Negotiating After a Home Inspection: How to Get the Best Deal
If you’ve been looking to buy a new house, make sure you know these best practices to negotiate the best deal after the home inspection!
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Buying a home can be a long and arduous process. From setting a budget to choosing the right neighborhood, there are a seemingly endless number of factors to consider. Reaching the point where you have agreed upon an offer may seem like the end of it, but there is still one step to take to ensure you get the most out of your money-- the home inspection.
Some people say that you should waive your home inspection as it looks more appealing to the seller. If there is one note you take away from this article, don’t. Experts highly recommend completing a home inspection to ensure the house you are looking to buy has no outlying problems such as structural damage or HVAC issues. If it does, it could end up costing a fortune.
If this all sounds confusing to you, don’t worry. Purchasing a house and all of the complexities that come with it can be a lot to digest. Hopefully, this article can be of some assistance in simplifying the process. This article will:
- Break down the home inspection process
- Provide some tips on what to expect after the home inspection
- Give you the best tips to negotiate the best deal for you
Getting your facts straight
What is a home inspection
Simply put, a home inspection is a detailed look-over of a house’s major systems. This could be anywhere from the foundation to plumbing, and everything in between. The main point of a home inspection is to give the potential buyer (or seller if they are inspecting it for repairing purposes) an accurate depiction of what safety issues will need to be addressed and repaired.
Getting a home inspected you are looking to buy can potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars. The average cost of a home inspection is around $400 for a typical sized home. This seems like a pretty small price to pay if it ends up saving thousands.
When do I get a home inspection?
Home inspections begin during the pending sale period after the seller has accepted the buyer’s offer. Just because they have accepted the offer, does not mean you are locked into the sale. You have the right to have the home inspected by hiring your own home inspector, but this is usually done by the lender anyway. Once the inspection process is completed, it will usually take a week or so until the report is sent back.
Being present for home inspection
Many people are unsure of whether they can or should attend the home inspection. The answer is yes, you should! By being there in person you are able to get a better understanding of any potential issues with the house. You can also get first-hand explanations from the inspector on what issues you may face with the house.
Remember, home inspectors go through a certification process meaning that they are knowledgeable on the subject at hand. Be sure to ask as many questions as you can and soak up any advice they give you! They can provide crucial information to utilize during the negotiation process that comes after a home inspection.
What to do after the home inspection
Typical home inspection findings
Home inspections in different areas can include different checklists. But for the most part, a home inspector will check the safety and status of:
- HVAC systems including water, ventilation, and air conditioning
- Floors, walls, and ceilings
- Windows and doors
- Basement and structural components
What do home inspections not check for?
It is just as important to know what home inspectors do not check for as it is to know what they do. In order to avoid taking on repair costs yourself, be sure to remember they do not check for:
- Landscaping/yard condition
- Swimming pool
- Evidence of pests
- Floor coverings such as tile
Essentially, home inspectors will not be looking at anything that does not affect the structural integrity of the house. Most of these facets you would have already looked at when touring the house, but it is still an important piece of information to remember.
Analyzing the home inspection
Once you get the home inspection report, you need to analyze what the inspector found. If there were little to no repairs deemed necessary, great! You can skip the rest of this article and proceed with purchasing the house.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Most houses will be in need of some kind of repair, whether it be minor or major. Calculate all of the repair costs that are going to be necessary to make the house livable. Try grouping the necessary safety issues that would impede your ability to live in the house and calculate those. Once you have a number, you’ll have a solid idea on what you’d be looking to pay after closing the house if you cover them yourself.
What fixes must be done after inspection?
Legally speaking, there are no mandatory repairs that must be completed after a home inspection. That being said, major issues that could pose safety issues are usually required to be fixed by the lender before financing.
Most of the issues brought to light from a home inspection are must fixes anyway. The structural integrity of the house is of utmost importance, especially if you plan on raising a family within it. While you may not legally have to fix the broken air conditioner with exposed wires hanging out, it’s probably a good idea.
