Home inspection-- expectations for seller repairs?

Asked by Andy, Roswell, GA Wed Dec 19, 2007

Our offer on a home was accepted and we just completed the home inspection. We're reviewing the report, but are unsure of what fixes and costs are reasonable to expect the seller to pay for, and which we should let slide. In particular, there a couple of biggies that stand out to us. (1) foundation under main floor bath-- erorded under slab, likely needs new footing. Note that this is a bump-out room; the rest of the house is on block foundation which is fine (2) roof has less than 3 yrs life, and needs some minor immediate maintenance (flashing, nails). (3) hot tub deck is rotted and unsound, and the electrical isn't GFCI, (4) water heater is 14 yo disclosed as 10, (5) ac vibe pads are busted. There are other minor things, but these are the ones that struck us as they are likely to limit our use of the home and its amenities, or cost significant money in the near term. Our realtor is standoffish about what to ask for-- says it's up to us. Any suggestions/ How do we decide?

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Hank Miller, Agent, Alpharetta, GA
Wed Dec 19, 2007
Hi Andy

Inspectors are hired to find issues and they won’t disappoint; I guess 80%-85% of an inspection is boilerplate. At the end of the day, buyers and sellers have to be reasonable. In my world, reasonable means correct safety, structural and obvious code issues. The inspection shouldn’t be a second negotiation; you would be surprised how subjective these can be even with inspectors using “checklists”. Every home, existing and new will have gigs on it.

My opinions based upon your info:
• The slab issue warrants further investigation. Why is it eroding? Poor compaction, water issues, concrete issues?
• Nail pops are normal – flashing issues on a three year old roof aren’t. Maybe have a roofing company look at it our have the inspector elaborate.
• A hot tub on a poorly built/maintained deck is a disaster waiting to happen, that’s needs investigation.
• The Hot tub area is a wet area and needs GFI outlest. Note that GFIs commonly stick. If you don't work the button the springs will stick and either rust or break with age, that’s normal and you just change them out.
• If you refer to the AC pads under the units, those often settle and crack – routine maintenance.
• The water heater is a non issue unless it’s not working properly.

As I don’t have the report to review, I’d suggest getting a contractor to render an opinion on the slab and deck. They can likely handle the roof as well – but you can bring a roofer in. Make certain you notify the seller about all this – you need to ensure that the time limits don’t expire for you to complete inspections and negotiations.

Where did you find your realtor? If he doesn’t want to get involved then go have a chat with his broker and let him know how you’re not being served. This isn’t your job, it’s his. Did you negotiate a home warranty for the house?

I remember your previous post – did you research this realtor before hiring him? He’s not showing me much if he’s putting this on you! Let me know how I can help.

Hank Miller, SRA, ABR
Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser
REMAX Greater Atlanta
Web Reference:  http://www.hrmiller.com
6 votes
James Dudley, Agent, Suwanee, GA
Wed Dec 19, 2007

The bottom line here is your realtor should do whatever it takes to get you the best deal on the best house.

Give the seller a copy of the report along with your repair requests. Attach the report to your ammendment and ask for everything!

I don't agree with Hank's comment. A home inspection is a negotiation tool in this market. Let's face it you have the seller ready to sell. They can go back to trying to sell their home or they can meet your requirements and close on the property. What do you think is easier for the seller? There are too many great homes on the market not to get what you want these days.

Sounds like you found an agent who's more scared of losing a deal than getting you what you want.
1 vote
Lorie Gould, Agent, Duluth, GA
Wed Dec 19, 2007
It is ultimately your decision; however, your agent should be guiding you and helping you make the decision.

We are talking about an older home so you need to keep in mind you are not buying a brand new home and should not expect it to be perfect. At the same time, you should also not inherit problems from the current owner that they were not proactive to prevent or proactive to repair. What was acceptable to them does not have to be acceptable to you!

WIth that being said, Structural items could be a major issue and should be addressed. This sometimes requires hiring a structural engineer (about $600 to $1000) to look at the situation and provide the means needed to correct it. True Defects such as wood rot or HVAC issues etc should be addressed as these could compromise the structure or the system if not corrected. Code Violations should be addressed as items like GFCI are in place for safety. If you had the right to inspect and request repairs in your contract than code items grandfathered do not have to be addressed by the seller. The roof repairs need to be made and you can always ask for a roofing allowance; however, if you are under the Right to Inspect and Right to Request Repairs the seller only has to correct the minor repairs to the roof. If you are under Due Diligence you can ask for a whole new roof.

You should obtain written estimates for the repairs so that you know exactly what this costs to the seller and what it will cost to you if the seller does not agree and you still want the home. Remember this is negotiable and the seller does not have to agree to a single repair... that would make them a dumb seller in this market. We are in a buyers market and the sellers know that we are in a buyers market.

As an agent, if I know a roof is near replacing then I address is upfront in the contract. Any noticeable issues I address upfront.

