By Gayle Rich-Boxman-Broker
A lot of buyers think that negotiating a price is the toughest part of a real estate deal, but once you have an inspection, quite often that is when the real negotiations can start! Inspections sometimes can make or break a deal.
A past inspector once said, “there are no perfect homes”. Remember, he or she is there to find what’s wrong with the home. I’ve had clients think that they should waive an inspection if it’s a brand new home, or if they’re trying to save money if a seller or the bank is selling “As Is” and won’t be doing any repairs anyway. My motto: Always get an inspection. It will be some of the best spent money you could imagine. That way, you know without a doubt what you’re getting yourself into regarding problems, big or small. And, if you’ve offered a reasonable price (or full price) and the inspection brings up many issues with the home, that’s a prime opportunity to renegotiate the price or get a credit at closing. This is where having a great inspector and a great realtor can be a tremendous help. I ALWAYS attend my inspections. I find that it’s much easier to understand what the inspector and buyer are talking about when going over any problem areas that will need to be addressed by the seller. I learn a great deal, too, so it’s time well spent. I believe that the buyer always appreciates the fact that you’re there for them as well. It also makes it much easier when writing up an addendum for repairs.
A good inspector will write up the report right then and there and go over it with my buyer(s) as soon as it’s completed, which I find saves a great deal of time. There may be questions about interior or exterior parts of the home, or electrical, or WHATEVER that the buyer may need to have pointed out again before leaving the home, as it may be unclear the first time they go through the home or the report, especially if they are a first time homebuyer. I suggest that the buyer follow the inspector around, too. This is their opportunity to get into the innerworkings of the home they’re purchasing, ask questions, or see exactly what the inspector means by “flashing” or missing GFCI plugs, or carpenter ants, etc. I suggest that the buyer leave a copy for the seller, too, even though they’ve paid for the inspection…a common courtesy that can be helpful when referring to certain items that a buyer wants to have repaired/replaced.
I personally feel that if a buyer has really lowballed a price on a purchase and the owner has accepted it and then there are many small items along with more serious issues that come up in the inspection, then, to me, it’s not fair to ask for most of them to be done at the expense of the seller. It’s my personal philosophy that “everyone wins”, even if there is compromise involved. I realize that not all of the real estate deals go that way, but ethically I try my very best to reach that goal each time. I do most of my deals representing both the buyer(s) and the seller(s) and have stayed true to my mission of everyone winning at the end….for most of my deals, while still remaining a mediator not showing favoritism, but being effective in communicating what will be in the best interest of all parties involved in the transaction. So….if you’ve gotten an incredible deal on the price, be cognizant of that “win” when you then approach a seller about taking more money out of his or her pocket.
I usually ask the buyer(s) to go home and go over the report and write in their own words what they’d like to have repaired, etc. I go over my copy of the report with them at the time and usually highlight the particular places where they show initial concern, but it does take some time to absorb and also, maybe even get over the initial shock of all of the faults the inspector has found with the home! If you can step away, clear your head and take a day or two to think about it, then what may have seemed big at the onset seems more “doable” after taking a fresh look and even doing some research or calling the inspector back the next day and reviewing things that were of particular concern.
A good inspector will also be a good communicator. There are many intricacies to what make a home well-built and I appreciate a person who can effectively explain to a wide variety of purchasers what needs to be fixed immediately, like a safety concern and what can be taken care of down the road, like a water heater that still has five years left on it. A good inspector and a good realtor can work in conjunction with the buyer as to how much and what is reasonable to ask for in a repair addendum. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because there are new rules/standards that come up all of the time and it is your money paying for his/her expertise for those few hours you’re there, so there are no stupid questions!