How to Handle the Request for Repairs When Buying a Home

Originally posted on October 15, 2011

Home Buyer Repair RequestWhen buying a Los Angeles home be prepared to put on your negotiating hat.

When you are caught up in the emotion of buying a home you may forget that there is another side to the process, the Seller.  Generally each side is trying to get the best deal for his or herself and is not always considering the other party.   Arriving at an agreed upon sales price is only part of the process, equally important is what comes next.  Even though a home is listed with the caveat “as is”, that really does not mean much.  Almost every Seller expects that they are going to receive a request for repairs.

The Request for Repairs

In Los Angeles it is required that a buyer conduct a home inspection or waive their right to one.  The standard time allotted for the buyer to do his or her due diligence is 17 days.  As a good faith tactic during contract negotiations this is often lowered to 10 days and sometimes even 7 days.  This is generally enough time to have your inspector come out to the property and also to order any additional inspections that may be suggested.  Once these inspections have been completed and you have the report(s) in hand, you will sit down and discuss your request for repairs  with your real estate agent.  And once the request is submitted the clock stops and the ball is in the Seller’s court.

You are now back to your previous position of possibly where you should consider that there is another side to this transaction.  The Seller.  Get your negotiating cap back out and think about the following:

What should you ask for?

When you look at your home inspector’s report you are going to see so many items for repair noted that your head will spin and you might think the house is about to fall down.  But understand that many of them are a symptom of the age of the house and are normal wear and tear, and may not be items for major concern.  The most common I see are:

  1. Electrical panels needing upgrade
  2. Electrical outlets not up to code
  3. Plumbing leaks
  4. Dripping toilets and faucets
  5. Cracks in walls
These are generally minor items that are probably not going to cost much to repair. And remember the previous owner has been living with them for awhile.
Major items of concern might be:
  1. Foundation cracks or lack of bolting
  2. Cracks in the chimney
  3. Wear showing on the roof
  4. HVAC that may need replacing
These items can be expensive to repair or replace.

Did you offer full price?

If you did then asking for all the items of major concern to be replaced may be the place to start.  You may get a positive answer to all or most of them.

Did you get the house for a little less than asking?

You might want to leave an item or two out of your request for repairs.  Asking for everything might get you a no on all.  Asking for selective repairs might get you all of them, but you should at least get some.

Did you pay significantly less than asking?

If so, you are probably not going to get much in the way of repairs.  Remember, the Seller is already losing and is not likely to give up more money.  So, when you do get the home for a good price be of the mindset that this probably will not come with repairs.  Think of it as having negotiated your repairs up front.

I know homes have fallen out of escrow over the request for repairs not being agreed to by the Seller, but if both parties can put themselves in the other side’s shoes, there can be a successful outcome.  Again, it is all about the negotiations.

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