Home Buying in Minneapolis>Question Details

Miss1723, Home Buyer in Minneapolis, MN

Issues Discovered During Home Inspection- What can we realistically expect seller to take care of?

Asked by Miss1723, Minneapolis, MN Wed Apr 17, 2013

We put an offer on a house, and recently had the inspection. Overall, I was pretty satisfied, but some things were found that need to be addressed and I would like some advice. First, there were mouse traps in the garage and an unfinished part of the basement. There is nothing about pest control issues in the seller disclosure and we didn't find mice or droppings. Second, the Inspector pointed out a final inspection sticker was missing from the electrical box for some of the added circuits. He did not identify issues with the wiring, just that the sticker was missing for some unknown reason. Third, the siding needs to be replaced, as well as the garbage disposal, water heater, and the track for the garage door. Fourth, at least one window needs replacing, potentially three if re-sealing doesn't work.
I'm wondering how concerned we should be about these issues, and what are best chances would be in negotiating? (what are sellers generally open to)

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1) You should be concerned about these issues. If you think that maybe you are "stupid" for worrying then forget about it.

2) The best chances of negotiating is arming yourself with information, and also setting expectations with the type of seller and market you are buying in.

3) First, let's talk about the market. How does this home stack up compared to the other houses? If the market demands this home be in higher repair you have leverage. If all the other homes ALSO have deferred maintenance not so much see? In other words, what did you base the full list price offer from?
Also, BIG difference between cosmetics and maintenance repairs like what you speak of. One gives you high ROI and the other very little. Does impact sales price.

4) For the mouse traps in the garage and basement I may ask the seller to pay for a pest control inspection. It was not on the seller disclosure, and really your concern is just making sure there is not going to be a huge issue once you move in. I don't think this is a deal breaker, and quite frankly if the seller balks I WOULD BE CONCERNED. Seriously they are the ones who have the mouse traps down in the first place. A couple hundred bucks. If they say "the problem got fixed" I would counter with " we want confirmation the problem is fixed".

5) As for electrical I would do the same thing DEPENDING on the city. As others have pointed out if permits were not pulled you want to make sure the work was done right. Electrical is very expensive if you need to do something down the road. The seller should understand this. I would ask the seller to do the electrical and you pay for the pest control people. 50/50 works well in negotiations.

6) The siding really is the deal breaker here. Your agent should be contacting the listing agent like yesterday to speak about this. Maybe you get lucky and it is hail damage. I had a listing where my seller put a claim and got a whole roof fixed for our buyer due to the inspection. You will want to get a contractor out there so we have numbers, but $7,500-$10,000 would not be unrealistic. I would knock 100% of the cost from purchase price then if the seller is not paying for it. Tell them you will go half-way if the seller pays for it to be replaced before closing.

7) Water heater should be replaced by seller. Garage track you take care of. Another item that has zero ROI to you.

8) the contractor can probably tell you more about the windows and if they need to be replaced or fixed. BIG cost difference there. You would want a couple unless there is someone you trust. Once again, seller replaces or knocks down the purchase price.

As to what sellers are generally open to I will give you my opinion as a listing agent. I have no problem helping buyers obtain more information on a property. Something like mouse traps or electrical is no big deal to me and my seller. I had a listing once where we had a mole problem in the backyard. We had one buyer that thought we had "soil issues" and all types of crazy ideas about a swimming pool behind us. The buyer's agent was just bizarre. The realtor literally sabotaged the deal for her buyer's.

Keep in mind that an inspection is the first point-of-attack. Too many buyers stop there and try to make assumptions about the property. If an inspector flags a potential problem you should get the professionals out there. No different if he flagged a plumbing issue I would want to know how much it is going to cost me right?

As to everything else it comes down to the market and it is just that simple. When a buyer makes a request for garbage disposal I tell them to kick sand, but for siding and the other items I know that it will come up again during the inspection even if I find another buyer. I have to decide where the market value is.

As the buyer you should not feel sympathy for the seller this is business. If you are running a charity why hey ME ME ME ME ME! Hahaha, but seriously these are not high ROI items and you need to keep that in mind. If you over-pay then the resale is hurt. Way way different if we were talking carpet, paint, kitchen, and baths.

