Below are several tips on how to how to negotiate the home inspection and put yourself in the best possible position to get a great deal.
Keep your Renovation Intentions Quiet
Throughout the home search process, it is an important rule of thumb to keep your upgrade intentions to yourself. If the seller hears that you plan to remodel the kitchen, for example, he or she might be less likely to offer you a credit to repair the dated, scratched and squeaky kitchen cabinets.
Be sure to stay silent when speaking about your future home plans around the listing agent too, especially if they accompany you on the home inspection. If they hear you talk with your agent about how you do not mind replacing the stained carpets, of course they will tell the seller.
Finally, if the seller hears that you are planning on redoing their treasured family room or kitchen where their children grew up they may see you less as the heir to their beloved home and more as an interloper. You can go from adored buyer to despised in a heart beat if the seller thinks you are not going to cherish the same features of the house that they love so much.
Ask for a Credit
Remember that the seller is busy getting ready to move. Mr. or Ms. Seller typically does not want to begin new home repairs. In fact, the sellers may already have relocated. If they are moving out of state, they have some serious, stress-inducing weeks ahead of them, so issuing a repair credit is often easier than repairing the home directly.
For you as the buyer, a credit can be more beneficial for a few reasons. If you can live with the issue, as long as the property is safe, you can use the credit for something else more pressing in the meantime. For example, if the pool needs to be fixed and you are due to close in the middle of January, it might be better to use the credit to make upgrades in the kitchen. Regardless of when/if you decide to renovate, first-hand fixes give you options to personalize your home, especially with aesthetic upgrades.
You will need to work with your lender and your title company on the credits. In some instances, the credit will be a line item on the closing document paid by the seller to a specific contractor.
Consider Closing Costs Assistance
The sellers may also offer to cover closing costs on your behalf during the negotiations, which may be exactly what you want/need. However, you should get an independent estimate of what the repairs will likely cost so that you can confirm you are not getting shortchanged. The closing costs should be either equal to or greater than the estimated repairs or upgrades needed.
You may also find the seller more receptive to this option over others simply because they are dealing with their own moving stress and this can be a quick and easy way to resolve any outstanding negotiation issues. If you want closing costs paid on your behalf, by all means negotiate for this solution so all parties can move forward with the home purchase.
Be sure however to check with your lender about the amount of closing costs you can receive. If you are already receiving a closing cost credit as part of the initial sales contract, you may be limited in the amount of credit you can received. Believe me, leaving money on the table because you got too big a credit is a very sad thing at closing!
Asking for Repairs
Many buyers prefer to have the seller make the repairs before they move in. If you are a first time homebuyer or new to the area you may feel that you don’t have the resources of good contractors to make the repairs or your plate is already full and you just don’t have the time or the inclination to take on the repairs.
If repairs have been negotiated, make sure those performing the fixes are qualified to do so, especially for any major repair efforts that need to be completed! Be sure to ask for receipts. You are entitled to them. You can even take your inspector back to the house before closing for your final walk through to make sure the repairs were done correctly.