You have prepared your house for the market as best as you can, priced it accordingly and have your property under agreement. Now you are nervously waiting the home inspections results. The buyers have a long list of repair requests. You are wondering what to do when your buyer requests home inspections repairs.
Prevent Buyers From Requesting Repairs After A Home Inspection
The best defense is a good offense.
When your preparing your home for the market go through your home with a fine tooth comb and just take care of a lot of the nuisance repairs that you are aware of. Minor plumbing leaks, peeling paint, any electrical issues, etc… can be taken care of prior to listing your home.
Consider having a pre-listing inspection. A pre-listing inspection will help pull together punch list items to prepare your home for the market and give you an overview of what a buyer’s home inspector will be looking for during an inspection. If you have taken care of a lot of the issues it can become a marketing tool as well.
You can provide the pre-listing inspection and call out all the little items that were fixed. And, if not fixed at least a home buyer is aware of the issues as well and should make their offer being aware of the issues.
Filling out your Sellers Statement of Property Condition in detail will also prevent issues from a home inspection. While Massachusetts is a “Buyer Beware” state and does not require a seller to disclose anything unless asked, a home buyer who is fully informed about your home should take any defects into effect up front prior to an offer.
It is very hard for a home buyer to ask for a repair after a home inspection if the issue was known to them prior to putting in an offer. It is important to have the disclosure in the buyer’s hand before they submit an offer.
Three Options When Your Buyer Requests Home Inspection Repairs
Reject Any Counter Offers of Inspection Repairs
Of course as a seller it is well with-in your right to deny any repair requests. Especially if they are unreasonable. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish though. It is probably not prudent to kill a deal over a few hundred dollars worth of repairs.
While you do not want a home buyer to take advantage of a situation, there is always some hesitation from buyers with a house that has come back on the market due to home inspection issues.
Remember as a seller if you are asked of previous home inspections and to describe the issues you do have to answer the request truthfully. If there are truly serious issues that should be taken care of, most likely these same issues will continue to rear their ugly head with each new buyer.
Often a home buyer will ask for specific repairs to be performed by the home seller by closing. You can certainly negotiate what repairs you are willing or not willing to do. While doing the repairs can be burdensome on a home seller who is also trying to pack up and move, I find this more cost-effective than negotiating a price reduction for repairs.
Often a buyer will way over estimate the cost of a repair when a home seller can have the repair work done for much less than the buyer is requesting.
A buyer’s head is usually spinning after a home inspection with a long list of punch list items. They are like Chicken Little running around screaming the sky is falling. When in reality many of the issues are minor and can be rectified quite simply.
Negotiate A Price Reduction
If trying to pull together home repairs prior to closing seems like a daunting task consider paying all or some of the buyers closing costs or a price reduction to compensate for the future repairs that a home buyer will have to do.
The plus of a price reduction is it does eliminate the stress of getting the repairs done yourself. The downside is it can be tougher to come to terms on the price. A buyer will always way over estimate the cost of repairs.
Are My Buyer’s Asking For Unreasonable Repairs?
So what repairs should a home seller consider doing?
When your home buyer requests home inspection repairs take the time to review carefully. Do not immediately become defensive and think they are making unreasonable repair requests. Maybe they are maybe they aren’t but don’t let emotions overtake you without carefully consider what requests your home buyer is making after the home inspection
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the buyer is asking for after their home inspection. They should provide evidence of the issue by providing the particular section of the home inspection report spelling out the issue.
Now this is where you really have to pay attention to what is reasonable for your price range and the type of market you are in and even where you are located in the country.
Obviously the expectation of the condition of a house selling for $220,000 will be very different than one selling for $500,000 in the same community. This is where your real estate agent really can counsel you.
Review with your listing agent what inspection requests are reasonable and you might consider doing (if any) and what requests are unreasonable.
Unless otherwise stated by the seller a buyer expects (and reasonably so) a home to be relatively safe, healthy and functioning properly at the time of the sale.
So what does that mean?
