So, after months of searching, you’ve found your ideal home in the perfect spot, the contract is signed and you’re ready to go. But, there’s one more major thing you have to do – get the home inspection done!
At this point, you are getting an expert in to have a detailed look at your new home, and to see what needs to be done. It may sound like a chore you don’t need, but in fact it may save you some serious money.
The payment for the house will likely be in escrow right now, and will stay there until you are satisfied that you have a deal that is fair and right, so what is your plan of action when the inspection has taken place?
Before we look at our top tips for negotiating once the inspection is done, here’s a few things to think about when you come to engage the services of a home inspector.
Finding a Home Inspector
First things first, it’s entirely possible – indeed quite likely – that one home inspector will miss problems that another uncovers. This is why we advise very strongly that you seek a home inspector with the very highest credentials.
Also, make sure that you have a good look around the house in advance of the inspection, and list any obvious faults or problems that you can see. Don’t be afraid to point these out to the inspector, as we also advise you to attend when the inspection is taking place.
Your real estate agent may recommend a home inspector; this is all very well, but you should still check them out and be sure that you are comfortable with them doing your inspection.
By now, you may well have signed on the dotted line; you should never do this in the belief that your home inspection report will allow for you to make further reductions. Remember, it is not unheard of for a home inspection report to show up no defects, in which case you are held to the original agreed price.
So, what do you need to do now that you have seen your inspection report? Here’s our advice:
1: If There Is Work to be Done, Negotiate Credit
When you get the report from the inspector, you have two courses of action for any work that needs to be done. You can either ask the seller to facilitate the repairs, or you can request credit for them, and do them yourself.
Now, think of it this way: the deal is very close to being finalised, and the sellers are eager to get out and move on. The last thing they want to be doing is repairs on the old house. They may be careless in the way they perform the repairs, which means you will be left with further repairs in the near future.
Also, there are many horror stories of requested repairs that, as it turns out, you were told had been done but in fact had not. If, for example, you ask for the air conditioning unit to be serviced, make sure you get the paperwork saying it has been done.
2: Be Careful What You Say
Your home inspection may well be done in the presence of yourself and perhaps your real estate agent. Remember, they are inspecting the home as it is being sold – not as you intend it to be when you have put your plans into action.
What we mean by this is that if you are already set on replacing, for example, the bathrooms, don’t tell the agent – or anyone involved. If the seller knows you are going to completely replace fixtures that are in need of repair, then they are not likely to afford you a credit for them.
On the other hand, if they don’t know, it could be a great way of getting yourself some extra money off! Don’t try and be too greedy, but do remember that nobody else needs to know what you are going to do with the house once it becomes yours.
3: Keep A Close Eye
Following on from the above, you need to make sure you keep a very close eye on even the most minor faults, as all are open to negotiation.
For example, you might not be planning to redecorate and renovate that disused bedroom just yet, but the seller doesn’t need to know that. As far as they are concerned, you’re going to use it straight away, and you may not be happy with the state of the floors, or other fittings.
This is another area in which you can negotiate credit, and it’s money that you can either use on your immediate plans, or put away for when you do get around to future renovations.
Be Fair and Be Polite
The sale and purchase of a home both represent major events in each party’s life. Both are also times when tensions can be strained. In the vast majority of cases, the seller believes they are selling you a house in good condition. It can be difficult to find out that, in fact, there is work that needs to be done before the sale can go through.
It pays for you – the buyer – to be courteous and polite when negotiating repairs or credit. The seller can in fact refuse to repair or to credit if they do not think it fair. However, as most requests are for fairly minor items or for servicing on systems, the process is usually a straightforward one, and it is in the interests of both parties to come to a fair and proper agreement.
If you want advice on finding a home inspector, or on negotiating, there is plenty of information to be found, so take your time and get the best possible deal.