Negotiating Repair Requests From Sellers


Unless the home you’re buying is fresh off the builder’s hands, it’s likely going to have some blemishes, no matter how minor they may be. Ideally, you should have included a home inspection contingency in your purchase agreement, which will give you the opportunity to have the home inspected in greater detail.

Without a home inspection, you may end up with a house that’s riddled with issues that will cost you a lot in terms of time and money to repair. Instead, having the home scoped out by a licensed home inspector will give you a chance to have any unknown issues uncovered.

Once these items have been identified, you may choose to go back to the negotiating table. But how you approach these negotiations can make all the difference between a big dispute and a successful agreement.

Here are some tips for buyers when it comes to negotiating repairs after a home inspection.

Don’t Be Too Picky

Your inspector is obligated to identify any and all issues to you, and your home inspection report will come back to you with a list of every possible issue in the home. However, that doesn’t mean every single one of them needs to be repaired before you take possession. Going back to the seller and demanding that they fix every single one of the issues on the report – no matter how small – could put the seller off.

Instead, go through the list of repairs with your real estate agent and decide whether or not they warrant negotiation. For instance, fixing a loose handrail might be a valid concern and could be a subject for negotiation. However, replacing a one-foot square of grass in the yard probably isn’t.

Other issues might be so major that they might be too much for the seller to have to deal with, especially if the closing date is fast approaching. For instance, replacing an old HVAC system or roof are big jobs that can take a long time to fix. In cases like these, you may want to renegotiate the purchase price to cover the cost of you tackling these repairs yourself, which brings us to our next point.

Ask For the Purchase Price to Be Reduced


If the repairs that need to be made add up to the thousands, you might have a leg to stand on if you request a reduction in price. Be sure to have your real estate agent pull a list of recently sold homes in the area that are similar to the property you’re buying.

Let’s say you agreed to pay $520,000 for the home in question, but $15,000 will be needed to replace the HVAC system and roof. If similar homes in the area recently sold around the $500,000 mark, you should be able to make a solid case as to why the purchase price can be cut down to accommodate for the repairs that must be made.

Ask the Seller to Make the Repairs Before Closing

There’s always the option to request repairs to be made by the seller before the closing of escrow. Sometimes sellers may be open to this, especially if the requests aren’t too significant, such as changing light bulbs or tightening up loose door handles and knobs. However, you if you choose to go this route, expect some grumbling.

At this point, sellers are probably scrambling to get all their belongings packed up and organized for the big move, and making arrangements for their own new home.

Spending their remaining days in their home making repairs is probably the last thing on their minds. Even if they do agree to perform the work, they might not complete it with the same level of care and detail that you might.

Request a Credit For the Repair Work

Rather than requesting that repairs be done by the seller, you might want to consider asking the seller for a cash-back credit at closing. That money can then be put towards doing all the repairs yourself. Not only that, asking for a credit will cut down on all the back-and-forth bantering that’s typically involved in a negotiation process.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be surprised or alarmed when your home inspector comes back to you with a list of issues with the home that you plan to buy. And while you may have already negotiated the purchase price and other terms of the contract, the negotiations don’t necessarily stop there.

In fact, it’s quite common for buyers and sellers to make their way back to the negotiating table to iron out a few more details, and repair requests tend to be one of them. As long as you’ve got your real estate agent by your side, there’s no reason why a settlement can’t be reached that is satisfactory to both you and the seller.