You've received an offer on your home and you're thrilled at the prospect of getting the deal done. But first you need to make it through the next hurdle: the home inspection. In most real estate contracts, a home inspection contingency is in place, allowing the buyer a chance to back out should significant mechanical or structural issues come to light during the inspection.

While you may think your home will pass with flying colors, it's at this stage that many deals fall through. With so much at stake, it makes sense that sellers would want to do as much as they can in advance to get their home in the best possible shape before this top-to-bottom review. By addressing any problems, sellers can assure buyers that the property is in move-in condition and save themselves a lot of negotiating and repair work down the road.

The following are areas where unpleasant surprises often arise and, ultimately, either kill the sale or cost the seller a bundle.

 Water damage

Just because water isn't cascading down from the ceiling, that doesn't mean a home inspector won't notice if you've had a leak that's caused water damage. Stains on ceilings are often a tell-tale sign of previous problems. While your issue may have been something relatively harmless, like an overflowing toilet, buyers will suspect the worst if they notice signs of trouble. If you have a leak, fix it. Then, remove any reminders of the problem by covering stains with a fresh coat of paint. If you're dealing with ceiling tiles, water and bleach can go a long way to restoring them to their once-clean appearance.

Moisture and mold

Unfortunately, mold typically follows a leak. And nothing scares away buyers quite like that funky fungus. So be sure your home is mold-free by checking every nook and cranny. For example, are your bathrooms vented properly? In some homes, those helpful ceiling fans are actually sending moist air straight to the attic, causing mold to grow.

If your basement is often damp, be sure to run a dehumidifier and check for mold there as well. Should you discover mold in any location, it's best to contact a professional who can perform removal and remediation before the inspection. Plus, you'll feel better -- both mentally and physically -- once it's gone.

Electrical issues

Any homeowner who's tried to take a few shortcuts by not hiring an electrician should make sure the work they've done is up to code prior to the inspection as electrical violations are both common and easy to spot. Faulty wiring is a fire hazard so the sooner you address it, the safer for everyone.

 The roof

As most homeowners know, replacing a roof is not cheap. So it makes sense that home inspectors are going to take this section of the inspection very seriously. If you know your home could benefit from a roof replacement, consider taking care of it before putting your place on the market. Even if you believe the roof has a few good years left in it, hearing that it's nearing the end of its life is enough to send buyers running.

 Heating and cooling systems

Regardless of the season, a home inspector is going to want to see that heating and cooling systems are functioning efficiently. Consider the age of your HVAC system. Have they been well-maintained over time? Now is the time to change the air filter and make sure the coil is clean.

 Plumbing 

From leaky faucets and loose toilets to lead in the pipes and low water pressure, plumbing problems can cause your deal to go down the drain. If you're aware of a problem but put off calling the plumber, now's the time to take care of it.

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