5 Tips for Negotiating Repairs After a Home Inspection

As any savvy homebuyer knows, an inspection is generally required before the sale can go through, and if you don’t ask for it, your lender certainly will. The good news is that a home inspection can help you to find both major and minor flaws with the property. In some cases, these issues are no big deal. In other cases, they are in violation of building codes and must be fixed before a sale can proceed. But you’ll also come across major issues that will have to be repaired, either by the seller or by you once you take ownership. And you’ll have to negotiate for who will take on the burden and expense for these repairs, as well as how the sale price will reflect the disparity. Here are a few tips to help you navigate these tricky waters.

  1. Ask your realtor for advice. An experienced realtor is likely an old hand at this type of negotiation, and he/she can advise you on the best way to proceed, as well as how to counter the offers prepared by the seller.
  2. Do your homework. If your home inspection uncovers a faulty roof, call around to get estimates for repair or replacement. Do the same for issues with the plumbing, electrical, HVAC, or any other problems that the homeowner could be responsible for fixing before the sale occurs. The truth is that a homeowner looking for a quick sale simply might not have the time frame available to fix major issues with the home, and the result could be a price drop to compensate you for having to take on the extra expense and burden when you buy. For this reason it’s in your best interest to know how much repairs or renovations are going to cost you.
  3. Plan for what you want and what you’re willing to accept. Negotiating is a delicate process that requires some amount of flexibility from both sides. While you likely have a number in mind that you’d like to see taken off the asking price of the property if you’re going to do the repairs yourself, sellers don’t want to give you any more than they have to, so they’ll probably try to limit any price reduction as much as possible. You just have to decide how much you want the house and how much work and expense you’re willing to take on to have it. Setting your own limits before you begin negotiating will help to ensure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  4. Consider the magnitude of repairs. There are certain things you’re expected to ask for when you buy a home, such as an allowance for paint and carpeting (if the current owners haven’t replaced it themselves). And of course, coming across major issues in need of repair (cracked foundation, faulty wiring, etc.) will lead most interested buyers to request either a fix or a price reduction. But don’t get hung up on little things like ugly finishes, chipped tiles, and so on. Even if you’re personally a stickler about the importance of routine air filter changes, no homeowner is going to give you a reduction because a dirty filter fouled the furnace. Unless you’re purchasing new construction, your property isn’t going to be perfect. And if you want to get money for major fixes, you’ll probably have to let the minor ones go.
  5. Don’t be afraid to walk away. This is important. You don’t necessarily want to quibble over the small stuff, but if owners are unwilling to budge by fixing big problems with the property or offering you a reasonable price reduction to fix them yourself, you probably shouldn’t take the house, no matter how much you want it. Engaging in this type of folly will only land you in debt that you might not be able to afford. So like any kind of negotiation, you have to be willing to walk away if your minimum terms are not met.

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