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How to Negotiate After a Home Inspection


Let’s face it, unless you’re in the business of selling Real Estate, knowing how to negotiate home inspection repairs is probably not a skill you have mastered.  The process can be a bit nerve-racking for a new home buyer, but keep in mind, the seller of your future home is probably just as nervous about it as you are.  So take a deep breath, and relax.  It’s time to look at this task objectively, and come to a reasonable agreement.

You won’t know unless you ask

Many buyers I have have represented are worried about how much burden to place on a seller for inspection repairs.  The business of buying and selling Real Estate is not an exact science, and there is no preverbal line drawn in the sand in regards to how much is too much to ask with repairs.  You will never know what a seller is willing to do unless you ask, and the worst that could happen is being told ‘No’.  You should only ask for concessions or repairs for items clearly identified on an inspection report, this inspection contingency should not be a tool for you to attempt to re-negotiate the price without reason.  The great part about negotiating is that both you and the seller want the same thing – to close escrow on the home.  Find common ground and compromise.

Big Ticket flaws could be a noted condition on your appraisal

Let’s say that you negotiate with the seller after the inspection to not have the failed windows replaced, and agree to some other concession in lieu of the problem.  If you are subject to financing, the appraiser may include the failed windows as a repair condition before funding anyway.  Likewise with any other visible problem that could have an adverse effect on the functionality or value of the home, such as the roof, siding, code violations or visible hazards.  It would be wise for you to clarify with your lender if the appraisal for your loan could pose a conflict for what you are or intending to do with negotiations.  The better plan may be to have repairs made prior to close.  It may be more advantageous for both the buyer and seller to wait to have repairs done until after close, with funds reserved in escrow.  Your agent can guide you through this if this would be a better option.

Don’t nitpick on every little detail

I recommend to all of my buyer clients that they have their home inspected – regardless of the age of the home, as they should. It’s pretty much a guarantee that a quality inspector will find something critical to note on their report for your review – regardless of how well or poorly the home was built and kept.  That being said, the results of your inspection are not necessarily meant for you to turn them into a ‘punch list’.  Remember, you are asking the seller to make repairs on their home while they are simultaneously packing personal belongings and focusing on their exit strategy.  Focus on the issues that matter, and have your own plan for correcting the smaller ones – welcome to being a homeowner.

How to handle the inspection notice to the seller

Your inspection notice to the seller will likely include the options of approving the inspection, disapproving the inspection, asking for additional inspections, or asking for repairs.  The most important question you should answer before you make your decision is this – Regardless of what the report tells you, do you still want the home?  Your inspection report may have revealed some disturbing facts about the condition of the home, and you may be gun shy about asking the seller to agree to make repairs.  Regardless of if you have the courage to ask, the seller at some point is going to have to deal with the damage that your inspector discovered – and they may already know about the issue that is worrying you anyway, and are anticipating it to come up.  The best course of action if you want to proceed with the sale is to be reasonable but firm in your approach.  You’re not there to soak the seller with fixing every little detail, but you do need to be concerned about the structural integrity and safety of the home.  Follow the guidance of your agent, and you will reach a successful conclusion.

Are you in the market to buy, and are not committed to an agent?  I have plenty of years of experience in Residential Real Estate, we should meet soon and discuss your plans for the near future.  Let’s love your new home together!

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Ed Kunkel