Home Selling 101, Part VI – Do you have to fix everything? Anything? The short answer is, no. But you might lose the sale. As I said previously, this is a negotiation. Inspection negotiations are just part of the process, and having good counsel from your lawyer and your broker is key. The buyer is looking to get as much out of the home purchase as possible. And you are hoping to get as much out of the sale as possible. But at the end of the day both of you want the deal to go through. This is where discussion with your attorney and with your realtor (you hired one, right?) is of great importance.
The standard contract actually limits what items a buyer should be able to request be repaired. Paragraph 12 of the current form contract states that “minor repairs and routine maintenance items” are not “defects” that are part of the inspection process. And the age of an appliance like a furnace or water heater “shall not render such component defective” so long as the appliance works as intended. So, technically, unless the contract has been modified by agreement, your Buyer cannot walk away from the deal because you did not agree to replace an old, but operable furnace, for example. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to work with a buyer regardless what they ask for. Indeed, sometimes agreeing to do the small “routine maintenance” items — things like securing a wobbly toilet to the floor — are inexpensive options that you can “trade-off” for not agreeing to bigger requests. It all has to be evaluated in the context of your transaction.
Some sellers get angry when they see a list of “defects” and take it as a personal insult. It’s not, but it feels like it. Talking with your attorney and your realtor can help you look at the issues objectively. Once you’ve evaluated the repair issues in the context of the transaction (is it a low-ball price and now they’re over-reaching? Is it a great price so you really want to preserve the deal?) you can decide how you want to respond.
In addition, many times the buyer will offer an either/or deal, such as repairs/or a credit or price reduction. Even if they don’t make that offer, you as the seller can respond that way, offering a credit of such and such amount for one or all of the items requested. Credits can be “iffy” though. A lender may get cold feet about a deal if there is a large credit or price reduction offered. All of this needs to be evaluated within the context of your specific deal.