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You’ve made an offer and the seller accepted. Your next step, the home inspection, either affirms that you’re buying a move-in ready home or a potential money pit.

Most repair issues found by home inspectors aren’t deal-breakers. Instead, they give a buyer a more in-depth look at possible future repair bills. A home inspection can also help a buyer negotiate a better real estate deal.

To learn how you can use your home inspection report to your advantage, read today’s post.

What Does a Home Inspector Do Anyway?

Buyers, and often their real estate agents, misunderstand the role of the home inspector.

First, the home inspector represents you—the buyer—not the seller or their agent, and not the lender. A home inspector is the most unbiased member of the buyer’s team because they neither win nor lose if the real estate transaction doesn’t close.

Your inspector will go over the home you’re buying with a fine-tooth comb. They look in every nook and cranny to help ensure you don’t have any major surprises after you move into the home.

Think of your home inspection as an information collection tool designed to give you a better understanding of the condition of the home. A home inspector looks for safety issues and defects.

Here’s an example of what home inspectors look for during the inspection.

Major vs. Minor Issues

If you’ve ever sold a home, you likely felt apprehension about the home inspection process. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to come back with a laundry list of repair requests after looking over the home inspection report.

From the buyer’s perspective, you want a home you can move into without spending a significant amount on repairs before you can even unpack your boxes. There’s a difference between major and minor issues found during an inspection.

Significant issues include things like suspected mold, faulty electrical systems, furnace issues, obvious sewer problems, and structural issues. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, it does point safety hazards inspectors note on their report.

Most home inspection reports also include any minor flaws. Cosmetic issues such as cracked floor tiles or a fence or deck in need of stain come under this category.

You will feel tempted to ask the seller to fix everything found during the inspection. Don’t do it! Next, we’ll cover which repairs make more sense for buyers to use as negotiation points.

What Repairs Can Break a Real Estate Deal?

Wouldn’t it be nice for sellers to fix even the tiniest home inspection issues before closing? Most sellers take care of maintenance items before listing the home, per their real estate agent’s advice. Many won’t commit to further minor repairs.

If your inspector uncovers issues with the mechanicals—heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical—those may pose safety issues. They’re all repairs you can reasonably request the seller take care of if they’re significant enough.

If you’re working with a lender, some repairs aren’t negotiable, and the lender won’t release funds until the seller, or you make the repairs. Non-negotiables in the lender’s eyes include structural defects, code violations, and other safety hazards.

Significant repair issues are those that harm your ability to live safely in your home today and in the future.

Avoid Nitpicking

Unless you’re a seasoned buyer, it’s easy to lose perspective during the home inspection process. Sometimes buyers use the inspection to present a punch list to the seller when the real purpose of the inspection is to assess the home for severe defects.

If you’re buying an older home, expect damage from wear and tear. You may not end up on the winning side of negotiations if you request too many minor repairs due to the history of the property.

When putting your negotiation strategy together, leave off repairs that will only set you back $100 or less. Nitpicky requests include:

  • Dents and Dings
  • Scuff Marks
  • Small Plumbing Issues
  • Loose Door and Cabinet Hardware
  • Broken Light Switches or Outlets

What about an aging water heater or HVAC system? If the inspector finds nothing wrong, it’s better not to request repairs/replacement solely due to age.

No Repairs Needed Before Closing

Unless you’re a first-time buyer, you’ve sold a home or two, and you understand that most sellers don’t have a huge bankroll to complete major home repairs. You still have options!

Requesting credit instead of repairs often makes more sense for both parties.

If the seller doesn’t have the money, you’re not likely to get them to agree to make expensive repairs. What you can do is request credit at closing. Credits come off of the amount the seller receives from the sale.

Closing credits can result in a win-win situation. The seller isn’t pressured to pay for repairs and possible delay closing. You come out ahead with both money and the ability to choose your preferred contractor and materials.

Another way you could approach negotiations based on your home inspection is to ask for closing costs. If the value of repairs equals or comes close to your closing costs, you’ll still come out on the winning side. However, you’ll need to research the cost for repairs—they may end up costing more than your closing costs.

Need to Schedule Your Home Inspection?

As you can see, a home inspection provides essential information for the buyer who wants to make sure they’re getting a safe home without taking on a bunch of costly repairs immediately after moving into their new home.

Always remember, the primary purpose of a home inspection is to detect flaws. A savvy buyer can use information from the inspection report to negotiate a better real estate deal.

If you’re entering into a real estate contract and need a home inspection, contact us today and schedule an inspection. We’re here to help you take the next step toward moving into your new home.