Negotiating tips to get the best deal
Establish must haves
An important distinction to draw before actually negotiating is what repairs or concerns do you need to have addressed by the seller to consider going through with the purchase. By tallying up all of these concerns, you can get an accurate representation of what you’re asking of the seller. If you find that the cost of repairs you’re deeming ‘necessary’ of the seller is high in comparison to the cost of the house itself, you may need to rethink what is necessary for you.
Something to think about when establishing must haves is whether a certain repair will remove your ability to occupy the house. If there is serious damage to the foundation of the house, repairs are going to be necessary and you won’t be able to live at the house while it’s fixed. Repairs like this often go under the ‘must have’ category as it is more reasonable for the seller to fix it due to the high cost. If they refuse, be sure to get a significantly better price or get out of there!
If you are purposely buying a fixer-upper with the intention of repairing it, then your ‘must haves’ category will likely be different than someone trying to move in as soon as possible.
In any business deal, it is always important to remember to be realistic. The seller wants to reach a fair deal just as bad as you do. To reach this deal more smoothly, come into the negotiation with a reasonable offer but certainly don’t give that offer first.
If possible, try to ask what repairs the seller would be willing to front before stating what you would need to go through with the purchase. This gives you more leverage within the deal and is generally a good business practice.
Create deals that favor you
This is where you get to be creative with whatever the home inspection report returned. Perhaps there was an issue with the electrical and plumbing in the upstairs bathroom. On top of that, all of the windows in the house had sealing issues and were in need of replacement. With the information given, you could propose a deal in which you handle the bathroom repairs and the seller handles the windows.
By creating deals where both parties seem to benefit, a deal can be reached much more quickly. On top of that, the analysis mentioned earlier would have provided you with the cost of the different repairs. This allows you to group repairs in whatever fashion you’d like to ensure the numbers work in your favor!
Ask for credit
An alternative to asking the seller to complete the repairs would be to ask for credit. In this case, the seller would give you an agreed amount of credit that would go towards the repairs after the purchase. This is an easy workaround if you’d like to complete the repairs yourself but don’t find it fair that you’d have to pay for them given the asking price or a number of other factors.
There are even benefits for the seller if they decide to give you credit. They give the buyer more initiation to make the purchase and can be a deal-closer for the negotiation. On top of that, they wouldn’t have to go through the procedure of repairing the house themselves, or outsourcing it to an outside company which can be a long process.
If you’re trying to get moved into the house as soon as you can, staying flexible will certainly help speed up the process. Some sellers will have certain demands that may seem unreasonable, especially if the seller has a personal attachment to the house.
Remember that both parties want to reach a deal. The seller wants to get the value for their house just as bad as you want to move into it! By staying flexible, the negotiation process becomes much easier.
This doesn’t mean you have to give into any outlandish demands or that you have to throw out any of the ‘must haves’ mentioned earlier. Simply try and reach a reasonable agreement that works well for everyone involved.
Walk away if need be
This is likely the most important tip to remember when trying to negotiate a deal after the home inspection.
A fair deal cannot always be reached.
If the seller refuses to front repairs that you believe should fall under their responsibility, do not buy it! It can be frustrating to give up on a house, especially after finding one that fits all of your needs. This frustration, however, doesn’t mean that you have to take the first deal offered to you. Be patient and try to work with the seller.
If an agreeable set of terms cannot be established, walk away!
The home inspection is one of the most important aspects of the home buying process. It can save you a ton of money by spotting repairs you may have otherwise not spotted. It is also a great leveraging tool to use for negotiating a deal that benefits you. Most importantly, it ensures that the house you are buying is a safe environment to live in, which is especially important for new families.
With the help of these useful negotiation tips, you will be on your way to becoming a new homeowner in no time. Better yet, you won’t have to break your bank to do it!
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