Negotiating After Inspection

Negotiating the Best Deal After a Home Inspection

By SaleCore

When an offer to buy a home is accepted, it can be easy for both the buyer and seller to feel that they’re safely at the finish line. The acceptance of an offer brings the deal much nearer to the closing table, but there are still important steps the transaction must go through before the deal is complete. Typically, a buyer’s offer comes with some contingencies, the most common being Contingent Upon Home Inspection. A home inspection is conducted by a licensed professional who evaluates the property from top-to-bottom to identify any parts of the home that are out-of-code or in need of repair/replacement, and provides the buyer with a detailed report of the home’s structure, plumbing, electrical, foundation, roof, etc. Home inspection clauses allow a buyer to back out of a deal without losing their deposit if the home inspection results are not satisfactory. If the buyers still want the home, they will begin the negotiation process.

Negotiation after a home inspection takes preparation and a level head. Although it can be a stressful process, both parties have a vested interest in coming to an agreement. The following guidelines will help to prepare you for the negotiation to get the best value for your home.

Knowledge is power - lightbulb floating above hand palm face up

1. Knowledge is Power

As with any negotiation, be as prepared as possible. Do your research. What does the local market look like? Are you purchasing in a buyer’s or a seller’s market? If it’s a seller’s market, be wary of asking for too much. If the seller has received multiple offers, then you don’t have much leverage when asking for too many repairs. In addition, get a copy of the maintenance and repairs documentation for the home from previous years. You want to be confident in the home that you’re buying, and not held responsible to pay for expensive repairs.

Realistic goals - Notepad with goals

2. Realistic Goals

Buying a home sparks many emotions. So while it is good to come in with high aspirations, be sure to take a step back and assess how much you want this house. Is this the home of your dreams? Are the repair costs outrageous or manageable? You may want to compromise on more minor issues, or let some things go in favor of achieving your goal. Your agent can recommend where it’s best to press and what’s realistic to accomplish. For smaller issues, think of some alternatives that would be acceptable to you, such as arranging for the seller to leave certain appliances with the home.

Negotiation tactics - group of four people negotiating at table

3. Negotiation Tactics

While every situation is different, the buyer and seller may split some – or all – of the repairs that appear on the inspection report. Plan to go into the negotiation with an open mind and a framework so you can close the deal on the house you want without having to pay for a multitude of repairs.

  • Understand the Seller: The worst way to communicate with a seller is by demanding that they pay for repair costs. Take a collaborative approach to negotiating, rather than a winner takes all kind of mentality. Present your requests as solutions that benefit both you and the seller in finalizing the sale transaction, while maintaining focus on your goal.
  • Be Reasonable: More often than not, you will get much of what you ask for as long as your requests are reasonable. Put yourself in the seller’s shoes and consider what you would agree to if you were them. If your demands are unreasonable, they could refuse them altogether. When buyers start to overstep their bounds is often when real estate transactions go awry. Buying and selling a home is all about being reasonable.
  • Prioritize Repairs: A home inspection report reveals issues, both large and small. When reviewing the list, break it down into categories:
    • Major, significant issues that will be extremely expensive to repair
    • Issues that are not overly costly, but also not cheap
    • Minor, less significant issues that are not of immediate importance
    When it comes to minor issues, it’s usually best to let most of them slide in the interest of closing the deal. When it comes to major issues, like sagging foundations, a decrepit roof, malfunctioning HVAC systems, or mold, you should seek some form of concession from the seller. As a buyer, it is advised to take a credit rather than let the seller oversee the work. Your expectations are most likely very different than the seller’s, so it is best to negotiate a credit so that you have extra funds to put towards the work. Time is often of the essence for both parties in a real estate transaction, so getting a reduction in price to compensate for the cost of repairs is often preferred by all. Consider gathering quotes from contractors to gauge how much you’ll need if you agree to take a price reduction in lieu of the seller making repairs.
When to stop negotiating - a man and a woman shaking hands

4. When to Stop Negotiating

If you focus on the major issues and position it as a partnership, and the repairs as an “investment” in the deal, you’ll have a much higher rate of success. Remember, your goal is to get the house you want, while being flexible and reasonable. You could be putting your deal in jeopardy over small, petty items that are meaningless in the grand scheme. When the big ticket items are settled, it’s time to stop negotiating and go for the close.

When to walk away - person holding up No Deal sign

5. When to Walk Away

Even if you love the house, and despite your best efforts, sometimes a deal cannot be salvaged. If you can’t reach an agreement with the seller regarding the repairs, the home inspection contingency clause in your contract means you can walk away from the deal without penalty. The last thing you want to do is to put yourself into a situation where your new home is draining every last dime from you. In that case, your best alternative is to walk away and find a house without so many needs.

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