For the home buyer — buying the “perfect” house
You found a great house, and like any smart home buyers, you included an inspection contingency in your purchase agreement. What happens when you find out that your “perfect” house needs some work? Do you ask the sellers to pay for the repairs? Before you say “yes”, there are some important considerations.
Some contracts require all the systems, such as plumbing, heating, electrical and central air conditioning, to be in working order. Either way, it is still pertinent to get a highly qualified home inspector (See my column on how to compare inspectors-“Finding a Highly Qualified Inspector with Competitive Prices”).
You now have normally 5-10 days (including weekends/holidays) from the date of acceptance to have the inspection done and submit a copy to the seller. This clause is VERY TIME SENSITIVE. Be sure to check your contract for the exact time frame you have. If you do not get the inspection within your particular time frame, you have lost your rights to do an inspection and must purchase the home in “As-Is Condition” without any rights to request repairs. In the same respect, if the seller does not meet their time frames, legally the buyer can walk and not have to purchase this home.
Be sure to read this carefully. You are agreeing to buy this home contingent upon a home inspection that does not discover latent defects, health hazards or structural issues. If these items are found you normally have a total of 7-10 days from date of original contract acceptance to get those issues in writing to the seller.
At this point, the seller usually has 10-14 days from original contract acceptance to accept/reject your proposal to make repairs to the home or negotiate the repairs in writing. The will most likely repair certain items or he might have to have to let you out of the contract by rejecting your proposal so they may pursue a different purchaser.
You may also negotiate the repairs by having the sellers take the dollar repair amount off the price or have them give you an allowance to do the repairs yourself. But, keep in mind, contractually the seller may opt to just do the repairs if they prefer to do so. You cannot force them to pay you out of pocket for repairs. Remember, normal wear and tear or cosmetics of a home is acceptable and does not count when negotiating repairs. It is a good idea to make note of any cosmetic issues you find prior to making an offer. If your realtor is familiar with construction he or she may be able to assist you. Keep in mind that minor or cosmetic issues probably won’t be taken care of until you move in and take care of them yourself! Perhaps with a little help.
Usually , the seller will do at least half the repairs. Unless of course, the home is priced extremely well or you have negotiated a great deal for yourself-the seller’s may not be inclined to do any repairs. Even if you think they should. It’s a negotiation that can go either way, but the inspectors notes will most definitely help! Remember, if it is the perfect house for you this does not mean it is “PERFECT”. Don’t walk away from the home you fell in love with over a few hundred dollars or even for a couple thousand. These things can be overlooked and negotiated or perhaps there not so bad. Do you really want to start the process over of searching again? It is almost guaranteed that you will not find a home with no repairs to be done. Be empathetic, put yourself in the sellers position and it will help you make the right decision — one that you won’t regret!!