Home Repairs: What’s the Seller’s Job?
Buying a home can be a complicated process. There are many different elements buyers need to consider carefully, and it can all get confusing fast. One aspect of buying a home many aspiring owners wonder about is repairs and renovations. When you have your potential home inspected, the odds are good something will come up as needing attention. Do you ask the seller to make the change, or simply negotiate down the price? There’s no one right answer. Here’s a look at everything you need to consider when working with sellers:
If the issue in question is going to seriously affect the home’s livability, it often makes the most sense to ask the seller to fix the issue. For example, if your inspector flags the HVAC system, you’ll probably want that problem addressed before you move in. For most people, this will mean assigning the task to the seller.
If you have wiggle room on your timeline and are willing to take on the task yourself, however, you may be able to make your offer more appealing. However, make sure you thoroughly research what kind of HVAC system the house has so you know what kind of costs to take off the offer price. Installing a new furnace can cost as much as $6,149 — though mini-split and geothermal units will easily cost you double that amount. As such, it’s important to do a little legwork to determine which type of unit best suits your home.
When you’re debating whether to ask a seller to make repairs or simply negotiate down the price, make sure you consider the implications of both options. Sellers will often prefer to lower the selling price, as this makes the process faster and less work for them. If you have a particularly motivated seller, you may be able to lower the price substantially and get a much better deal. This means you’ll face smaller monthly payments for the lifetime of your loan. It also means you’ll accrue less interest, so more of that money will go toward the house itself.
However, if you don’t have the funds in pocket to handle the issue, this may not be a good call. Serious issues that need to be addressed quickly, such as partially finished flooring, will cost you money upfront. Make sure you factor this into your closing costs to get a full picture of what kind of expenses you can expect in your immediate future.
If you’re considering any homes that are being sold as-is, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. In these situations, you will be unable to ask the seller to make any changes to the home during negotiations (with the exception of serious safety issues, discussed further below). You’re buying the house exactly as it currently exists, no tweaks or upgrades.
Generally, these have a much lower price point, and you can always try to negotiate that price point lower if more issues come up on inspections than you anticipated. “As-is” offers can be attractive to a buyer who is willing to take on some work to make their dream home a reality. However, make sure you get the full picture before you move into the final stages of selling.
There are some things that come up in an inspection that the seller must address, no matter what. Any problems that are considered serious structural or safety issues or that violate building codes must be fixed before lenders will release the funds for sale. It’s important to get an inspector you can trust to check for these issues, as they can cause serious safety concerns — not to mention, they’ll become your responsibility if they’re missed in the sale.
Buying a home is an exciting process, but it also comes with a heavy dose of difficult decisions. Negotiations can be a stressful process, but remember to keep the big picture in mind. Find an option that works well for you, and hopefully, it will help you create your perfect home!
Written by Natalie Jones on behalf of Patrick Stracuzzi.