Most people are familiar with the home inspection process, a popular trend which is growing more popular each year in the home buying process. The goal is to determine the home’s condition, from the roof to the foundation and all the systems in between like electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling. Ideally you are buying a home that is well maintained and only has a few outstanding problems that require attention.
Unfortunately, many homeowners defer maintenance to save time or money, and prospective buyers must decide how to respond to their home inspection.
The home inspector provides an impartial view of the condition of the home at the time of the inspection, performing a service without emotional ties to either the buyer or the seller. After the home inspection process is complete, the buyer generally has four choices to consider after receiving your home inspection report:
1) Do nothing until after the closing.
2) Ask the sellers to make the repairs.
3) Ask the sellers to pay for the repairs.
4) … or cancel the purchase based on the report.
Home Inspection Option #1: Do Nothing
Doing nothing may be the best option for the buyers. Unless you’re buying a new home, you shouldn’t expect everything to be perfect due to normal wear and tear. After all you are buying a used home. Even with new homes there are flaws, the home is built by humans who can and will make mistakes.
If you’re buying a home that is well maintained, it is realistic to find minor repairs you can handle after you move in. Asking the seller to address the entire list of minor repairs will typically lead to bad feelings and poor communications which adds to the stress associated with moving.
Home Inspection Option #2: Ask The Sellers To Make Repairs
Sellers will typically make some of the repairs listed in the home inspection report. If you need to ask for this, chances are you won’t be happy with the quality of the repairs and/or materials, making this the worst option. Sellers will go with the cheapest and fastest contractor or solution to get the items corrected and keep the process moving.
If you’re firm about having the seller do the repairs, use the following recommendations:
• Specify in the purchase agreement that work must be done by licensed contractors.
• Require that permits be pulled and inspections completed by the authority with jurisdiction, i.e. your town’s building inspector.
• Specify a date for the follow-up inspection if one is planned, preferably a week before the closing so there is time to resolve outstanding items.
Home Inspection Option #3: Ask Sellers To Pay for Repairs
This option is usually best for the buyer, as they don’t pay for the repairs. Often the seller will counter with an offer to split the projected costs. The buyer can then hire their own contractors to do the work and oversee the project after they own the house. This is the most logical approach, but sometimes buyers think they’re not getting a good deal if they buy a house and need to do repairs right away.
Home Inspection Option #4: Cancel The Purchase
Unless you have experience fixing up homes, you may find yourself in a situation where there are too many problems, or they’re too large, complicated and/or expensive. This can happen when the home inspector finds serious problems with the foundation, structural problems or multiple whole house systems all needing to be repaired immediately. If you don’t have the time or skill to deal with these repairs, and the seller won’t correct the problems, then you likely will have to walk away from the deal.
When major problems are found, and you are willing to manage the repairs, you need to make sure you have estimates from the contractors who will be making the repairs. Where the extent of the damage is unknown, you either need to add to the projected costs or find a way to get a more complete evaluation and estimate which is critical when there is water damage and/or mold issues that could cost $10,000s in repair.
Talking with your home inspector and real estate professional you can determine the right course of action for you during the process.