Don't Shoot The Messenger
Home inspectors are paid to find issues with houses. A simple break down of our occupation is to offer a third party, non-biased, non-invasive inspection of the property in its current state at the time of the inspection. Home Inspectors do not have a crystal ball. Issues with a home one day may be different then the next day. As a home buyer you want as thorough evaluation of the property as you can. This is a home you are going to be living in every single day, day in day out most likely for years. Your home inspector will only be their for 2-4 hours or so. Again, our job, the whole reason we have jobs is to find concerns. This is a potential double edged sword for us. A good thorough home inspection will find issues. Miss finding these issues, buyers and buyer agents will be disappointed and upset, rightfully so. Find issues and the home owner and listing agent will be just as upset. But, this is none of your concern. I am a home inspector, Owner/Founder of EC Home Inspections. Just because there are issues is not a reason to walk away, most of the issues we find our typical and routine maintenance concerns. Roofs for example are a big concern. However, roofs as any other component system of the home require maintenance, repairs and eventually replacement. So just because there are some roof repairs that should be done does not necessarily equal the roof is in poor condition and at the first rain or snow it is going to completely collapse. Do not freak out. Again, this is a concern where a good agent will help. Also, your home inspector should describe rather it is a big concern or typical maintenance.
1. Ask for a credit for the work to be done
The sellers are on their way out. If the property is moving toward closing, they’re likely packing and dreaming of their new home. The last thing they want to do is repair work on their old home. I have seen this happen several times. As a result, they may not approach the work with the same conscientiousness that you, as the new owner, would. Often they will only want to repair the bare minimum jobs. They may not even treat the work as a high priority. If you take a cash-back credit at close of escrow, you can use that money to complete the project yourself. Chances are you may do a better job than the seller, too. Finally, if you get the credit, there will be less back and forth to confirm the work has been done.
2. Think ‘big picture’
If you know you want to renovate a bathroom within a few years, then you likely won’t care that a little bit of its floor is damaged, that there’s a leaky faucet or that the caulking needs to be redone. These things will get fixed during your future renovation. However, the repairs are still up for negotiation. Asking the seller for a credit to fix these issues will help offset some of your closing costs.
3. Keep your cards close to your chest
A good listing agent will walk the property inspection with you, your agent and the inspector. Revealing your comfort level with the home or your intentions, in the presence of the listing agent, could come back to haunt you in further discussions or negotiations.
For example, if you mention you’re planning a gut renovation of the kitchen, the sellers will certainly hear about it. And they’re going to be less likely to offer you a credit back to repair some of the kitchen cabinets. Also, if the listing agent hears you tell the inspector that you love the home so much you don’t mind replacing the HVAC system, the agent will surely let the sellers know about that.
KEEP THIS IN MIND
Do not be afraid to play hardball with a seller. They listed their home because they want to sell it. Use the inspection against them, be REASONABLE though. If they want to sell their home, they need to repair issues. Even if the deal falls through with one home buyer, that same inspection report may stand for future buyers that make an offer. Asking for repairs is a great way to get a feel exactly how motivated they are to sell. A seller that refuses to make repairs is a seller that does not want to sell. Again, I will make the point that your home inspectors job is to find possible issues, afterwards rely on your agent to discuss and consult with in regards to what repairs you would like to ask for.