Buyer Beware: Tips for Negotiating Home Repairs with a Seller
When it comes to buying a house, especially as a first time home buyer, it’s important to know the little details that can put your purchase in jeopardy. One of those things is dealing with the repair requests that may come after a home inspection. This is one reason why you should hire a top real estate agent to guide you. When you find a Realtor who's experienced, they will know how to best negotiate home repairs on your behalf. Let’s look at what the negotiation process can entail and how you should deal with it.
Dig Down Into Your Legal Documents
According to this article by the Balance, the most prevalent legal document in the home-buying process is the real estate contract. In this contract, the details of the property, as well as the asking price, will be documented. You’ll also find certain contingencies in the agreement regarding deadlines and the home inspection. The home inspection contingency gives the buyer the right to have a professional inspection of the home done within a particular timeline. Based on the results of the home inspection, you can decide to negotiate repairs with the seller or walk away from the purchase. If you decide to walk away, make sure the contract covers the return of your deposit. Since it’s possible for you not to notice all the aspects of the contract, it’s recommended that you hire a real estate attorney to handle the legal side of things.
What to Expect with a Home Inspection
Since you’re the one who’ll be stuck with the problems if a home inspection isn’t done, it’s much better to find a professional inspector yourself than work with an inspection done by the seller. HGTV gives some great details for finding an inspector and what you should expect on the day of the inspection. Ideally, you should locate a professional inspector before you start looking for a house so it will be easy to schedule an inspection within the given timeline. You’ll also want an inspector who is familiar with the type of house you’re looking to purchase, delivers reports in a timely manner, and carries insurance that covers errors and omissions. While the inspection may take as long as four hours, knowing exactly what the inspector will assess will be helpful. Once the inspection is complete, the inspector will give you a copy of the inspection report.
Know the Legal Requirements
When it comes to home repairs, there is generally a state requirement regarding what the sellers must fix before selling the house. These requirements may differ from one state to the other but they tend to include things such as building code violations, structural defects, and safety issues. You’ll need to know the requirements for your state as this will be helpful when communicating with the seller. For example, Florida Realtors notes that damaged items such as torn screens and missing roof tiles must be fixed by the seller before the house can be sold under the standard sales contract.
Properties that may not be covered by these regulations are those that are sold "As Is". No matter if the house is being sold on a standard sales contract or "As Is", the seller will need to fully disclose the current state of the property so you’ll know what you’re getting into. The seller must disclose any issue that materially affects the value, including structural problems, termite damage or mold contamination, but they are not necessarily required to fix them.
You Need Repairs, Now What?
Once you’ve received the home inspection report, you’ll be able to identify the mandatory requirements as well as the ones that are open to negotiation. It’s recommended that you refrain from asking the seller to make cosmetic repairs, such as painting or nicks in the wooden flooring. You also shouldn’t ask them to repair additional buildings on the property. When it comes to negotiating with the seller, you can ask for the repairs to be done before closing or you can request closing cost credit or a reduction in price. In some cases, the second option is preferable because it would give you the financial leeway to control the home repair process.
When you’re buying a house, it will be less stressful if you know what your responsibilities and options are. Make sure your plans for buying your dream house aren’t sidelined by issues that could have been easily avoided.
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