Negotiating Repairs: Best Practices for Home Sellers

When selling your home, navigating buyer repair requests after a home inspection can be daunting. You've maintained your home for years, and now a buyer's repair request feels like an unexpected hurdle. Understanding how to negotiate a buyer's repair request effectively can save you thousands and ensure your timeline to close stays on track. Let's review what is often included in a buyer's repair request, how to handle it, and best practices to ensure a smooth transition to your next destination.

Understanding the Home Inspection Checklist

A home inspection checklist is thorough, often including over 1600 points. The inspector examines major components and even minor cosmetic details. This comprehensive approach can seem overwhelming, especially when minor issues like a burnt-out light bulb are flagged. However, it's essential to recognize that what might seem trivial to you could be significant to the buyer.

What is a Repair Request After a Home Inspection?

A repair request after a home inspection is a formal document where the buyer asks the seller to fix certain issues before closing the sale. These requests can range from minor cosmetic repairs to major system overhauls. It's important to differentiate between what you must fix and what can be negotiated.

Cosmetic vs. Needed Repairs: Buyers often ask for cosmetic repairs, but as a seller, you're not typically obligated to fix these blemishes. Focus on major repairs that affect the home's functionality and safety. For instance, a leaky faucet is minor, but a faulty HVAC system is significant.

Negotiating Home Repairs: Best Practices

Negotiating home repairs requires a strategic approach. Here are some best practices:

  1. Keep Minor Repairs Minor: If the repair request list is extensive, prioritize major repairs and negotiate minor ones. Cosmetic issues like paint or small cracks can often be negotiated off the list or offered as seller credits in lieu of repairs.

  2. Hire Licensed Professionals: For major repairs, always hire licensed professionals. This ensures the repair is done correctly and provides documentation that can be shared with the buyer while minimizing your liability. For example, if your HVAC system needs servicing, hire a certified technician and keep the receipt. 

  3. Understand Major vs. Minor Repairs: Major repairs typically include issues with HVAC systems, roofing, plumbing, and electrical systems. Minor repairs might include small cracks, paint touch-ups, or leaky faucets. Addressing major repairs, especially those tied to health and safety regulations, is could be mandatory depending on the buyer's loan type.

  4. Health and Safety Repairs: Certain repairs are mandatory, especially if the buyer uses FHA or VA loans with specific health and safety standards. Ensuring your home meets these standards is essential for the sale to proceed smoothly.

Be Prepared for Major Repairs

Expect to address significant repairs highlighted in the home inspection report. These could include issues like:

  1. Roof Damage: Any leaks or structural damage must be repaired.

  2. HVAC Systems: Both heating and air conditioning systems should be operational.

  3. Electrical Systems: Wiring and electrical panels should be up to code.

  4. Plumbing Issues: Leaks, water heater problems, and other plumbing issues need fixing.

Addressing these repairs ensures the home meets lending guidelines and provides peace of mind to the buyer.

"Take It or Leave It" Mindset

Adopting a "take it or leave it" attitude towards repair requests can backfire. If the buyer walks away, you'll need to disclose any material defects with your property and possibly the inspection report to future buyers, potentially complicating future negotiations. Instead, approach repair requests with an open mind and a willingness to negotiate.

Financial Resources vs. Time Constraints

If you're short on time but have financial resources, consider offering a repair credit instead of completing the repairs yourself. This credit can be applied to the buyer's closing costs, making it an attractive option for both parties.

Common Repairs Buyer's Request Sellers Fix

After understanding the inspection report, you'll often find recurring issues that need addressing:

  1. Leaky Faucets: Often a simple fix but important to the buyer.

  2. Running Toilets: Usually resolved with a new flapper valve.

  3. Reverse Hot and Cold Taps: Easily fixed but important for functionality.

These common issues are typically minor but can be significant in the eyes of the buyer.

For a comprehensive list of common home repairs, visit Family Handyman’s Guide.

Preparing for the Home Inspection

Preparing your home for the inspection can minimize repair requests. Here are some tips:

  1. Declutter: Make all areas accessible.

  2. Address Minor Issues: Fixing minor issues like loose doorknobs or burnt-out light bulbs can reduce the number of repair requests.

  3. Clean Thoroughly: A clean home creates a positive impression.

Navigating repair requests after a home inspection requires a clear understanding of what needs to be fixed and effective negotiation strategies. Focus on major repairs, hire licensed professionals, and be prepared to offer repair credits if necessary. By following these best practices, you can ensure a smoother transaction and move confidently toward your next destination.

Remember, the goal is to maintain an open and honest dialogue with your listing agent and the buyer's agent to find mutually agreeable solutions. This collaborative approach will help you close the deal successfully and confidently move on to your next chapter.

For more insights and tips, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel.

Please contact me if you plan to buy or sell a home in the Las Vegas, Nevada region. 

Thank you for reading. Peace be with you. 

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