If you are a home inspector or agent, chances are that you’ve had at least one extremely picky, perfectionistic buyer. This is the buyer who nitpicks on every little blemish and imperfection on the property, insisting without end that it is the seller’s responsibility to repair all. Sometimes, the buyer is simply misinformed; in fact, what constitutes a reasonable request following the home inspection is a rather common question. Although there isn’t a standard of what is and isn’t reasonable, there are some generally agreed-upon guidelines.
When it comes to requesting repairs on a home, it is important to choose your battles and choose them wisely-especially in today’s home market. It would certainly be wonderful to have every one of your new home’s downfalls handled before you’ve even put money down, but it is not realistic or fair to expect this of the seller. Your seller can and will walk if they find you too needy or unreasonable; they will find another buyer. Some home buyers use their home inspection report to create a sort of demands list of everything they expect the seller to fix; this is not the purpose of a home inspection. The purpose of a home inspection is to check for severe structural of mechanical defects. The issues you want to be repaired by the seller should be severe enough that they could negatively impact your use and enjoyment of the home. Electric, plumbing, roof, and HVAC are all repairs that under most circumstances you could reasonably expect a seller to cover, as well as wood-destroying insects and elevated radon levels.
A home inspection is also not mainly to be used to negotiate your offer to purchase with the seller. Simply put, if you noticed clearly visible issues with the home before you made your offer, do not expect the seller to fix them. A decent buyer’s agent should be able to coach you on what issues are worth focusing on, and which are considered more trivial. If your agent simply submits your requests to the seller without offering you their opinion, you should be wary. You want your agent to give you their educated opinion, not agree with everything you say.
If you want to make it through to closing, there are a couple of repairs you should absolutely avoid asking for. Cosmetic issues, such as chipped paint, minor caulking issues, or a small normal crack in the basement floor. These are very small problems that you can likely fix yourself relatively easily without spending a lot of money. Repairs under a hundred dollars typically fall into this arena as well; if you can fix it cheaply and easily yourself, then do it yourself. Another repair to avoid is minor water damage and nonfunctional light switches/sockets. As water damage tends to be glaringly obvious, you are unlikely to miss it the first time you walk through the house. Luckily, this means the home inspector will also see it, and he or she will inform you how severe the problem is. If the water damage is severe, the inspector will tell you and you can then request appropriate repairs; however, if the water damage is only cosmetic, it’s nothing to be stressed about. Electric in a home can be rather touchy. They may stop working altogether if a wire comes loose or a part wears out, but they aren’t necessarily signs of a larger electric problem. Your home inspection will let you know if the electrical in the home is safe to use. (be aware that home inspections are not coded inspections)
Finally, external buildings are another repair you should forget about. Sheds and garages are prone to getting dirty, sheds are prone to rot, and homeowners-all homeowners-tend to allow these external buildings to get run down more so than the main house. You also probably knew about the external building’s condition before you submitted your offer on the home. Outbuildings are often not in the scope of the home inspection. If there is a larger outbuilding that you want to be inspected then be certain to add that to the inspection request when scheduling the inspection.
If you’re a buyer in the middle of negotiating a home inspection, just be reasonable. If you’re the homeowner, understand how you should prepare for a home inspection. During the negotiation, there is going to be some give and take for both of you; you must compromise. The best person to help you navigate the request to remedy is your agent. They will have far more information in regards to the purchase agreement and perhaps even the room the seller has to negotiate.