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You know those pesky projects that you know need to get done but you never quite get around to? If you neglect them during the selling process, they may come back to bite you. When the inspector takes his flashlight around the dark corners and finds that water damage in the basement that you never had time to fix, it could come out in the contingencies. It's also frustrating for the seller who now has more work on their plate. Someone has to fix it: how do you tackle repair requests for home buyers and sellers?

Get An Inspection

If you as a buyer find several repairs that need to be made during your general walk through and still place an offer, it is a good idea to get an inspection on the house. While you could make the case to the seller to fix the damages you found, the seller really doesn't have a reason to comply unless compelled by an inspection.

The inspector will poke around and mark every repair that they can see causing issues. The more urgent fixes are the ones that will bear weight with the lender and the seller of the house. If there is a chimney that is about to fall, for example, that might be a deal breaker for the lender.

An inspector adds to your case by documenting all the repairs that need to be made. You want to point out the major issues and fix them, if possible.


Once the inspection is complete, the buyer's agent may make contingencies. Some of these contingencies don't come from the seller so much as they come from the lender. When the lender sees a house that needs some major work done, they won't allow the money

to be released for the sale. While you can counter with an alternative such as a partial fix, the lender may not approve it. It is best if the contingencies are fulfilled, otherwise, you have few options left.

Repair The Damage Yourself

If the lender mandates repairs but the seller refuses, the buyer can fix the damage themselves. Many real estate agents stay up until all hours of the night with their clients as they repair water damage or clean up truckloads of trash. It's best if these repairs don't take up much money, just manpower. If it takes too much money and the sale doesn't go through, the buyer is out that money and the seller does not have to pay it back. If you do decide to repair the damage yourself, make it your last resort.

Ask for A Credit

If the house needs repairs that aren't mandatory by the lender and the seller won't cover them, you can ask for a credit. A credit is money the bank can add to the loan, assuming the value is in the home. This is a good idea if you are purchasing the home with instant equity. Asking for a $5,000 to $10,000 credit will help you make those repairs such as new flooring and plumbing or electrical if that is an issue.

Keep in mind that if you ask for a credit, it goes on to the life of the loan. In most cases, it won't add more than a year's worth of payments to the loan, but it is still quite a chunk. Make sure you check your interest rate to see if it's a good idea to tack the money onto your loan or get it from other sources.

Be Reasonable

The Seller's Side

As a seller, hearing that more work needs to get done on the property might seem frustrating, especially when you are so close to closing on the sale. While you shouldn't jump at every request a buyer makes, be aware that turning down too many requests may result in the buyer looking for another home to purchase. If there is room in the budget and the bank withholds the buyer's loan until the fixes are complete, consider your next move carefully. If the market is good enough and you can find another buyer with a private lender, you may decide to let this deal collapse and move on to the next one. If you really just want to sell the home and the market is low on buyers, you may need to bite the bullet and tackle the repairs.

The Buyer's Side

If you want a home with virtually no repairs needed, buy a new construction home. If you are purchasing a pre-owned home, however, expect for there to be some repairs. Going into the buying process knowing you'll probably need to shell out some cash to get the home exactly how you want it will save you and your agent (as well as the seller and their agent!) a LOT of headaches. With that in mind, you should stick to the repairs that are definitely necessary before you move in. Some of these repairs include removing garbage, repairing windows, or stabilizing the chimney.

If you choose to buy a house via short sale, keep in mind that the sale is “as is.” This means that you will do all the repairs (if any) by yourself. It is especially important during these types of transactions to go in fully aware of the project you are undertaking. You don't want to sign the contract of a house thinking you can negotiate later. That's like marrying someone hoping you can fix them later-- it rarely works out in your favor.

Repairs can get pretty expensive, but top real estate service doesn't have to be. That's why we created Clever. Clever provides some of the best real estate agents in your area for a low flat rate price. Call us today at 1-833-2-CLEVER or fill out our online form to get started.


Andrew Schmeerbauch

Andrew Schmeerbauch is the Director of Marketing at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you top agents to save on commission. His focus is educating home buyers and sellers on navigating the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease. Andrew has worked on projects for the United Nations and USC and has a particular passion for investing and finance. Andrew's writing has been featured in Mashvisor, L&T, Ideal REI, and Rentometer.

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