How to Negotiate Repairs After a Home Inspection

how to negotiate repairs after a home inspection

You probably assume the real estate “deal” is done at the signing of the contract. Usually, it is. But in many cases, the negotiations really only begin at the signing. That’s because problems can arise after the home inspection. And those issues tend to result in another round of negotiations for credits or fixes. Here’s how to negotiate repairs after a home inspection.

1. Ask for a credit

As you move toward closing, the sellers are likely packing and dreaming of their life post-sale. The last thing they want to do is repair work on their old home. Even if they did, they may not approach the work with the same conscientiousness that you, the new owner, would.

If you take a cash-back credit at close of escrow, you can use that money to complete the project yourself. Chances are you may do a better job than the seller, too.

2. Think about the big picture

If you know you want to renovate a bathroom within a few years, you probably won’t care that a little bit of its floor is damaged, that there’s a leaky faucet, or that the tiles need caulking. These things will get fixed during your future renovation. But the repairs are still up for negotiation. Asking the seller for a credit to fix them will help offset some of your closing costs.

3. Keep your plans to yourself

A good listing agent will go on the property inspection with you, your agent and the inspector. Revealing your comfort level with the home or your intentions in the presence of the listing agent could come back to haunt you in further discussions or negotiations.

If the listing agent senses you’re uneasy with the inspection, they’ll be more willing to relay that to the seller. Conversely, if you spend two hours measuring the spaces and picking paint colors, you lose negotiation power. If you mention you’re planning a gut renovation of the kitchen, the sellers will certainly hear about it. And they’ll be less likely to offer you a credit to repair some of the kitchen cabinets.

4. Keep your eyes wide open

A word of caution: Never complete the original contract assuming you can and will negotiate the price down more after the inspection. It will come back to bite you, particularly in a competitive market.

If the property inspection comes back flawless, there’s nothing to negotiate. If you attempt to negotiate anyway—to recoup what you lost in the initial contract negotiations—you risk alienating the sellers and possibly giving them an incentive to move on to the next buyer.

You need to go into escrow with your eyes wide open. A real estate transaction is never a done deal until the money changes hands and the deed is transferred. Stay on your toes. Otherwise, you may risk losing out on further viable negotiation opportunities, which could lead to buyer’s remorse.

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