In comments to a recent post on home inspections, local Realtor peer and Inman voice Hank Miller said, “Agents need to be the reality check, not a bobblehead for the buyer. Safety and code issues along with major obvious deferred maintenance issues are usually appropriate, (but what about) typical deferred maintenance? Account for that in the offer price. An inspection isn’t intended to be a second round of price negotiation.”
I couldn’t agree with his statements more. I wanted to share a story regarding a listing that went under contract in about two days recently.
On the evening of the last day of due diligence, the buyer’s agent came back with a request to replace the entire HVAC system for a total of $7,860.
The home inspection (they provided) stated that the unit “was in good working condition,” but then went on to say “as it is 18 years old, it has met the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced.”
I asked the agent by phone late that evening, with a smile of joy on my face, if she was familiar with the home inspector. She said, “No, it was just someone that the buyer found.”
I reminded the agent professionally that we don’t replace items that work. She said she understood that but said the buyer wanted a new HVAC system.
Well, I want a million dollars, but that doesn’t mean I am going to get that either, right?
What followed was an extension on due diligence, so I could get my trusted home inspector out there to look at the HVAC system. Please note that I use the words “trusted home inspector,” not because he tells me what I want to hear, but because I know he is competent — there is a trust factor there that he doesn’t miss things.
We have built that trust over years of working with this guy. Yesterday, we got his report back, and he stated that there was no vibration, no issues, the units were running smoothly and cooling correctly.
In fact, the unit was pumping out air in the 59- to 60-degree range. Just like the buyer’s home inspector, he, too, said the units were in good working condition.
We offered the buyer a warranty to give some peace of mind. Then, they asked us to give them something to guarantee that the units would be covered.
In addition to the inspection, we gave them a communication from a regional VP with the home warranty company who said, “Yes, our adjuster interpreted it as nothing actually failing right now. There has to be an actual, mechanical failure to the unit. However, since the inspectors said they are “in working condition,” no need for any repairs, yes they would be covered if they did fail.”
I felt I did my job for my seller, and in a reasonable world — laughable at best — this should have saved the sale because we went the extra mile to verify and reverify any concerns along with adding peace of mind — but the sale still fell through.
Once again, in the final hours at the end of extended due diligence, I received an email from the buyer’s agent that said: “My client does not want to move forward with a warranty and would rather the units be replaced after closing. He informed me tonight that he wants to terminate. He mentioned splitting the cost of the units. If that is something your sellers will consider, he will move forward and your seller can provide a credit at closing for half of the price.”
We accepted their termination agreement and release.
Many times you build your case, and you try and alleviate fears, but as I told the buyer’s agent, her client was not buying a new home. Just because they “wanted a new HVAC system” doesn’t mean they are going to get an almost $8,000 replacement or a credit off sales price for half of something that isn’t broken.
It didn’t work out because I am convinced the new agent wasn’t that reality check for her first-time homebuyer. Yet, I feel good about the fact that we didn’t get strong-armed into spending close to $8,000 on something that wasn’t an issue just because some random home inspector said they needed to be replaced based on the unit’s age.
This home will sell — I have no doubt. Whether your efforts work today on a given particular contract or the next one, your hard work is never lost. I will have my seller add this HVAC inspection to the seller property disclosure and update it.
Remember that continuous effort is what makes a successful agent — and always making your clients feel that you are looking out for their best interests even when the sale doesn’t close today.