Your home inspector will undoubtedly encounter defects when buying a preexisting home throughout the property evaluation. These defects are thoroughly detailed in a home inspection report. This process can be overwhelming for the layperson, especially if they are a first-time buyer.
Understanding the Condition of the Home
It is essential to review the defects, and the home condition noted in the inspection report. Attending the inspection and discussing these topics with the inspector can be extremely helpful in better understanding the state of the home. Having this understanding of the state of the house and its defects will help the buyer decide whether to request repairs from the seller. This depends on the severity of the issues and the systems they impact.
What to Look Out For?
Any health concerns or significant defects found in the structure or systems of the home are issues that should not be overlooked and should be brought to the attention of the real estate agent. Some vital areas to proceed with caution if problems are discovered are:
- Plumbing system
- HVAC system
- Electrical system
- Severe structural defects with the roof or foundation (damaged or beyond its working lifespan and requires extensive repairs or replacement)
- Severe water intrusion or damage and the presence of mold
- Pest infestation or damage
Working with the real estate agent will help you decide what’s best for your situation, whether negotiating repairs or purchase price, continuing with the purchase, or walking away from the transaction.
However, not every defect found during the inspection may cause serious concern. Remember that purchasing a previously owned home will not be perfect. If there are multiple offers or a need to close on the house quickly, some repair requests might cause more harm than good in delaying the transaction.
What Repair Requests to Avoid?
Naturally, most homebuyers want to move into the home with as few issues as possible and start their homeownership on a clean slate. However, it may be best to avoid repair requests on certain defects:
Normal wear and tear on the home are expected when buying. Chipped paint that needs a touch-up, minor scratches on the floorboards, or a cracked tile are all examples of cosmetic issues that often aren’t worth bringing up to the seller.
While not ideal for the buyer, minor cosmetic repairs can be handled once the home is purchased. Often, the seller may have been advised by their agent to remedy minor cosmetic issues like these to increase the number of offers or listing prices of the home. If the seller ignored the problems when they put the house on the market, they likely wouldn’t concede to such requests as they feel it won’t hinder the sale.
As asking for cosmetic repairs, requests for low-cost repairs may add additional “nitpicking” to the closing process. Repairs in the range of $100 or less, such as a torn window screen or replacing damaged boards on the deck, are best left to the homebuyer. Instead, use a “big picture approach” to wisely spend time and energy on more important concerns throughout the closing process.
If buying in a sellers’ market, there will likely be other offers on the home and moving quickly during the buying process is crucial. If a potential buyer comes back to the sellers with a laundry list of cosmetics and minor repairs, they may opt for a backup offer who did not negotiate these same items. It is essential to pick your battles carefully in these instances.
When considering repair requests or your next move during the closing process on the home, remember that the home inspector and real estate agent are excellent resources to reach out to with questions. If requesting repairs from the seller, understand that they are not obligated to complete them.
If there is a low demand for the home, a seller may concede and address the more minor requests. Keep in mind that from the seller’s perspective, they will likely want to complete the repairs as quickly and cheaply as possible to finalize the home sale. It may make more sense for the homebuyer to request credit for repairing and handling the issue, whether that means doing it themselves or hiring a contractor.
Every situation is different, and there are always exceptions to the rule, so if you are unsure how to proceed, your real estate agent and home inspector are there to help!