The following blog post is by Sue Irwin, Realtor. Thank you for your guest post Sue!
The Real Estate Home Inspection and Request for Repairs
The home inspection is a major part of a buyer’s investigations when purchasing a property, and it is the basis for other possible inspections (such as roof, heating system, foundation, geology) that a buyer might decide to do during the period allotted for investigations during escrow. Even if the seller has provided a home inspection, the buyer may want to have their own inspection done.
There are a number of competent home inspectors in our area, and I like to get the inspection ordered as soon as we have an accepted offer. Home inspections cost from $450-$600, paid by the buyer at time of service.
The job of the home inspector is to do a general but thorough inspection of the entire property: the lot, fencing and retaining walls, foundation, exterior and interior of the home, the roof, and any areas under the house. They check that the main appliances are operational, that the main plumbing, heating and electrical systems are safe and operational, and if there are any health and safety issues that might be a problem with the specific property. Home inspectors are “generalists” and may recommend that the buyer get an additional inspection from a specialist if there is a problem with a roof, foundation, etc.
I personally like to be at the inspection the entire time (about 3 hours). Buyers can be there the whole time but often come for the last hour of the inspection, at which time inspector will go over his findings and point out areas of the home that may have problems. Then within a day or two, the inspector emails the buyer and agent a 30- to 50-page report of all the findings, along with photographs of items that may need attention. The inspection report is the buyer’s property, and is not automatically sent to the seller or seller’s agent.
You Have the Home Inspection… What’s Next?
Your home inspection will inevitably point out some problems with the property, even if it is brand new. You can discuss these problems with the inspector at the time of the inspection or by phone later on, and he will let you know as much as he can about them. Most home inspectors have many years of experience, and they know what is truly problematic, what needs common maintenance sooner than later, and what to keep an eye on for future possible maintenance.
You may decide to get further inspections as indicated in the general inspection (most of these are inspections you will pay for), or you may want to get estimates from electricians, contractors, plumbers, and other service providers for the most important issues on the report. The extent of this secondary phase of inspections depends on what is called out on the report and what you decide is important to you after speaking with the general inspector. As an agent I may also recommend that you take the inspector’s advice about further investigations, and I can recommend inspectors or service providers and facilitate getting estimates for repairs.
This information may be only for your benefit if you are truly buying a house in “As Is” condition. Otherwise you will use it as proof of problems when asking the seller to either have a problem fixed or credit you money for repairs. These requests are presented in a signed Request for Repairs document, at which time your agent will most likely send the listing agent a copy of the home inspection and any estimates or further inspections you have received.
Deciding What to Ask For in a Request for Repairs –
and What to Expect from the Seller
What repairs or credits a buyer decides to ask for depends on the extent of the problems with the property, what issues are the most important to them, and how they think the seller might react to the request. Most often a buyer is advised to stick to health and safety items, and damage that could adversely affect the structural integrity of the home over time.
The Request for Repairs process is a negotiation during escrow, and crafting an effective Request for Repairs is an important job of a buyer’s agent. Part of this is learning as much as possible about the personalities and goals of the seller and the seller’s agent before you decide what to ask for. You may have a list a mile long, but it is advisable to get the list pared down to the most important items and be willing to let the small stuff go for the moment. Again, it depends on all the people involved. Even in an “As Is” sale, a buyer may be able to get repairs or credits for maintenance issues if the Request for Repairs is done skillfully.
What can you expect as a response from the seller? Anything from a complete No to a complete Yes! Discuss ahead of time what you hope to get in a response, and what you will do with different levels of response from the seller. If the seller response is not enough to keep you in the sale, you can keep negotiating to try for the response you need. At some point you may have to let the home go and try another property – it may just be too problematic of a property for your budget or your time and abilities.
More often than not, however, a Request for Repairs can be negotiated to everyone’s satisfaction, making you one step closer to closing your escrow and owning your new home!
Sue Irwin is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and a Coastal Housing Partnership member. She can be reached at 805-705-6973.