When purchasing a property, a home inspector will assess the home's condition, including all systems, structures, and appliances. Finding defects and issues throughout the inspection is extremely common, even on newly constructed homes.
Inspectors will bring even minor issues to the homebuyer's attention to provide awareness of their condition or alert them of potential problems before they turn into something more significant. In most cases, minor issues such as cosmetic matters or concerns that require inexpensive repairs will not throw off the transaction or require further negotiation.
However, when it comes to significant defects that require expensive and invasive repairs, the homebuyer may want to work with their real estate agent to negotiate the sale to account for these expenses.
What is the best way to approach such negotiations? A real estate agent is an excellent person to call on for guidance in this situation. There are a few different routes one can take but remember that the seller is not obligated to comply. Depending on the current state of the market, the sellers may have other buyers lined up that are willing to accept the current state of the house with their original offer.
A commonplace to start is requesting that the seller fix the issues found during the home inspection. If agreed upon by the seller, the upside of this option is having the problem remedied before moving into the home, ultimately having one less thing to worry about during this transitional period.
The downside is that the homebuyer may have less control over the results, and the seller may opt to complete the repairs as quickly or as cheaply as possible to move the transaction along. In this option, homebuyers risk subpar quality work being conducted on the home, or the issues are not correctly fixed in time for the planned move-in date.
Another option is to request credit for the repairs. Once a repair estimate is received, the buyer can ask the seller to credit the repair costs into the home price, lowering the overall cost of the home and the monthly mortgage payments. The homebuyer can then use the credit to cover repairs, allowing greater control over the project, specific to their wishes.
While choosing the credit option for the repair cost will lower the overall price of the home sale, the buyer will still need to come up with the funds to complete the repairs in the short term. The homebuyer may not have extra money for an expensive repair project between the down payment, closing costs, and moving expenses.
If the seller does not agree with either of the above options, there are only two choices left for the buyer: accept the house as-is or walk away from the home sale. If the repair costs are too high for the buyer to cover in addition to the price of the home itself, they may be better off walking away from the deal if the seller won’t concede on repairs or credits. The home inspection is there to provide the buyer with information about the state of the home, and if numerous significant defects are found, they may not want to invest in a money pit of constant repairs.
On the other hand, opting not to negotiate further and continue the transaction might make sense for some buyers. After all, no home is perfect, and the previous owners have been living in and using its features; wear and tear on the house comes as no surprise. Further, nearly all structures, systems, and appliances have an expected working lifespan even when properly maintained. A roof, on average, will last 30 years, so if the homebuyer plans to live at the residence for an extended period, they will likely have to complete its replacement or repair at some point during the ownership.