How to Counter Offer After a Home Inspection: Buyers' Options

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By Clever Real Estate Updated March 9, 2023


If you’re looking to make a counter offer after a home inspection, you could save a lot of money. However, you could also back yourself into a corner with faulty repairs. With the help of an experienced local agent, follow our guide for smart counter offers.

How to Counter Offer After a Home Inspection: Buyers' Options

Unlike taking a math quiz or getting your car inspected, a home doesn’t "fail" an inspection in a black and white way. Home inspectors work to help prospective buyers look for any problems invisible to the naked eye or to see common problems that arise when a home is in disrepair. When walking through an inspection with an experienced local real estate agent, buyers can build a case to negotiate a lower price on their home.

With the help of an agent who can negotiate on your behalf, buyers are able to avoid taking on risks by giving a counter offer after a home inspection. Take the advice of your agent and consider these issues before you make a counter offer.

Get Repair Credit, Not Repairs

Remember that the person who is selling the home you’re buying is on their way out. If you ask them for anything, they have no real incentive to do their best job. When you ask for repairs, you’re going to be the one who is going to have to live with the results, not them.

When a seller is packing up their home, they have little regard for your desire for a home that has repairs to last for several more years.

Taking credit is a better idea than asking for repairs to be done. They have no incentive to be conscientious, so you’d be better off handling the repairs on your own. Also when you get credit, you don’t have to go back and check the repairs, risking far less drama and very little back and forth between you and the seller.

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Decide If It’s Worth It

While cosmetic issues can be a real turnoff when you’re buying a house, you need to take a step back and think about the big picture. If you really love the bathroom the way it is, it might be easy enough to patch and paint issues on your own. If you’re thinking about renovating and tearing out a wall anyway, why hassle the seller or yourself with a conversation about repairs.

When you’re putting together a counter offer, think about what’s a high priority and what’s not. If you have a laundry list of issues, they might wonder why you’re interested in the property to begin with. Repairs are up for negotiation so asking for credit can help to offset some of the costs that you’ll face later on.

Build-in Closing Costs

When buying a home, the down payment and the mortgage aren’t the only costs that you have to worry about. Aside from your own interests in renovating the home, consider the cost of transfer taxes, escrow fees, title search, and whatever else your state requires.

If the seller doesn’t have a lot of savings or cash on hand, having them cover repairs is a losing proposition. However, the closing costs and fees can come off the top of the sale price. This is a win for you and for them, as it keeps them from having to take money out of their pocket now.

Negotiate carefully, as the repairs could cost much more than closing costs, which usually run a few thousand dollars or 3% of the final sale price of the home. If you anticipate tens of thousands of dollars in repairs, this isn’t the best deal.

Consider the Age of the Home

While some issues come with neglect, some issues that come up with an inspection are due to wear and tear. Your inspector can usually tell you why the issue might have arisen. It’s best to walk through the house with the inspector so you can get as much specific information as possible.

Asking for a seller to help with a foundation that is damaged due to bad drainage issues is one thing. Having them help re-shingle a roof that’s more than 10 years old is another.

A home that’s just a few years old and had just one owner might make it clear that issues are the fault of the owner. It’s much easier to make the case for repairs when this is the situation. When they’re willing to take ownership, it’s easier for everyone.

Don’t Share Your Plans

Most listing agents will walk through the inspection with you and your agent. The inspector will point out issues and if you react, it could signal something to the buyer’s own agent. If you’re comfortable with an issue or you’re looking to "just renovate that room anyway" that will come back to hurt you when negotiations kick-off.

If you seem unhappy with the inspection, they’ll let the seller know. This can be a good way to signal that you’re looking to negotiate or that if they intend to sell to you, they’re going to have to play ball.

Get Your Agent to Help Counter Offer After a Home Inspection

When giving a counter offer after a home inspection, it’s smart to follow the advice of an experienced local agent. They’ll keep you from low-balling the seller in a competitive market while also ensuring you don’t overpay for your home. Working with a Clever Partner Agent not only allows buyers to negotiate but also helps qualified buyers to get Clever Cash Back to offset closing costs.

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