When you buy a house, a home inspection is highly recommended.
“You’re not just buying that beautiful master suite or stone-lined fireplace, “you’re also buying any problems lurking in the walls or the crawl space or the attic,” says home inspector and president of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), Bill Loden.
The inspector will look at structural issues and other potential problems that could make the home a bad investment. After the inspection is completed, you usually have about 10 days to pull out of the sale contingent on inspection or move forward.
In many cases, the inspection results can prove that the home is a money pit where you really don’t want to waste your time. In others, you’ll be instantly happy with the results and ready to move in, as long as the lender approves it. Most places, however, require a little repair before closing.
Don’t panic at the prospect of making certain repairs. It might feel overwhelming, especially if you’re feeling like it’s all on your shoulders. The key is negotiating repairs with the home seller. Here are some tips for doing so successfully.
- Ignore the Cosmetic Issues
Inspectors will often note small things on their list, like a deck with peeling paint, windows that need caulking, or cracked tile in the kitchen. You might also notice small things like ugly paint colors or scratched wood floors. These things will need to be repaired, but it’s not something to bring to the seller’s attention.
“While it’s tempting to start nickel-and-diming the sellers so that your new home can be as pristine as possible when you move in, that’s just not realistic,” Kyle Springer, a Coldwell Banker realtor in Kentucky, commented in a Realtor.com article. “Instead, concentrate your time and attention on major, structural issues, rather than cosmetic ones.”
You can probably handle a lot of these problems by yourself, and if you over stress the small stuff, you’ll lose your bargaining power for larger, more expensive jobs.
- Ask for Repair Money, Not Repairs
Money is almost always more useful in this instance than having the repairs done by the seller. This principle is similar to when you’re given a Christmas gift that you don’t want to keep. You’ll go to the store to return it and take the store credit to spend on whatever you want. You know you’ll be satisfied with what you get because you’re the one who picked it out.
The same thing goes here. When asked to make the repairs, the seller is no longer invested in doing a good job. They’ll simply do their duty and move on. If they give you money, you can have it done the way you want.
“The home seller will almost always find the cheapest available contractor or family member to fix the problem,” explains Scott Brown, an inspector in New York in the same article from Realtor.com. “Meanwhile, you as the buyer would, of course, prefer the best contractor available.”
- Don’t Show Your Cards
Most of the time when an inspection comes back with problems, the buyer develops plans for correcting the problems. They might also include other renovations they plan to do at the same time to cut costs. This is a smart way to approach a home purchase, but you shouldn’t tell the seller or their agent about it.
“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,” explains Brendon Desimone of Zillow. “If they sense you are uneasy with the inspection, they’ll be more willing to relay that to the seller. Conversely, if you spend two hours measuring the spaces and picking paint colors, you lose negotiation power.”
Generally, the less you say about your personal plans during negotiations, the better. Let the seller and their agent interpret your feelings so that you get a better deal. Additionally, keep thoughts of DIY renovations to yourself if you don’t want to lose some of the repair credit you’re asking for.
- Build In Closing Costs
Depending on the house you’re buying and the situation of the seller, you might be able to get the sellers to pay closing costs instead of repair credit. This works best if you know that the seller doesn’t have savings.
“A lot of sellers out there may not have the cash on hand to make a repair prior to closing,” advises an article from the Real Estate Witch. “No matter how good you are at negotiations, you can’t wring out a dry rag.”
If they pay the closing costs, you’ll have more money to make the necessary repairs. It’s usually a win-win for everyone, but be smart about it. If the repairs needed will be twice the cost of closing costs, you might not be getting the best deal by stopping at this exchange.
- Take Into Account the Home History
It’s harder to get a seller to pay for repairs if the damage is from wear and tear. Disrepair usually comes with old houses, and it’s harder to pinpoint exactly who caused the damage. The seller might use the history against you in this case.
However, if the home is only a few years old with a single owner, you know who is at fault. You can make a good case for having them pay for resulting repairs. They’re more likely to take ownership of the problem and hand it over to you in better shape.
- Know When to Stop Negotiating
There’s a fine line between knowing when to quit and pursuing further negotiations. You want to take some risks and get as much as you can from the buyers, but you don’t want to push so hard that they close the doors and won’t budge. The Real Estate Witch recommends pushing for a great house, but not expecting everything.
“Remember, your goal is to get the house you want, not “win” on every line item,” she says. “You could be putting your deal in jeopardy over small items that are meaningless in the scheme of 5,10, or 20+ years of owning a home.”
If you’ve won on some of your big priorities, it might be time to stop pushing. You probably won’t get everything on your list, but you can be satisfied with your victories.
- Know When to Walk Away
Negotiations might not be going as you hoped, and if that’s the case, it might simply be time to walk away from the house. Not all deals can be salvaged, despite applying your best negotiation tactics. If you’re buying a home in a seller’s market, the seller might hold most of the power and refuse to move.
As long as you’re within the 10 days of your inspection window, you can pull out without repercussions. You never want to buy a house that will be more stressful and expensive than it’s worth. Sometimes, it’s best to simply pull out and find an option that won’t be such a hassle.
Contact Green Residential Today!
When you need a real estate group that will be in your corner during the negotiations, consider Green Residential. Our team of certified real estate agents in the greater Houston region are devoted to helping you get the best deal on your home purchase. For more information about our services and how we can help you, contact us today!