woman and repair man go over invoice

For most buyers purchasing a used home, things won’t be perfect at the outset. Broken tiles, leaks, mold, and electrical problems are some of the many imperfections that will likely rear their heads in the move-in process. These are also why a good home inspection is crucial.

However, once a home inspection is complete, who does the repairs, and who pays? These questions are often more confusing than simply identifying issues within a home. Here is a guide to get you started on answering them.

Are you protected by the law?

First and foremost, ask your realtor or inspector about state regulations for home repairs on move-in. While some states offer no protection to buyers, some have regulations for home inspections that can make repair negotiations more obvious.

Who should oversee the repairs?

A buyer’s first thought may be to levy all repair responsibility onto the seller. Thus, paying the agreed upon price for a move-in ready home. In practice, this is not necessarily the best approach.

With a seller’s mind already focused on their future, they may not be the most careful executor of repairs. Often, a buyer knows exactly what they are looking for, and can manage repairs with a close and particular eye. If this sounds more desirable, it may be worth attempting to negotiate the purchase price down to accommodate repair costs. Otherwise, a repair credit system or rebate can be established to cover the costs of repairs without hands-on help from the seller.

Are the repairs worth negotiating?

Nobody likes broken plumbing in the kitchen, but if a buyer’s intention is to rip out the kitchen for an immediate remodel, is it worth anyone’s time or money to negotiate small repairs in the space?

Negotiations involve give and take for all parties. If a repair isn’t necessary due to near-future plans for the home, consider compromising on unimportant or simple repairs in order to gain slack for negotiating in other areas of a home’s fitness.

Were conditions known prior to inspection?

There are certain problems within a home that cannot be negotiated at all. To put it simply, any condition that was obvious prior to inspection is off the table. This is a common sense game, but some of these conditions include peeling paint, missing door knobs, cracked cabinets, or anything listed in a property disclosure. Don’t waste time, or a seller’s generous disposition, fighting for fixes that the seller is not obligated to complete.

Additionally, any improvements on energy efficiency, or upgrades to a home for compliance to one or more city codes should not usually be negotiated after inspection.

What are some issues worth negotiating?

The rule of thumb here is, think big. Some drastic repairs are certainly worth fighting for. These may include major roof issues, plumbing problems, window failures, basement moisture, and broken foundations. If something truly sketchy is discovered in the inspection of a home, it is your right and prerogative to negotiate for savings or repair credits.

How much information should you share with the listing agent or seller?

Plainly, you should share very little. The negotiation process is very much a human one. If a seller hears of your big kitchen remodel plans, they likely not offer you any money to repair issues in the kitchen. Be savvy, and keep plans for the future of your home to yourself. This will ensure a fair shot at saving on some needed repairs.

If all else fails, consult your realtor and/or property inspector about priorities for negotiation post-inspection. If they are good at what they do, these contractors should have plenty of experience guiding homeowners toward favorable repair deals!