If you don't have a realtor I think you learned your lesson. Maybe you are working with the listing agent which gives you BIG leverage but not a whole lot of support. If this home does not work out give me a call. We are free to work with ya know?

CAN YOU FIND SOMETHING BETTER? THAT WILL BE THE ULTIMATE DECIDER ON IF YOU WALK AWAY OR NOT.

Chris
651-307-7663
chris.block@imetroproperty.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 18, 2013
Why aren't you asking your agent these questions?
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 19, 2013
That is a good idea to ask the agent these sorts of questions. Some of the fixes to these problems will cost a bit of money. My dad had to replace the spring in his garage door twice over the last ten years. The price is worth it to have the door continue to work, but not something that they should be able to shove off on you.
http://lipebrothersgaragedoors.net/services.html
Flag Tue Nov 11, 2014
I would like to "chime in" again, just in case your head spin too far in the wrong direction. I believe things work a bit differently in New York so I wanted to point out a difference in opinion between my opinion and that of Trevor Curran from the Bronx. Trevor said, "If there is a serious problem with any of these five items, typically the Seller has a responsibility under the terms of the contract of sale to repair the problem at their expense, not the Purchaser's expense." That's not generally the case here in Minnesota where the seller seldom has any responsibility to repair or replace anything under the terms of the contracts we usually use here in Minnesota.

Additionally, in Minnesota, attorneys are not commonly used to negotiate inspection issues. Since the sellers generally have no contractual or legal obligation to repair or replace anything, a seller in Minnesota would often get upset if contacted by an attorney representing a buyer. A lawyer holds no real legal leverage in negotiating inspection issues and involving one (which is certainly OK and recommended if you have a genuine legal issue) would often result in a seller hoping for another buyer and anxious to end the contract with you. If you do not understand the contract, then legal advice might be warranted, but I doubt that involving an attorney for inspection issue negotiations would bring about a favorable or inexpensive end to the situation. We're "Minnesota-Nice" here and to many, involving an attorney is often viewed like a "declaration of war".

To be clear, if you need legal advice, see an attorney. Generally though, they aren't commonly used here in MN to negotiate real estate inspection issues.

If the seller knows of anything that will affect a buyer's use or enjoyment of a property, the seller is obligated to disclose those facts. If he knows the siding must be replaced, or that the garbage disposal, water heater, garage door track, or windows aren't in good working order...the seller must disclose those facts...but...the seller has until closing to disclose those things. "Disclosure" is one thing, and "making repairs and paying for the repairs" is another completely different thing that sellers are not generally obligated to do.

You really need an agent to assist you. You should not have these questions so call me or someone else who posted here...and get some guidance before it's too late. I'll talk to you for free and most likely, so will the other agents who have posted here. Your inspection clock is ticking and every step you take is important.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 18, 2013
Miss 1723,

You asked, "What are sellers generally open to?". Well, generally, they are open to three different things:

1. Keeping their money in their pocket.
2. Doing what's reasonably affordable for a reasonable buyer, to make the sale work.
3. Telling unreasonable buyers with unreasonable requests, to "take a flying leap".

In an attempt to appear reasonable, keep your list of requests, short. The mice traps are possibly the reason that you didn't find mice droppings and possibly the reason the seller didn't disclose a problem with mice. Quite simply, there might not be a problem with mice. Even if one finds its' way to a trap sometimes, doesn't mean there's any real "problem". So, I'd forget about that.

The missing electrical inspection sticker likely means that someone did some electrical work and didn't pull a permit. The lack of a permit is why the electrical box is missing a sticker. The lack of a sticker doesn't mean that anything is wrong with the work...if there was something wrong, a good inspector likely would have found it when they tested the circuits. You didn't mention if you were financing the home, nor where it was. Some communities require a "point of sale inspection" and things like a missing sticker might be a problem for them, or for you if later your community requires such an inspection of if your buyer wants to make an "issue" out of it. Also, a VA or FHA appraiser might have an "issue" with the lack of a sticker....if so...then it becomes an "appraisal issue" rather than an "inspection issue".

