The most lovely couple you would have ever met had decided to purchase a house not far from our office and the time for inspection had arrived. I met Jeff out at the property, and he went about his business of crawling through every inch of the home (as a note I highly recommend you go with the inspector when they are looking at the house). At the end of the inspection Jeff and we talked, and he told us that everything was okay and that he would have the report to us that night. The news arrived, and to me, as a Realtor, it looked perfectly reasonable, however, as first-time homeowners the buyers were of a different mind and felt the house was ready to fall arround them. In the end, we drafted a request for repairs and started the process of the second negotiation in their home purchase.
Every home purchased through us will be recommended to undergo a home inspection by a licensed home inspector. These general inspectors are not specialized in any specific field, and because of this, they have not licensed electricians, licensed plumbers, general contractors, or someone who can install a roof. The home inspector will review the home for any material defect that can be found by observation and cursory examination by the skilled professional. If you have concerns about a specific item, then you need to voice these concerns and hire a specialist in that area. For instance, if you are concerned that the electrical wiring is not up to code and could be a health and safety hazard, then you need to have an electrician inspect the electrical system to know for sure.
With that in mind, the home inspectors do find most of the defects common to homes as they are sold and the most common defects found include:
- Some type of service of a door
- Fixing a faucet or faucet head
- Missing sealants on exterior of home
- Outlets wired incorrectly
- No GFCI where required
- Missing or broken smoke detectors (not always an inspection item)
- Cosmetic items
- Fixtures (lights, stoves, etc…)
- Caulk, grout, etc…
- Electrical panel issues
It is also not uncommon to find a roof or HVAC system that has not been recently replaced or repaired that is now in need of service. These last two items can be the most costly, and while they are items, the seller should have either mentioned in the description of the property or fixed before selling they will cause conflict when it comes time to request repairs.
The best thing to do when considering the repairs and deficiencies offered by the inspection report is to find which items are easily fixed by the buyer after moving in at low cost, which items are purely cosmetic or optional, and which items are deferred maintenance.
- If an item can be easily repaired by the buyer at a low cost, then it is often not worth the conflict and stress to include in the repair request to the seller. Asking the seller to replace missing light bulbs can make a $20 issue become a blown out fight at the closing table.
- If the item is cosmetic or optional then why is the buyer asking for this repair to be made now rather than accepting its current condition as part of the price of the house? If the house has a lime green door and nothing was mentioned about the door in the initial purchase contract then bringing it up as a repair item seems more to be covering oversight of the buyer’s agent than addressing a repair item. The negotiation for the price of the house included the very obvious color of the door.
- Deferred maintenance is the category where I will argue to the ends of the earth that they are the responsibility of the seller. These are items that should have been fixed while the seller was living in the home even if the seller chose not to sell the property. An example of this would be if a window were broken entirely out. Under what conditions would it be considered an ordinary course of events for a seller to continue living in the property with the window missing and broken?