Your offer has been negotiated and you finally reached an agreement. You can relax now, right? Not yet, requesting repairs after a home inspections can lead to more tough negotiations.
What items from a home inspection should you ask a seller to fix?
Reasonable repair requests should be left to non-cosmetic, significant issues that affect the value or livability of the home. For example:
- Foundation problems
- Issues with mold
- Water damage
- Pest damage
A home inspection — specifically the repair request — is often the most challenging negotiation in the home buying or selling process. Better understanding of the due diligence guidelines and home inspection process will benefit you.
This article guides you through the home inspection and repair request process. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of an inspector’s job and the appropriate repairs to request.
- The due diligence process
- Understanding home inspections
- Requesting repairs from the seller
- Strategies and tips for buyers and sellers
The Due Diligence process
Once an offer has been accepted, the due diligence contingency begins. During the due diligence period, buyers have the opportunity to vet a home thoroughly.
The typical time for a due diligence period is the first 8 to 12 calendar days. Day one starts the day after offer acceptance.
During the due diligence period, a buyer can cancel for any reason and receive their earnest money deposit back.
Besides hiring a licensed home inspector, the due diligence period is an opportunity for the buyer to ensure the surrounding area is to their satisfaction. This could include flood zones, airport noise, noxious fumes or odors, environmental substances or hazards, proper zoning, and if the home is close to a freeway or railroad. Buyers can choose to do a pool/spa inspection, soil inspection, septic pump & well (if applicable), termite & pest, roof, or an energy audit.
All buyers should use the due diligence period to hire a licensed home inspector to perform a non-invasive and non-destructive physical inspection of the home. During the home inspection, the inspector looks for any mechanical or structural issues that may impact the home’s usability or suitability.
The inspector then prepares a detailed report for the buyer’s review. Details of all features inspected will be noted with any issues highlighted.
Based on this report, if there aren’t significant damages that immediately persuade a buyer not to buy, like black mold, they can request the seller to make repairs or offer a credit at closing.
Understanding home inspections
A home inspection is an essential part of the home buying process. It protects the buyer against purchasing a home with severe defects.
What a home inspection is not is an opportunity to have cosmetic problems repaired.
A home inspection is one of the few out-of-pocket expenses you pay when buying a home. A home inspector typically costs between $350 to $750, depending on the size of the property. An inspection can take two to three hours.
Buyers should take the opportunity to meet with the inspector at the end to discuss and see firsthand issues the inspector finds concerning.
Home inspectors are also very knowledgeable about the inner workings of a home. They can show you where items are, like the main water valve shut-off, and answer any mechanical or structural questions.
Who are home inspectors?
Home inspectors are licensed by the real estate division in each state.
To receive a Nevada home inspection license, each applicant must complete the following:
- 40-hours of classroom education in structural inspections.
- Pass the 90-question Nevada structural inspection exam with a 75% or higher.
- Complete 25 inspections with an existing licensed inspector.
What issues do home inspectors look for?
Licensed inspectors perform a non-invasive and non-destructive physical inspection of the home. Inspectors look throughout the interior and exterior of a home to find mechanical or structural problems that may impact the home’s usability or suitability.
Some items inspectors will examine outside of the home include:
- Roof issues, including missing or broken tiles
- Drainage blocks
- Irrigation and sprinkler systems
- Foundation cracks
- Settling issues
- Evidence of pest or insect problems
- Moisture intrusion
- And safety and health hazards
During the interior inspection, you can expect the inspector to check:
- Structural items: Trim, foundation, and slab
- Inside the Attic: Ventilation, insulation, and framing
- Garage: Garage door, garage door opener, and fire separation
- Laundry: Washer/dryer, washer/dryer connections, and sinks
- Plumbing systems: Water main, supply, waste, vent piping, gas system, and water heater
- Heating/cooling: A/C and heat systems, ducting, filters, and thermostats
- Electrical system: Electrical panels, wiring, outlets, and switches
- Interior: Floors, walls, ceiling, overhead fans, and doors
- Kitchen: Sinks, cabinets, and appliances
- Bathrooms: Sinks, faucets, tubs, jetted tubs, showers, toilets, cabinets, and vents
Inspectors will note items they believe you should keep an eye on, like maintenance, upkeep, or an aging appliance. They also point out some cosmetic issues like chipped stucco or tiles.
Once completed, the Inspector will prepare a detailed report to be reviewed by the buyer. Most inspectors can finish the home inspection report within 24 hours. The report will explain all inspected features and highlight serious concerns the inspector found.
As mentioned earlier, buyers should meet with or discuss the findings with the inspector after the inspection.
Inspectors stick to facts and note every detail without much context. Generally, the 20+ page inspection report will be far scarier than your actual conversation with the inspector.
What if I’m buying “as-is”?
