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Homebuyers: 4 Questions to Ask Before Responding to an Inspection

Congratulations! The sellers accepted your offer, and you’ve completed your home inspection. But the inspection revealed unexpected issues with the property.

How should you proceed? Your agent is your best source of advice, but it may also be helpful to consider these questions:

1. How serious is the problem?

First, it’s essential to acknowledge that no home is perfect and that inspectors will and should document their findings thoroughly. Most inspection reports note numerous details and offer home maintenance recommendations. It’s an excellent way for buyers to learn how to care for their new home.

However, inspectors may find more significant problems, too—issues that require more expensive repairs or impact the safety and well-being of the occupants. As a buyer, you should consider the number and magnitude of the problems and prioritize your concerns.

With your agent’s help, decide on the best course of action. Ideally, you want to navigate this process in a way that creates a satisfactory result for you and the seller. But also remember that the primary reason buyers ask for an inspection contingency is to protect themselves from purchasing a home with substantial, undisclosed issues.

2. How does the process work?

Each state and every local market operates under its own real estate laws and standards of practice, potentially including standard buyer repair request forms for responding to inspections. Typically, an inspection contingency means that buyers can request repairs be done before closing at the seller’s expense or ask for a price adjustment.

The seller then has a chance to respond to the buyer’s request. This process can go back and forth until agreements are reached. The seller can also decline the buyer’s requests, and in some cases, this may terminate the contract.

You may also want to share a copy of the inspection report with the sellers to help validate your concerns and potentially reveal other issues that you are not trying to remedy. But since you paid for the inspection, the report is your personal property, and it cannot be shared without your permission.

3. Is it better to ask for a repair or a price adjustment?

There are pros and cons to each approach. If you ask the sellers to correct the problem, the repairs should be complete before you take possession, but you may have less control over the results. For example, if any appliances need to be replaced, the seller may select the least expensive options, unless they’ve agreed to something more.

On the other hand, If you ask for a price reduction (or closing credits), you may be able to reduce your financing costs. But you’ll still need to come up with the money to complete the repairs on your own. Also, make sure your bank will accept the adjustment.

There may be other options, too. For example, if the roof needs repair and a contractor has provided an estimate, the seller may agree to give you a certified check at closing, payable to the contractor. That way, you can supervise the repairs, and the seller knows that the money will be used to fix the roof.

4. How will the sellers respond?

Inspection negotiations are a delicate matter. Remember, sellers want the best price for their homes and are usually proud of their property. If you point out too many problems or ask for too much, you may lose their cooperation.

Of course, a seller’s response will also depend on their circumstances and local market conditions. Will it be easy for them to find another buyer?

Just as your agent helped you decide how to structure your offer, they can also guide your decisions in negotiating the inspection process. This is especially true if you work with an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®)—an agent who has specialized training in assisting buyers with every aspect of their transaction.