There have been more than a few transactions when my sellers were faced with an inspection repair list that took up three pages of single spaced, fine print, with demands that seemed to amount to rebuilding the entire home - and many of these homes were in more than good condition to begin with. The sellers, more often than not, went into overwhelm and refused to do anything.
Who needs these buyers anyway? Especially in this market.
All home inspectors have their styles, as do the buyer brokers who help their clients craft their to do list for the sellers.
Some focus on the important stuff - the major systems and appliances. Others note every nick in the paint, squeaky door hinge, burnt out light bulb and empty toilet paper holder.
My advice to my buyers is to stick to the important issues that you want the sellers to address.
- If the issue is something that the sellers disclosed to you before you made the offer, then you should have factored it into the price and terms of the contract. If it was not disclosed, or even hidden, then asking the sellers to fix it is completely reasonable.
- I put the electrical system at the very top of my list, because a failure could create total havoc.
- Any item that could present a serious health issue also makes the list.
- Plumbing can be important or not. Asking sellers to have leaks and drips fixed is usually reasonable, but I suggest my buyers leave off this type of repair for a bath or kitchen they plan to rip out and renovate.
- I consider it to be rude to put anything on the punch list that can be fixed with a bottle of WD-40.
- I've started to carry a test light bulb to inspections so we can tell if it's a bulb or the fixture.
Often, the request for inspection repairs sets the tone for the rest of the transaction. If you beat up on the sellers at this point, they will not look kindly on other requests that you might have to make of them down the line. What if something happens and you need an extension on the appraisal or financing deadlines? What if you have to come back and ask for a pre-settlement occupancy agreement?
And in many cases, unreasonable requests raise questions about good faith. Sometimes, especially if the buyers "won" a bidding war, they may appear to be trying to renegotiate the contract. Other times, the buyers may be sending a message that they want out of the deal. Even if you were to meet all of their demands, would they try to find another way to avoid buying?
If you are planning a move to or from the Washington area, I can help. I am licensed in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Please email me at Housepat@mac.com or call 202-549-5167.