Now that you have had that home inspected, and know its condition, just what should you ask the seller to repair?
Well the day has come, the inspection report is in your hand, and it is time to make some decisions. A question I am asked by clients is what is important enough to go back to the seller and ask concessions and/or repairs for? Unfortunately just like many other things in life there is no real set or proper answer for this question. I will wager that if you ask ten different people that question you will receive ten different answers. In my opinion the worst answer is “Don’t bother asking the seller for anything as it might kill the deal!”. Another poor answer is “The house is being sold As Is so you can’t really ask for much or anything!”. Of course there are many other less than informed answers out there as well. I call them less than informed or worst only because only you really know all of your particular situation and that is what is needed to answer this question.
We still have no answer to the original question now do we? Given the conditions it is much better that instead of trying to answer the question directly we instead discuss how you can answer the question. The whole process might seem overwhelming, and then you receive a detailed inspection report on top of that! The very first step is to read and understand the report. It is going to be easier if you print a copy of the report so you can use it to highlight important items, make notes, and write questions you need answered. If you don’t understand something in the report call and ask your Home Inspector about it. It is important that you know what the report has so you can make decisions about what to do next.
The next thing you should do is to have tradespeople and other professionals come in to review the issues found and prepare estimates for their repair. Make sure that if the work is covered by a required licensed tradesperson or professional that you only have a licensed person from that field perform the review and estimate. A licensed professional will be charging more for their services than a person who is not properly licensed. If you try to save yourself time by using a General Contractor (GC) to obtain estimates then at least make sure the estimate is going to show that the GC is quoting the costs based on using the properly licensed professionals. There are various reasons for the higher price that we won’t speak of here but obtaining estimates from unlicensed people can cost you way more money later than you thought!
When you have the estimates performed there are very, very important points you need to consider. Even if you knew an issue existed before you made your offer do not leave those needed repairs out when you are obtaining estimates. Even if you feel you can fix or handle something on the report that you were not aware of before the offer again do not leave these items out when obtaining estimates. Never make your final decision based on what you think you can do but instead what it will cost you to bring a proper professional in to do the work. Unfortunately it happens all to often that we think we are going to do the work and for many reasons never get to it and have to call someone in. Or what also happens is that when the professional comes in to provide the estimate they might be aware of other hidden problems that would cost even more than you thought. If you make your final decision based on what you think you can repair it for then you could be in for some real budget busting surprises later!
Now you are down to the meat of the question and that is what should you ask the seller to repair or provide concessions on? First off I am not a big proponent of having the seller perform any repairs unless the total work for the repair or its cost is not known until the repairs are completed. The reason I am not is the fact that the seller wants to sell their home for the highest price and least amount of cost to repair items. If you leave it to the seller to repair they might well bring in Uncle Fred (no offense Freds of the world) or the cheapest person, and usually unlicensed, to perform the repair. It is usually not until after you have taken possession of the home that you find out not only was the work substandard but it will cost more to undo and do right than if it was just done right the first time. If you are going to allow the seller to repair anything make sure it is with the stipulation that you be provided with the repair receipts. Then make sure you check those receipts to ensure only properly licensed professionals did perform the work. At least that way you can have someone to possibly go back on later if the repair was not proper.
With the repair estimates in hand you can now not only make a decision what to ask the seller for but you might even receive another surprise. It is always possible that you might now see that the home you thought was a great deal even at the sellers asking price might not be such a great deal? With the estimates you just might decide the house is more than you are willing to deal with and it is time to look for another home. If you choose to go forward with the purchase you now can compare the repair costs to what you can afford to have done yourself and not ask the seller for and what you can’t afford to do and will ask the seller for concessions on.
That’s how you decide what to ask the seller for concessions on. It is a very simple process isn’t it? However when your mind is swimming with so many things all at once like working on the financing, insurances, etc., etc., etc., this part of the buying process, as simple as it is, becomes very confusing and daunting and we lose sight of how to approach it. One last thing to keep in mind is that buying a home can be an emotional process from falling in love with that “Just Right” house to unlocking the door to allow the movers to start bringing the boxes and furniture in. In the part of the process where your deciding what to ask the seller for you need to remove all emotion from this step. Buying and selling a home is also a business process where emotions can cause you more problems in the long run. Many people will go into a car purchase like a shark, with no emotions, and tear the sales person up and get a great deal. Why would you want to buy a home of such greater value than a car and not do the same?
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