items. For liability reasons, they rarely test or inspect appliances. The day after an inspection, the refrigerator could break or a dishonest homeowner could switch out the appliance.

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors trains members to review the roof, attic and insulation; heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems; windows, doors and interior components; the foundation, basement and structure; and exterior.

Here are simple and inexpensive ways to prevent a failing grade on some of these tests. Most of these basic improvements will help make a house more livable, but they are often delayed or ignored.