The real estate process includes several different negotiations. One of the most critical is negotiating home inspection results. If done properly, both buyer and seller will feel that they have been treated fairly and will be pleased to move forward with the sale process. If done improperly, it can leave a bad taste in one party’s mouth or even ruin the entire transaction altogether. If you’re planning on purchasing a home this year, keep these in mind as you approach the inspection phase.
Reviewing inspection results
As a home buyer, it important to remember that inspection reports contain a variety of information. In addition to highlighting issues or items needing repair, it also includes a series of recommendations or improvements. As you review a report, be sure to separate these two types of information and consider only issues in your negotiation strategy.
What to ask for, if anything
It’s rare to have a perfect inspection. Most inspections identify at least some minor issues. If you’re lucky, you will avoid any major ones. Make a list of everything that would be considered issues, and then weigh their importance. Asking for nit-picky items that you could easily or inexpensively fix yourself is often poor etiquette.
Instead, your best bet is to focus on more important items on the list. By making it clear that you are willing to take care of some items yourself, if only the seller would consider addressing the more important ones, you will come across as being a fair and reasonable buyer. Sellers are more likely to be accommodating in
Requests that kill deals
Certain requests from home buyers can really upset sellers, to the point where they may be less flexible or even unwilling to work with them any further. Here are a few examples of requests that buyers should try to avoid:
Requesting repairs to known issues – If an issue with clearly visible or previously disclosed by a seller prior to any offers being made, buyers should take those items into account when making their offer rather than trying to negotiate it after the home inspection.
Requesting upgrades – Just because an inspector recommends that you add gutters, upgrade the electrical, or perform some other improvements to a home does NOT mean that you can ask a seller to complete them for you. That’s really no different than asking a seller to upgrade a bathroom for you before closing! If those upgrades were already completed, the home would probably sell for more money. The current selling price reflects the current condition and features of the home, and that’s how the buyer should approach it. This also applies to older homes that may not be fully up to date on modern building codes.
Requesting cosmetic repairs – All homes have some cosmetic issues that may not look great but do not impact its function or usability. Asking a seller to address cosmetics is usually not considered reasonable.
Approaching inspection negotiations
A buyer who includes a long punch list of items that includes unreasonable requests is likely to elicit a negative response from a seller. That same seller may have gladly completed reasonable repairs, but after seeing such an unfair list, may end up being less accommodating. This ultimately does not help the buyer’s situation. By treating a seller fairly and respectfully, buyers are more likely to be treated as such in return.
Remember that every real estate transaction involves two parties, buyer and seller. A proper negotiation strategy takes that into account and allows both parties to feel good about the end result.
By Suzanne Plewes, RE/MAX Alliance in Loveland. Suzanne Plewes is a broker associate at RE/MAX Alliance. Write to 750 W. Eisenhower Blvd., Loveland, CO 80537, call 970.290.0373 or e-mail [email protected].