Congratulations, you’ve found the house you want to buy and had your home inspection. Chances are, there were a few issues that came up during the home inspection, and now you need to figure out what to do. So, what are the best ways to handle this? As a home inspector, I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count, and unfortunately, I can’t answer that question for you. I can give you some advice on how to go about the negotiations.
- Take a deep breath and relax. Sit down and read the inspection report cover-to-cover a couple of times. Print it out and make notes of the issues. Some inspectors provide a summary of the issues they think are important, but there could be other things in the report that are not in the summary, so don’t just rely on that.
- Call or email your inspector with any questions you have. Make sure you understand the issue and its potential effects.
- Take a piece of paper and make three lists. The first list is the items that absolutely have to be addressed, or you won’t buy the house. These are the major issues that are show stoppers. The second list is the items that you would like to have repaired, but you are open to negotiation on. The third list is the stuff that you will take care of on your own. (Make sure you actually do take care of them though!) At the end of this exercise, you should have every issue noted in the report listed. Double-check to make sure something wasn’t left out.
- Work with your real estate agent to build a repair request addendum. This is the list of repairs you are asking the sellers to do. Be very specific on what you want to be done. For example, make sure you specify that the repairs are completed by a licensed tradesman. For electrical repairs, request that they be done by an electrician. Also, request a receipt and any warranties provided be provided to you after the work is done. Some sellers may want to do the repairs themselves, but this is not the dime for DIY projects. Most of the time, that’s what got them to this point, to begin with. Note: we have a great online system for your agent to build the repair request straight from your inspection report. This way, the seller will have the exact issue presented to them, so there’s no confusion about what you want to be done.
- Negotiate the repair list. It’s rare that a seller will want to complete every item on your list (hence why we built three lists in the first place). The seller may also want to provide a credit towards repairs. If they do this, make sure it comes with an estimate for the repair. Call the contractor and make sure they will do the work for you at that price. If they don’t send an estimate, get one yourself.
- Once the repairs are complete, get your home inspector out there to do a reinspect. Yes, you will likely have to pay them to go out there again. I typically charge half of the original inspection fee. Some charge a set fee per item reinspected. I will note that in all of the reinspections I’ve done, not one has had all of the negotiated repairs completed. I’ve even had repairs where a receipt was provided where the repairs weren’t done. One of the worst examples was a seller that agreed to replace the Polybutylene plumbing, but then once she got the quote decided not to do it because it was too expensive ($15k). She took the estimate, stamped it “Paid” and sent that to the buyers. The reinspection went downhill from there.
- Once you’ve closed, take care of any repairs that were funded by the seller, and anything they didn’t agree to do. Remember, that stuff is still important to do. You may also want to look at having your home inspector out every year or so to do an annual property review.
Negotiating repairs can be one of the most stressful parts of a real estate transaction. You may be overwhelmed with the condition of the house that you thought was so perfect. The seller may be frustrated, or even insulted when they find out their asset isn’t as perfect (or valuable) as they thought it was. This is where your agent will really earn their commission, by helping you negotiate a fair agreement on the repairs the house needs. Remember to be reasonable, but also keep in mind what you decided you were willing to accept.
To get your home inspected by Veteran Home Inspections, call 210-202-1974 or click the book and inspection button above. We look forward to helping you with all your inspection needs.