In an odd quirk of timing, we’ve had two listings in the inspection period at the same time this week.
In a previous article, Francy did a great job of covering the inspection period from the buyer’s perspective. That post covers the what’s, why’s and how’s, including the time periods generally allowed for inspections and responses (in Arizona. It may well be different in other states).
What about the seller’s perspective of the inspection period?
A home inspection is a stressful time, for both home buyer and seller. No buyer wants to buy a home that needs repairs, and no seller wants to be faced with a daunting and potentially expensive list of repair requests.
In the buyer’s market that we currently face in Phoenix, home buyers are clearly in a position to request more repairs than they would in a neutral or sellers market. It’s just the nature of the beast, and is something sellers need to understand, preferable before they get the buyers repair request.
Separate your emotions from the transaction. It’s difficult, but critical.
Selling a home is an emotional experience. It’s important and exceedingly difficult for a home seller to set their emotions aside. Every seller wants to maximize the dollars they receive, and of course the buyers want to minimize the dollars they spend. This puts buyers and sellers at a natural opposition to each other. In a sick and twisted sort of way, it’s also one of the things that makes being a real estate agent fun and rewarding. Getting opposing parties to come to agreement in an emotionally charged event is not as easy a task as many perceive it to be.
So what should a seller do when they receive a list of requested repairs?
First, take a deep breath. Understand that professional home inspectors are paid and trained to find and document a wide variety of items. Neither the inspector nor the buyer are saying, “Your home is a falling down piece of crap”. The inspector is just doing his job, and the buyer is just trying to protect their future interest. You can get your garage door repaired by this company in Surrey. A list of items in need of repair is not a condemnation of your ability to maintain your home. If the inspector says that you have a problem with the sewer drain, have Sewer Drain Repair services immediately.
Typically, the inspection period lasts 10 days. Most buyers utilize the entire inspection period before delivering to the seller a list of requested items to be addressed. And typically, the seller has 5 days to respond.
In Arizona, you as a seller have three basic options:
- You can agree to the entire request
- You can decline the entire request
- You can agree to a part of the request
And here are the potential ramifications of those decisions:
If you agree to the entire request for repairs, the escrow process moves forward ultimately to closing.
If you decline the entire request, the buyer can either 1) cancel the contract and get their earnest money back; or 2) accept the home “as is” and move forward to closing.
If you agree to address some, but not all, of the buyer’s request the buyer can either 1) cancel (with return of earnest money); or 2) move forward to closing.
Negotiations for repairs are somewhat limited. This is not something that goes back and forth several times. The buyer submits one request for repairs and the seller responds once. Other terms in the contract are not negotiated in this process. (In other words, it is not acceptable to trade concessions such as price, closing date, etc. in lieu of requested repairs.)
Sellers frequently ask, “What should I offer to fix, and what should I decline?”
Unfortunately, this is almost impossible to answer. Some buyers want everything fixed, others only ask for big ticket items like ac repair, water heaters, etc. Sometimes we can glean information from the buyers agent as to what is critical or a deal breaker. Occasionally the seller may offer a credit toward the buyer’s closing costs in lieu of repairs. The bottom line is, there is a risk the buyer will cancel if you don’t complete the entire list. Any time you give the buyer an option to cancel with no ramifications you are taking a risk.
Ultimately, the prudent seller will get estimates for significant repairs and utilizing sound judgment and the experience of their agent determine what the seller can afford in time and hard costs. Keep in mind that if the buyer walks, it’s quite likely that the next buyer that comes along will have similar repair requests. This is especially true of the big ticket items. This is why it can be a good idea to have your home pre-inspected prior to, or at the beginning of the listing period. In addition to giving you an idea of what a buyer’s inspector will probably note, a pre-inspection report with evidence of completed repairs can help set your home apart and give potential buyers incentive to put your home near the top of their list.