The siding needs to be replaced? Well, that's not cheap. You didn't notice that before the inspection? Most likely, that's the most expensive issue, so you might want to consider asking the seller for that...either in the form of a price reduction or doing the actual work. I'd hurry and get some bids from siding contractors unless you'd rather pull a price out of thin air. Often a bid and statement from a contractor explaining the problem and remedy looks better to a seller, than a "thin-air-price".

The garbage disposal is not generally overly expensive. A good one can be obtained for around $200 and most handy people can install one. Does the seller's disclosure indicate that it doesn't work?

One to three windows...hmmm. I'd recommend getting somebody out there knowledgeable about windows to determine what it will take to fix the problem. The reason for this is that if you are going to ask the seller for something, you'll need to be specific about what it is you are asking for. Get bids during the inspection period.

The water heater...according to the inspector....is it working at all? If not, I'd ask the seller to remove and replace it...especially if it's not working at all and wasn't disclosed as "non-working".

The first thing I'd do, is decide whether you want the place at all.

The second thing I'd do is read the inspection contingency addendum, determine the "final acceptance date" and watch the calendar closely to make sure you are operating within the inspection timetables. If you don't do that right, your ability to negotiate anything may end.

If you do decide to ask the seller for anything, you might want to start out doing it verbally, to see how "negotiable" the seller is....then follow that in writing within the time-frame to do so. If you do that, pay close attention to lines 46-49 of the inspection contingency addendum...or you could find yourself with a seller-initiated cancellation of purchase agreement.

I find myself wondering about your agent. Why isn't your agent answering these questions for you and providing you with experienced guidance? Are you represented by anyone? If so, is the person representing you also representing the seller? If so, that's "dual agency" and hopefully that was fully explained to you during the first meeting you had with any agent.

It's hard to provide much more advice without knowing more about what your needs are, how many homes fit those needs, and knowing more about what this home is actually worth. If you made a full-price offer with 3% seller concessions...you can probably find many sellers willing to accept that...unless something makes this property unique.

I don't know. It's hard to make suggestions without knowing all the facts, and all the facts probably won't fit in the space allowed here. If you are doing this all alone without any sort of representation, I would encourage you to:
1. Quickly become represented by an experienced agent if possible. If you call me, I'll try.
2. Walk away from this deal unless you are completely comfortable moving forward.
3. If you choose #2 (above), find an experienced agent who represents ONLY YOU to assist you. Usually that won't cost you anything and you'll have someone to guide you through troublesome situations like this. I can help with that too.

Mike Kelcher RES Realty.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 17, 2013
Ask for them all. You never know what they are going to say unless you ask. I've seen $15,000 inspection orders and $1,000.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 29, 2013
What does your Realtor suggest? I would hate to undermine a co worker ;)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 31, 2013
AND, what I neglected to say was how many other factors may mitigate your ability to get ANY concessions from the seller. If you got a heck of a deal, then this stuff may be off the table. Or if it's a foreclosure, again, these types of items may be problematic.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 30, 2013
Hi, Miss1723!
Wow!!! Look at all the answers!!! Took you a while to read!! :D

Now, as for your question. First of all, do you have an agent?? Your agent should be well versed in this situation to give you the appropriate advice.

My typical advice to buyers is to consider to what degree this defect will affect their use and enjoyment of the property. Depending on how bad the windows are, that might be a place to concede. As for the electrical and the mouse traps, ASK! I would put something in writing, perhaps asking for exterminator or maybe even evidence about the electrical work, perhaps a permit close out or something. Siding is sellers responsibility. Unless they TOLD you the garbage disposal and the hot water heater were in working order, that might be dicey.

Again, I'm just wondering why you don't ask your own agent about this????
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 30, 2013
Hi Miss1723,

Are you under contract with a MN agent? If not I would love to speak with you )

Cheers to HOT COCO!!

