Most buyers and sellers understand that buying and selling a home requires negotiation. You give a little here, and they concede a bit there. But what do you do when you have a buyer who demands unnecessary repairs after a home inspection?
Educating buyers and setting expectations from the beginning is critical for successful repair negotiations. Buyers cannot understand which repairs are necessary and which might annoy the seller enough for the deal to shatter without the guidance of a real estate agent.
As important as it is to educate the buyers, it’s equally essential for the agent to understand the contract. Read it, dissect it, and understand it before explaining it to your buyer.
Here is a list of nine repair requests that buyers should think twice about before making.
1. Easily repaired items under $10
Whole house inspectors often come back with a list of items that cost under $10 to repair or replace. Save yourself the hassle, and omit these things from the list of requested repairs. As of late, I’ve seen many requests for switchplates and light bulbs. Really? I even had one agent argue that lightbulbs are safety issues. Again, Really?
If repairs are not related to a safety issue or the breakdown of an expensive system, you are not doing your client any favors by listing them on the repair request.
2. Replacement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Sometimes buyers are adamant they want missing smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors replaced.
Although these are safety items, unless local codes say differently, it is better if the buyer installs the smoke and carbon monoxide indicators after closing. That way, they can make an informed decision on the type of alarms they feel most comfortable using in their new home.
3. Cosmetic issues in a resale home
Unless the home is brand-new construction, advising your clients to note uneven paint or stained baseboards on a repair request is not a good idea. Neither are cracked switchplates, chipped mirrors or cracked tile.
Normal wear and tear should be expected in any resale home and should be a factor in the original price negotiations but should not be items requested for repair.
4. Repairs related to minor plumbing and electrical issues
Often, a whole-home inspector will list in the report issues with simple electrical and plumbing items such as an upside down outlet or corrosion on a fitting. Unless the problems cited are a safety concern, a buyer should not list them as a requested repair.
Simple issues such as an upside down outlet or a corroded fitting are DIY or handyman repairs that can easily be handled post-closing.
5. Repair of hairline cracks in the basement or driveway
Concrete expands and contracts naturally, and over time, cracks will occur. As long as the cracks are minor, don’t list them in a request for repairs.
However, if the breaks are over a quarter inch, it’s an excellent idea to have a structural inspection. Structural cracks are a whole new ballgame.
6. Outdoor landscaping, porch and fence repairs
These items were visible at the initial showing and will be a factor in the initial offer and negotiations.
It’s not a good idea to ask for things that were obvious at the beginning, such as sod replacement, fence restoration, loose railings or loose hinges. It’s also not a good idea to include a request for the removal of overgrown plants or trees even if they are touching the house. The buyers can do that after closing. Then, they can be trimmed in a manner appealing to the new owner.
7. Replacement of failed seals in windows
Unless the window is under warranty, most sellers will refuse to fix a failed seal. Window seals fail over time with use, and depending on the age of the window seal, failure can be expected.
It’s another simple fix, and sometimes you need to choose your battles.
8. A new furnace, air-conditioner or water heater because they are old
If the HVAC system or water heater is working properly, the age does not matter. Buyers cannot request the replacement of a functioning system. They can order an additional inspection (if they are still within their inspection period) and ask for repairs if they are needed, but that is it.
If the age of the HVAC or water heater was not disclosed or disclosed in error before going under contract, you could request a concession, but the sellers do not have to give it to you.
9. Roof repairs for a roof that is free of leaks or structural damage
This is a bit of a gray area because sometimes roofs are very old and free of leaks but hard to insure due to age. If you suspect the roof might be at the end of its lifecycle, agree to how the roof will be handled pre-inspection before going under contract. If you don’t, you might have an angry buyer without much recourse.
For all items on this list that your buyer would like to have fixed and are not safety or related to the failure of an expensive system can be included in a request for credit at closing.
Sellers are more likely to agree to a $300 credit for the buyer to replace 30 $10 items than they will to repair or replace the 30 issues themselves.