If you’re buying or selling a home “as-is, ” an inspection should still be completed. While, as a buyer, you have agreed to accept the house in its current condition, you are not obligated to complete the purchase to your detriment.
Significant structural or mechanical issues may exist that could render the home unlivable, reduce the home’s value, or cost you a fortune down the road.
Don’t mistake new construction for perfect condition.
If you’re buying a newly constructed home from a builder, you should still hire a home inspector.
There are many different trades involved in a new construction home. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and roofers work quickly to build houses.
Mistakes happen and, if caught before closing, will be repaired quickly. Plus, seeing it now may prevent a much larger problem down the road that the builder warranty won’t cover.
Requesting repairs from the seller
You’ve received your inspection report, met with the inspector at the property, and have issues you want to be fixed before the close of escrow.
Does the seller have to make the repairs?
Sellers have no responsibility to accept or complete repairs.
Buyers also have no responsibility to continue with the purchase of the home if they find unsatisfactory problems the seller will not rectify.
As a buyer, you need to be reasonable with your requests. As a seller, you should do your due diligence, hiring licensed professionals to inspect, before agreeing to terms.
For this reason, buyers need to schedule the inspection as soon as possible in the process so the seller has adequate time for a third-party opinion.
The negotiations for repairs must be completed within your due diligence period. If the time runs out, you’ve lost your ability to cancel the purchase agreement under the due diligence contingency.
Request For Repairs Form.
The request for repair form will either begin your negotiation or, if there are no serious issues, let the seller know you’re satisfied with the home’s condition and are removing your home inspection contingency.
Many buyers, and agents, don’t know that the Residential Purchase Agreement, signed and agreed upon by both parties, clearly states what a buyer may or may not request for repairs.
Items of a general maintenance or cosmetic nature which do not materially affect value or use of the Property, which existed at the time of Acceptance and which are not expressly addressed in this Agreement are deemed accepted by the Buyer, except as otherwise provided in this Agreement.
This means, when requesting repairs, focus on mechanical and structural issues that materially affect the value or use of the property. Cosmetic issues should have been considered in the original offer price.
Seller’s may agree to correct all conditions listed, decline the buyer’s request for repairs, or offer to repair or take other specified corrective actions.
Other corrective actions could be declining some items but agreeing to others. In lieu of repairs, a seller could offer, and a buyer may request, a credit at closing.
That credit will reflect on the closing statement and will be used to offset against the down payment or closing costs.
If the seller agreed to repair the items you requested, the final walk through is used to verify the repairs were properly completed. For complicated items, like roofing, you may hire the inspector, or a qualified contractor, to join you on the final walk through.
Strategies and tips for sellers and buyers.
You’ve chosen your Realtor because you trust them. It’s essential to listen to their advice during the repair request negotiation.
Don’t compromise your money or safety out of fear of losing a deal.
Tips for buyers
Plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling systems (HVAC) should be a top priority if the home is structurally sound.
When your inspector has concerns about these items, you should request the seller to inspect and repair them.
If the seller offers a credit instead, hire a licensed contractor to inspect first. What seems to be a minor issue may snowball into a significant problem when it comes to HVAC, plumbing, and electrical.
The credit you were offered may not cover a fraction of the actual repairs.
When negotiating, you are detracting from what is truly important by adding cosmetic or minor issues. Focus on serious problems only.
As a last note, always ask for all documentation regarding any repairs, inspections, or diagnoses from the contractors in your repair request.
You’ll have the company’s information if you need to contact them after closing, and you know the work was done by a professional.
Tips for sellers
If your budget can afford it, a credit at closing is well worth it versus dealing with repairs and contractors. Consider starting your negotiation with a repair credit.
If the buyer asks for the HVAC system to be inspected, it may benefit you, the seller, to hire and pay for a diagnostic.
In Las Vegas, many homes built in the housing boom of the early 2000s have reached the age of HVAC systems needing replacement. HVAC companies take advantage of this and are often quick to tell buyers an entire system needs to be replaced, only for it to be a minor problem.
Our homes are a reflection of us. Many sellers get angry and offended when they see an inspection report. Please don’t take it personally.
Inspectors actively seek things we never see or think about. It’s very common.
Detach yourself from the house the moment you decide to sell. This is now a business transaction.
Think of a home inspection as an insurance policy. You’re spending a few hundred dollars to assure yourself there are no significant issues with the home you’re buying.
When hiring a home inspector and requesting repairs after home inspections, your outcomes are either peace of mind or money saved and disaster averted. That’s money well spent.
Buyers, don’t ask for unnecessary items, primarily when cosmetic. A cracked outlet cover is less than one dollar at Home Depot.
Sellers, if you refuse to address serious issues with your home and the buyer cancels, the next inspector will find the same problem.
Plus, by law, sellers have to update the Sellers Real Property Disclosure to note the defects or mechanical issues they have been made aware of.
So, work together, be reasonable, and be happy.