Cody Anderson, MN Licensed Realtor

RE/MAX RESULTS
Metropolitan Home Team

Phone: 612-242-5752
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 18, 2013
Your buyer agent should really guide you with this. It will depend if the seller is a bank, a short sale or regular owner. With a bank or short sale your options will be extremely limited. With an owner you can out in writing to have them fix or ask for credit so you can fix. the rule of thumb is issues that can not be seen with your naked eye are asked to be fixed. Again ask your agent to guide you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 18, 2013
Good morning Miss1723,

Typically your Home Inspection will alert you to problems in five key areas, and these key areas directly relate to the contract of sale:

1. Foundation: sound and solid
2. Roof free of leaks
3. Plumbing working and leak-free
4. Heating system sufficient and operating
5. Electrical system sufficient and up to code

If there is a serious problem with any of these five items, typically the Seller has a responsibility under the terms of the contract of sale to repair the problem at their expense, not the Purchaser's expense. Sometimes a Purchaser will receive a credit at closing to repair one of these items (assuming the home and the defective issue has not compromised the Lender's appraisal). When the Purchaser receives a credit at closing, the amount of the credit is based upon legitimate estimates for repair and negotiations between the Attorneys representing each party.

Other items you discover are in need of repair/upgrade (i.e. diswasher not operating properly; air conditioner on second floor inoperable, etc.) can be negotiated for a repair credit or replacement at the Seller's expense. Again, these negotiations are handled by the Attorneys.

It is extremely RARE that a purchase price is reduced due to repairs from a Home Inspection. Best to consult with your Attorney for more detailed information in this area.

If you don't already have a good real estate Attorney and you're shopping for homes, you need to reverse your process. First, get properly prequalified for mortgage financing by a Local Mortgage Banker. Second, line up your Attorney. Third, line up your Home Inspector. Fourth, line up a great local Realtor with personal experience in the area in which you'd like to buy.

Trevor Curran
NMLS #40140

*If you thought my answer was helpful, please give me a "Thumbs Up" or "Best Answer." Thanks!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 18, 2013
The primary purpose of the home inspection is to create the new home owners "To Do" list and identify Major Ticket Repairs, I.e. expired roof, furnace, windows. Buyers often have unrealistic expectations of what the sellers should fix or repair for them.

Sellers are often willing to "fix" certain items but not "improve" them for buyers. Market conditions will also dictate what you can ask for and expect sellers to do on your behalf.

It helps as a buyer to imagine yourself as a seller and think what you would do if a buyer where asking you to do the list you've prepared. Often sellers are not "desperate" for you to purchase their home, even though that's what as a buyer they assume.

If you have concerns, don't hesitate to contact the inspections or permits department of the local municipalities.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 17, 2013
Our offer was for list price, seller agreed to contribute 3% to closing. I guess I wasn't very specific so I'll try again. I've never bought a home before so I'm hoping people with more experience can tell me how concerning the issues the inspector noted are.

You say health and safety, but I don't know what that means. Do rat traps in the house present a health concern? Is a missing inspection sticker on the electrical box a safety issue? We don't expect the seller to take care of anything, because I don't think that would be realistic, but from what I can tell the major expense is the siding and we would really like them to fix it or at least drop their price a few thousand. If we were financing with FHA we'd be denied because of the state of disrepair the siding is in, does that give us additional leverage or not really?


Thanks!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 17, 2013
My opinion is that mice are very common and that if you aren’t finding other signs of them...droppings etc it’s not worth negotiating over. If they were trying to hide a serious problem I don’t think they would have left the traps. If they are rat traps (very large traps) I would be much more concerned. Financing issues do give leverage. The biggest thing here is if the home is pre-1978 built. Any damaged/peeling areas pre 1978 due to lead paint rules aren’t likely to be missed by an appraiser. If its newer than that its hard to say without seeing the damage. On the electrical, you should be able to call the city or the state electrical dept and find out if the permit has been closed or not.
Flag Wed Apr 17, 2013
My advice would be to pick what is important to you, in this hot of a market you aren’t likely to get it all. Start with health and safety issues and go from there. If the water heater is like 26 years old and was clearly old during your showings that is very different than having a reading that it gives of carbon monoxide. Siding is expensive (relatively) and easy to examine while doing a showing. That will be hard to get without having pre-negotiated it. Some of the others are easier to do like the disposal. How hard you push also depends on how much you like the deal and how much they need to sell. Follow your agents advice, they should have a good read as to what the sellers are willing to do. Good Luck!
Web Reference: http://www.mspagents.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 17, 2013
Health & safety issues. In my opinion it also depends upon how strong your offer was.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 17, 2013
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