Many of my clients ask for my advice regarding if and how to negotiate with sellers in repairing any defects uncovered during their home inspection. In reality, this is a question best directed to the real estate agents involved, but I will address some basic thoughts regarding this question for anyone who either isn’t working with a realtor or is also wondering how to negotiate after receiving their home inspection report.
First, I would encourage anyone selling or purchasing a home to find and work with an experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent. Yes, it will cost some money, but realtors exist to provide professional help with a process that is rather complicated and overwhelming for most people who cannot easily navigate through the hurdles of real estate transactions on their own. While I am confident that my brief advice in this article would be echoed by any real estate agent, I encourage you to consult an agent regarding any issues related to this topic and to heed their advice as a priority.
That being said, I will give my “two cents” as a home inspector who witnesses various facets of real estate transacting often. In my experience, it is generally not advisable to demand that sellers make repairs that they have already disclosed in the seller’s disclosure. These are defects that the seller is aware of and has been upfront and honest in disclosing to potential buyers, and their asking price for the home presumably takes these existing defects into account. To demand that sellers repair defects they have fully disclosed is generally inappropriate.
Upon receiving your home inspection report as a buyer, you will likely see several defects not listed in the seller’s disclosure, and these defects are typically things that the seller was simply not aware of because most homeowners are not trained to thoroughly evaluate a home the way we inspectors are. Most of the defects on your report will probably be minor, while a couple may be more major. Major defects are concerns that pose more serious concerns, such as safety issues, major structural damage, active leaking, or your ability to insure or legally occupy the home.
Major defects that are uncovered by the inspection but not disclosed by the seller are issues you may wish to address in negotiating with the seller. In general, the several less significant defects are issues you will likely want to plan on taking care of yourself as part of your total investment as the new owner of the home.
Last but not least, you should understand that the main purpose of a home inspection is to provide you with a general and objective overview of the property’s condition so you are better prepared in making your purchasing decision prior to closing. That may, of course, lead to some negotiating, but a home inspection is not meant primarily to be a tool for making demands.
Focus on the “big” issues that arise from your home inspection if and when you attempt to negotiate with sellers, and heed the advice of a trusted real estate agent who is trained to represent and guide you in your home buying journey. Questions pertaining to financial decisions are best directed to realtors or real estate attorneys, whereas questions about defects on your inspection report are best directed to your home inspector.
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