The Home Inspection - Think Before You Ask

September 26, 2016

 

Most buyers know that during a home purchase they are generally entitled to a home inspection.  The inspection’s primary purpose is to inform the buyer of the condition of the home.  It’s not unusual for the inspector to note several things that the buyer should consider repairing or replacing.  Some items may need immediate attention others can wait.

 

Upon completion of the report the buyer and their agent will discuss what they’d like the seller to repair or replace.  Before approaching the seller you should ask yourself these 3 questions:

 

1. Was this item already disclosed on the Seller’s Disclosure?  If so, the seller is unlikely to agree to a repair/replace request.  When the seller discloses that something is in disrepair they are telling any and all prospective buyers that they have no intention of fixing or replacing that item and that the asking price of the home reflects the disrepair.

 

2. If you were in the seller’s shoes how would you repair/replace the item in question?  Don’t assume the seller will fix or replace the item to your satisfaction.  For example, if you discover that the bathroom faucet has a constant drip you could ask the seller to fix it.  Their fix might be to simply tighten a screw and it’s fixed (for now).  Or you might ask that the faucet be replaced.  If they agree, they could go to the local donation store or garage sale and look for a faucet similar to the one in the bathroom and use that.  Now you may be thinking that it has to be similar to what’s already there and maybe what they found is close so the requirement is met.  But what if you don’t like the existing faucet?  The seller is not likely to agree to replace it with a nicer one…unless you buy it….and if you buy it then what is the point of asking the seller to replace it?

 

3. If the seller refuses to repair or replace an item on your list is it a deal breaker?  There should be some logical rationale for the answer to this question.  Start with asking how much is the repair and replacement cost.  Also consider the time and expertise needed for the repair or replacement.  As in the previous example the cost is low and the time and expertise is small so a bathroom faucet should not be a deal breaker.  However, if there is a leaking septic system, the cost is high and the time and expertise is high.  In a case like this, if this was not disclosed as stated in item #1 and the price does not reflect this disrepair then this could be it is a deal breaker.  But, that’s a maybe.  There is still more to consider.  If the seller refuses to fix or replace the system are there concessions that the seller is willing to give to ease your burden?  The most common is a monetary concession at closing.  Also consider that this may be an opportunity for you to add value by installing a better system and having some of that cost offset by the seller’s monetary concession.  All options should be discussed with your real estate agent before making a final decision.

 

Do you see a pattern with the questions?  It’s the cost to repair or replace.  When a seller put’s their home on the market they want to spend as little as possible maintaining it.  Whatever the seller agrees to repair or replace on your inspection report will most likely be done for the lowest price possible, which may or may not be to your satisfaction.  That’s because, For the seller, the money spent on a repair or replacement at this stage is viewed as cutting into their profit.  The point here is Think Before You Ask.

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