Bill: Missy and Don substantially agree, yet each brings their own perspective to these issues – and both are important and useful.
Missy : Most buyers and sellers understand that buying and selling a home requires negotiation. You give a little here, and they concede a bit there. As a buyer you get the inspection report, and you go first. So it’s important that you do not make demands for unnecessary repairs. It is critical for you to understand which repairs are necessary and which might annoy the seller enough to shatter the deal. Here is a list of repair requests buyers should think twice about before making them.
Easily repaired items under $10
Missy : Some home inspections include a list of items that cost under $10 to repair or replace. Save yourself the hassle and omit these things from the list of requested repairs. Switchplates and light bulbs? Really? Are lightbulbs really a safety issue? The key items to repair are anything that actually has to do with Safety or the breakdown of a major home System .
Don : Yes, items under $10 are nit picking.
Bill : Some accepted offers include a note from the sellers that say they are not going to repair or compensate for any items found by a home inspection. Unless the listing sheet specifies “AS IS” the sellers may have to repair all Safety Issues – and most major issues with key systems.
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors 2
Bill: In some states these items are part of a home inspection. But not in Massachusetts. On Cape Cod home inspectors do not test these because by Mass. law they must be tested and approved by the local Fire Department. This is commonly called the “ Smoke Test .” In many towns their Fire Department will do a free pre-test and tell the sellers exactly what devices are required and where they should be installed. The fee for the final smoke test and its Certificate of Compliance is paid by the seller.
Click the arrow below to see an actual Smoke Test Certificate of Compliance.
Cosmetic Issues In a Resale Home 3
Missy : Unless the home is brand-new construction a repair request for a cosmetic issue is not a good idea. Normal wear and tear should be expected in any resale home and should be a factor in the original price negotiations - not items requested for repair from a professional home inspection. Don : I recently had a home with absolutely terrible plastering. The homeowner, in an attempt to replace popcorn, did it himself and it was terrible. The buyers asked for it to be fixed by a professional and the seller said no, so the buyers found another home. They asked me about including it in the inspection, but I told them no since it was a cosmetic issue. Yet it was an expensive fix.
Repairs of Minor Plumbing or Electrical Issues 4
Missy : Sometimes a home inspection report will include issues with simple electrical and plumbing items. Unless the problems cited are safety concerns you should not list them as requested repairs. Simple issues such as an upside-down outlet or a corroded fitting are DIY or handyman repairs that can easily be handled post-closing. Don : I can see a homeowner asking for electric and plumbing issues to be fixed as this may require a professional if the buyer is not able to do such work. Corroded pipes lead to future leaks or can be a sign of low quality or old plumbing.
Hairline Cracks in Basement or Driveway 5
Missy : Concrete expands and contracts naturally and, over time, cracks will occur. As long as the cracks are minor don’t list them in a request for repairs. However, if the breaks are more than a quarter inch, it’s an excellent idea to have a structural inspection.
Structural cracks are a whole new ballgame.
Don : Hairline cracks in a basement, although not a structural concern, can be a potential water leak.
Outdoor Landscaping, Porch and Fence 6
Missy : These items were visible at the initial showing and should be a factor in the initial offer and negotiations. It’s not a good idea to ask for things that were obvious at the beginning, such as sod replacement, fence restoration, loose railings or loose hinges. It’s also not a good idea to include a request for the removal of overgrown plants or trees even if they are touching the house. You can do that after closing. Then, they can be trimmed in a manner appealing to you. Don : I always report loose railings as a safety concern. A damaged fence can be an expensive replacement. Overgrown shrubs, vegetation in contact with home can be hiding problems that are not visible until vegetation is removed. I always recommend removal and further review of area after removal.
Replacement of Failed Seals in Windows 7
Missy : Unless the window is under warranty, most sellers will refuse to fix a failed seal. Window seals fail over time with use, and depending on the age of the window seal, failure can be expected. It’s another simple fix, and sometimes you need to choose your battles. Don : A failed seal in a fixed slider window or a semi- circular window can be expensive. Also, if there are many broken seals the cost adds up. I think extensive broken seals tend to be an indication of low-quality windows. Its rare to find a broken seal in an Anderson or Pella or Marvin.
New Furnace, Water Heater, or AC Because they are OLD
Missy : If the HVAC system or water heater is working properly, its age does not matter. You cannot request the replacement of a functioning system. You can order an additional inspection (if you are still within the inspection period) and ask for repairs if they are needed, but that is it. If the age of the HVAC or water heater was not disclosed or disclosed in error before going under contract, you could request a concession, but the sellers do not have to give it to you. Don : I think that the majority of buyers do not look carefully at the boiler, furnace, and water heaters before making and offer, and may have no idea of their age until the inspection.
Missy : This is a bit of a gray area because sometimes roofs are very old and free of leaks but hard to insure due to age. If you suspect the roof might be at the end of its lifecycle, agree to how the roof will be handled pre-inspection before going under contract. If you don’t, you might be without much recourse. Don : I also think that the majority of buyers may not know the roof is nearing the end of life until an inspection. Also, ages reported by sellers are not always accurate. Roof repairs for a roof that is free of leaks or structural damage 9
Missy : For all the items you would like to have fixed - and are not safety or related to the failure of an expensive system – bundle them together in a request for credit at closing. For Example, sellers are more likely to agree to a $300 credit at closing, than repair 30 issues that will cost $10 each and they would have to do themselves. Bill : Ask your buyer agent to prepare a Prioritized list of repair/compensation requests. As a buyer agent I always do this. It may be counter-intuitive, but it is important to give the seller and listing agent a copy of the complete inspection report. Once they know about a repair item they have to disclose it to the next buyer – so they might as well deal with it now and with you.
Thanks Missy and Don for the Great Info
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