The home-buying process can be an extremely trying one, so when you get to the point where you're actually on the verge of buying a home, you probably feel like you’re nearly home free. After submitting an offer on a home and successfully achieving a signed agreement with the seller, your next big move will be to have a home inspection done on the property.
Having a home inspection done prior to signing the Purchase and Sale Agreement is key if you want to ensure that you’re getting what you’re paying for. A home inspection will bring to light any hidden issues in the home, which you'll put to use to further negotiate with the seller.
No home is perfect, and every home inspection will turn up issues. That’s why it is important to hire a qualified home inspector that you can trust to perform a thorough inspection and give you their honest opinion of the condition of the home. Don't just go with the cheapest company you can find. Also be sure to accompany the inspector on the inspection. In addition to learning about any issues, it gives you another chance to spend quality time in the home.
Here are some ways to proceed when a home inspection turns up issues:
Move forward with the deal as it was initially agreed upon, if the inspection only turned up minor issues or ones that you had anticipated when you made an offer on the home.
Get quotes from your own contractors, tally up the repair costs, and ask the seller for a reduction in the purchase price. This option allows you the ability to control who makes the repairs and ensures that the work will be finished to your liking.
Ask the seller to take care of any repairs prior to sale. If you go this route, make sure that you clearly document the exact repairs to be made and include deadlines in the Purchase and Sale Agreement. As the deadlines approach, request proof that the tasks have been completed, such as a receipt from a licensed plumber showing that the furnace was serviced.
Negotiate for some combination of the above options. Perhaps you can ignore some smaller issues in the home, but you ask the seller to repair the furnace and you also request a $5000 reduction in price because the roof needs to be replaced immediately.
Back out of the deal entirely if you find out that the home's issues are much more than you are willing or able to deal with. The issues in this case could be things like a seriously damaged roof or a heavy termite infestation.
As with all negotiations, you may not get everything you ask for. If it’s a seller’s market, the seller may refuse to make any of the changes at all, knowing that there are other potential buyers who will take your place. There are also times when the terms of the sale stipulate that the home is sold in “as is” condition, which is often the case with bank-owned properties. Your leverage options will decrease in these situations, but an experienced real estate agent can help you the best path of action.
In the end, this is just another negotiation step in the home buying process and both you and the seller will need to reach an agreement you are comfortable with before the deal will move forward.
Deirdre O'Connor with Dwell360 is a REALTOR® who services the cities and suburbs of metro Boston. She is focused on her customers and her experience in the residential real estate market is extensive. Search for homes in Massachusetts and then give Deirdre a call.