Whether you are selling or buying your perfect home, the one full of memories of yesteryear or the one with memories to be made, it isn’t always perfect, at least not to a home inspector whose single job is to find the flaws in the home and let you know about them. Whether you are the buyer or the seller, this can be a stressful time, trying to decide how to handle the issues that have been brought to your attention, and how to negotiate without losing the sale.
Assuming the home inspector was reputable, experienced, and licensed, whatever problems they brought forth in their inspection report has every buyer wanting the seller to fix what the home inspector has found, and every seller thinking the house is fairly priced and why should they fix anything—which can bring negotiations to a standstill. However, all is not lost; here are some tips to negotiating repairs after the home inspection:
- The Art of the Deal – Whichever side of the table you sit on, you are going to have to negotiate over what you will and will not fix. There is a lot at stake here, if you won’t bend, including losing the sale completely. Some buyers have unrealistic expectations and want the 1920s bungalow to be in new construction condition, while some sellers look at the cracks in the wall and ceiling as a well-loved home—so lose the emotion, and think logically. Buyers, making a few minor repairs allows you to put your mark on the home and make it your own. Sellers, take the time to look critically at your home and do some of the repairs you have been putting off for years before you try to put your house on the market.
- Ask for Credit – For example, if there is an issue with the plumbing, ask for a closing cost credit or a price reduction. This is a win-win for both buyer and seller, as the buyer can fix the issue using their choice of contractor and get the job done to their satisfaction. For the seller, it’s one less thing for you to do before you move out, and you won’t risk losing a buyer, which can be a disaster in a competitive market. Alternatively, ask the sellers to pay for the repairs outright, or agree to split the cost.
- Walk Away – Depending upon what the home inspector finds, if it is serious, like structural issues or mold, or other major issues that cost thousands, you may have to walk away from the deal completely if there is no wiggle room in the price. This option is by far the hardest—for the buyer, it was months of searching and hoping to buy a home, all of which goes up in smoke; for the seller, it means you will now have to disclose to future buyers the problems found if you choose not to fix them. This is a last resort option if all avenues have been exhausted.
As a seller, you can always have your own home inspection done prior to selling your home so you are not taken by surprise by a buyer’s inspection report. As a buyer, ask the home inspector to prioritize his inspection list so you can see what needs to be taken care of immediately, and what can wait, especially if you have plans for major renovations down the line. Remember, the idea is to buy or sell a home so you can move on with the rest of your life, so stand firm on major issues, but don’t get caught up in negotiations over the small stuff.