Home Selling 101, Part 5 – Typical home inspection issues. An important thing to remember about your buyer’s inspection of your home: Don’t panic. Every inspection is unique, just like every home, but there are certain items that come up fairly often and some issues you should be aware of. First, most of the “form contracts” used in this area limit what kinds of things a buyer can require be repaired. Basically, only “defects” that threaten health, safety or the integrity of the structure are supposed to be raised. A part of the home that performs its intended function is not defective. An old water heater that heats water is not defective and does not have to be replaced. Items that do constitute health, safety and structural issues which often come up include: 1) replacement of older electrical outlets with ground fault interrupter outlets in wet areas like the kitchen or bathroom; 2) repair of foundation cracks or structural beams that may be damaged; 3) replacement of cracked windows; 4) repair or replacement of non-operating appliances. This list is not exhaustive but is meant to give you an idea of some common items. However, the inspection process is a negotiation, and buyers often request repairs that technically are not “health safety or structure” concerns. The buyer may be overstepping but you also have an incentive to keep the buyer interested, and so may choose to agree to such requests anyway. For instance, I have actually seen buyers ask for the seller to clear the gutters, and the seller agree. This is clearly not a health or safety concern, but a motivated seller agreed to the item, just to keep the deal moving. Sometimes you may want to offer a credit to the buyer or a reduction in price in an amount you both agree is sufficient to cover agreed repairs. As I said, this is a negotiation.
As mentioned in the prior post, your attorney should receive a letter from the buyer’s attorney listing any repair requests, along with a copy of the inspection report. At that point you will want to talk to your attorney, review the report, and decide how you want to approach this part of the contract process.