Completing a home inspection is a critical step when buying and selling real estate. It helps the buyer understand the condition of the home being purchased. Most importantly, it points out defects, features, or issues that need repair or replacement.
Negotiating needed repairs — who makes the repairs, who pays for them — sounds like a surefire way to kill your real estate deal but it doesn’t have to. Your Clever Partner Agent, whether you are buying or selling, can help guide the way with expert negotiation skill and get you both to where you want to be — the closing table.
What a Home Inspector Looks for
The home inspector’s job is to examine features and components of the home and report on their condition. The inspector will evaluate the condition of the following:
- Windows and doors
- Electrical systems
- Heating and air conditioning
Defects and Issues a Home Inspector Might Find
Depending on the age, construction, and prior maintenance of the home, defects and issues needing repair or replacement will vary. The inspector might find:
- Outlets that need ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection
- Damaged roof shingles or the need to install additional gutters and downspouts
- Cracks in the foundation
- Damaged siding
- Water damage to wood or tile systems
- Exposed, abandoned, or disconnected wiring
- Spaces like attics that require insulation or ventilation
Depending on the age and location of the home and likelihood for environmental hazards or wood destroying pests, additional inspections may be required.
Prioritizing Needed Repairs and Researching Costs
While a home inspection report will identify what needs to be fixed, it’s up to buyers to prioritize the repairs that are important to them and research the costs for completing them. Your real estate agent can help you make sense of the home inspection report and connect you to trusted contractors so that you can gather estimates.
Repair issues that are structural or require a specialist or expert and permits are the most expensive and time consuming to undertake. Those issues include repairing:
Time Is of the Essence
Most purchase agreements allow for a specific number of days for the buyer to complete necessary home inspections and submit repair requests to the seller so time is of the essence in gathering repair estimates.
Negotiating Repair Requests If You Are the Buyer
When you’re ready to submit your list of required repairs to the seller, your buyer’s agent will advise you on the best strategy and possible outcomes. Remember that your Clever Partner Agent is a skilled negotiator.
Any information they gathered about the seller — the number of repairs the seller recently completed to get the home for sale, the seller’s need for a quick close, the seller’s plan for moving — can be extremely helpful.
Negotiating needed repairs is an opportunity for you to compel the seller to do either or both of the following:
- Complete the repairs as a condition of the sale and purchase of the home
- Offer a price reduction to enable you to complete the repairs
What Happens If Sellers Don’t Agree to Needed Repairs?
Sellers may choose not to do any repairs, leaving it up to you to proceed with the deal as is or terminate the contract. Are you able to get out of the contract if the home inspection revealed more defects that you’re willing or able to take on? Yes, because the purchase agreement should be contingent on you accepting the condition of the property being purchased.
Compromise Is Key
In most real estate transactions, negotiating required repairs is a back-and-forth exercise of compromise.
If this is your dream home, your buyer’s agent will share your appreciation for the home with the listing agent, the repairs you would be willing to take on, and the repair concessions that are required to reach closing day. If you have five repairs you absolutely need for the deal to close, your realtor might request 8 to 10 repairs so that the seller has an opportunity to refuse some of them.
If sellers are agreeable to repairs, they are more likely to offer a price reduction as there is a degree of risk in completing repairs that are satisfactory to the buyer.
Negotiating Repair Requests If You Are the Seller
For sellers, negotiating needed repairs is the hurdle to clear so that the sale of your house moves from contingent to pending. Your willingness to take on repairs or offer a price concession will depend on:
- Whether it is a seller’s or buyer’s market
- The number, complexity, and cost of needed repairs
- The strength of your buyer’s offer
- Whether or not you have backup offers
- How many repairs you already made in getting the home for sale
- How much equity you have in the home
- How much you need to net from the sale proceeds
- How motivated you are in selling the home and moving on
Your real estate agent will help you understand if the buyer’s list of needed repairs is reasonable for the market and home. He or she will also advise on the best strategy for negotiating repairs with the buyer.
Cooperation in Pursuit of a Common Goal
Most negotiations are successful when both parties demonstrate cooperation in pursuit of a common goal. Sellers can demonstrate their cooperation in several ways. Let’s say that the buyer has requested repairs that will cost $1,500, and you are extremely motivated to complete this deal. You could let the buyer choose one of the following:
- $1,500 purchase price reduction
- $1,500 closing cost assistance
- $1,250 purchase price reduction plus $250 value in furniture the buyer may have expressed interest in
In this way, the buyer feels comfortable with the concession you offered. After all, the buyer chose it.
Whether your a buyer or a seller, you need to be willing to negotiate to get closer to the best day of all—closing day. A Clever Partner Agent will work with your best interests in mind to make sure everyone walks away happy.