In 2008, due diligence will be the only option other than "as-is" in the contract. I am excited about that!
1 vote
Andy Nelms, , 30019
Wed Dec 19, 2007
If you selected the "Right to Request Repairs" paragraph instead of the "Due Diligence" clause in the contract then there is nothing you can do about the roof. having 3 years left. This is because the "Right to Request Repairs" paragraph allows you to negotiate for defects and a roof that is not leaking but which only has ONE DAY OF LIFE left cannot be negotatiated using the "Right to Request Repairs" paragraph.
The roof is only defective if it is leaking today. Therefore it is not defective.

However, if you checked the "Due diligence" paragraph then you are free to negotiate or walk on the contract as long as you are within the time period specified in the contract for the due diligence period.

When negotiating for repairs usually will want to request the most expensive repairs and not give the sellets a laundry list of small items. Afterall, the home is not new so you must expect some blemishes.

Do you hae a signed BUYERS BROKER AGREEMENT with the realtor? If so then HE/SHE is expected to advise you on all matters related to negotiating the contract. If you do not have a signed BUYERS BROKER AGREEMENT then he/she may not by LAW advise you on anything. In his defense he may be new may not know what toi ask for.

1 vote
Smackdaddies, , Wisconsin Dells, WI
Thu Jul 22, 2010
Unless you have a buyers broker agreement, the real estate agent - both of them, represent the seller, not the buyer - i.e. they represent the seller - not you.

Hire an attorney to negotiate if you want someone who really represents you and knows what law - don't rely on the agent
0 votes
Lorie Gould, Agent, Duluth, GA
Fri Dec 21, 2007
Andy...my opinion absolutely on the seller paying for the foundation repair! It is not your problem that the issue exists. You did not sign up to purchase a home with a structural issues or to pay for their lack of maintenance which explains why you are paying market value.

At this point, if they do not agree they have to revise their Seller's Disclosure to disclose the structural problem and that will hurt them. You are in the drivers seat.

On the structural issue... I would ask them to have it repaired by the company of your choice prior to closing. Structural issues can be a can of worms... if additional work is needed or something more serious is found wouldn't you rather the seller handle all the cost of repair. I would have your agent put in a protection clause for you that you have the opportunity to terminate with the full return of all earnest money should the process of the repairs reveal any additional damage to the structure.

You can feel bad for the seller and the issues that the home has but not to the point that you inherit the issues and the cost to repair. PROTECT YOURSELF!
0 votes
Andy, Home Buyer, Roswell, GA
Thu Dec 20, 2007
Update: we're preparing our amendment. We got an estimate of $11K to fix the foundation and are asking for that and ~ $1300 in other fixes (deck, roof maintenance, etc. to satisfy safety and usability). Just a quick poll: should we expect seller to pay full foundation costs? Home is probably priced fairly at just under $400K, we are paying 97.5% LP:SP.
0 votes
Don Lantier, Agent, smyrna, GA
Wed Dec 19, 2007
Perhaps you need to light a fire under your Real Etate Agent.?!!.... If he or she is working under a buyers broker agreement with you they are supposed to being looking out for your best interest!
It may be in your bet interest to have a couple of contractor estimates on the different concerns and then present to seller with same...give the seller the opportunity to do same based on your concerns and negotiate...nice like!!
Web Reference:  http://lantierrealty.com
0 votes
Michael Krot…, Agent,
Wed Dec 19, 2007
It's hard to tell you what to ask for. It has to do with several factors, including:

- Sale price of the home compared to comparables
- Length/ease of negotiations (if applicable)
- Type of market home is in
- Mindset of seller.

If you're in a buyer's market you will typically have more leeway asking for repairs/concessions from the seller. That being said, the seller may not be willing to do any repairs at all, and would rather just give you a price break on the home.

The most troubling of the items you mentioned is the foundation issue; that is something that will come back to haunt you in the future, and you might want to think twice about this property if there are others to consider.

Get a few estimates to repair the above items and take a hard look at those estimates, the sales price of the home, and other properties on the market. If you do ask for a price break or concessions, the worst the seller's can say is "no", at which point you still probably have the option to back out of the deal and retain your earnest deposit (more than likely, depends on your contract).
0 votes
Joshua Jarvis, Agent, Duluth, GA
Wed Dec 19, 2007
Your Realtor should provide some direction on this. If you really want to find out, extend the inspection period and get a contractor out there to price out the fixes. You'll have a much better view of things.

Or you can do what most Realtors hate, ASK FOR IT ALL!

Your Realtor is there to represent you and your best interest. It's in YOUR best interest to get as much as those things that need to be done.

Taking a step back, keep in mind things that are cosmetic in nature can be left out. Minor maintenance items such as nail pops can be left out, again, not a "defect." You need ask your Realtor some hard questions about what on your list is a Defect and what is a minor item.

At the end of the day, it IS your decision though, so when in doubt ask for it all, see what sticks. Also, already have a HOT list in mind of what MUST be fixed before moving in.
Web Reference:  http://www.jrjarvis.com
0 votes
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