Often times serious issues may arise a seller is not aware of at all. A seller can live for years with excessive amounts of mold in their attic or high levels of radon in the home and not even know it. Both of these do pose a health risk to potential occupants and in most cases, I would recommend a seller resolve the issues.
An electric panel that has had water penetration and corrosion is a fire hazard and should be rectified by an electrician and a home seller should probably consider the repair or a credit back at closing. A home buyer has put in an offer expecting the panel to function properly and safely.
A furnace that is functioning properly but is past its useful life is another story. As far as I am concerned you are delivering a home with a functioning furnace. The current furnace could die next month or last another 10 years but it is functioning properly at this current time.
Now if the furnace has a cracked heat exchanger that again is a safety issue.
An outside outlet that is not GFCI or insulation in the attic that is not to code are not what I would call serious issues and should be reviewed on a case by case basis. At some point the buyer needs to realize that they are buying a used house. Not everything will be to current building codes and there are some dings and dents.
Do Your Due Diligence
You have a list of items you might consider either compensating a buyer for or are willing to repair. Do your due diligence and call some contractors that are appropriate for the job.
It is much easier to negotiate from a position of knowledge than one of uncertainty.
For example, I recently had a buyer who wanted $2000.00 off for a pest treatment for mice. The buyer was supposedly quoted that price by a pest company. I jumped on the phone, called a few pest companies I knew. I received a quote under $400 with a 6 month guarantee. There is a huge difference there.
Remember a home inspector knows a little about a lot of things but is an expert in none.
Often times a question of concern from a home inspection can be made to go away by a quick, inexpensive appointment with the appropriate specialist. If a licensed electrician, plumber or other professional put their stamp of approval on something being in proper working order it is very difficult for a home buyer to dispute that.
Negotiating Home Inspection Repairs
If your home buyer is being unreasonable with their home inspection repair request, present what you are willing to do and not do when it comes to repairs or price adjustments. Definitely keep emotion out of the negotiations.
Many buyers will come with a long list hoping to negotiate somewhere in the middle. Get the negotiations started. If the buyer is asking for a lot and your not willing to do much, give a little see what happens. I have closed the gap many times on situations that seem impossible between a buyer and seller as a listing agent.
As real estate agents we spend part of every day negotiating and your listing agent can be invaluable. If you and your agent have done your homework about the market costs of repairs and have a good understanding of how your house compares condition wise to other houses in it’s price range, calmly present your case to the buyer and know whey you are just willing to walk away and move on to another buyer.
More often than not terms can be agreed upon that both parties can live with.
What To Do If Your Buyers Are Asking For Unreasonable Repairs
You can’t stop your buyers from asking for unreasonable repairs. It happens.
Remain calm and talk with your agent about what repairs you should or shouldn’t do based on the current real estate market conditions and your home’s competition.
If your buyer is truly unreasonable with their repair requests be prepared to shut down negotiations and walk away.
Final Thoughts On Your Buyers Request For Home Inspection Repairs
Obviously there is no right or wrong way to handle your home buyers request for home inspection repairs.
Taking the time upfront and considering a pre-listing inspection and a preparing a detailed sellers disclosure can prevent a lot of nuisance requests from surfacing int the first place.
There are pros and cons to handling it each way and one may be better for you than another. Look to your agent to see what is a reasonable request and what is not based on the price bracket your home falls in and the current market conditions.
Everything is negotiable. Just because a buyer asks that doesn’t mean that they will walk away if you do not give them everything they want. If you are reasonable in what you are prepared to do hopefully the buyer will reciprocate in kind.
Do your due diligence and don’t become defensive. A few small repairs for a few hundred bucks can be a lot easier than killing the deal and putting your home back on the market after wasting valuable time under agreement. Remember a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!!
At the end of the day, consider is it worth walking away over a few hundred or maybe thousands of dollars and try to capture the interest of another buyer?
Other Home Inspection Resources:
- Joe Manuasa 5 Tips for Sellers Regarding Home Inspections
- Anita Clark Should a Seller Get A Home Inspection Before Listing Their Home
- Paul Sian Top 8 Home Inspection Issues
- Bankrate Who Repairs? Buyer or Seller?