Seller does not want to make repairs on 2 of 8 line items from home inspection.

Asked by Desperately Seeking Advice, Brighton Heights, Pittsburgh, PA Fri Dec 5, 2008

One of the two items involve replacing a soft copper gas line that's connected to a gas log fireplace. The line runs through the wall from the basement to the living room. It was strongly recommended that the soft copper gas line be replaced. The other item would have cost approx. $50 to repair. This was not a big deal and I would have accepted the seller not making the low $ repair - but because he refused to repair or replace both items that were most important to me, this frustrated me even more. I am now at a point where I want to cancel the contract. I really like this house but I'm not in love with it. Am I being unreasonable and selfish?
Frustrated Buyer

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Trey Miller, , Tampa, FL
Fri Dec 5, 2008
Really this is part of the negotiating process. Not sure how it works in PA, but we have a repair limit. So, if there are repairs over this limit and buyer and seller can't agree on a remedy the contract is cancelled. Also, not all items are required to be repaired. Cosmetic issues like cracked tile are not required to be repaired. Is this copper pipe a recommended repair or a required repair? If it is a required repair issue perhaps the seller would be willing to give you a "credit" for the amount of the repair at the closing. If it is a recommended repair or maintenance issue then the seller would not be required to fix it. Have you spoken with your agent about this issue?

Trey Miller
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1 vote
Joe Michalski, , Philadelphia, PA
Sat Dec 6, 2008
As an inspector, I understand that your inspector was probably trained to call for replacement of copper gas pipes, although it is unlikely to be a specific code violation. Copper is allowed under the National Fuel Gas Code and other similar building codes and has been used in many different states for many years. Years and years ago, there were more sulfer additives to natural gas which made it smell (helping you know there was a leak). This created copper sulfide which caused the pipes to flake and orcies to become blocked (among other problems).

In more recent times, the additives have been altered ro reduced and flaking is not nearly the problem it used to be. Still, most inspectors are taught to just call it out for replacement (since they are not master plumbers and don't often get down the real underlying resons why).

It is perfectly safe for Liquid Propane (LP) gas use.

Now, on to the bigger issue. This is a whole rengotitaion on both sides, and it helps to keep some of that in perspective. If you didn't tell them those were your most important items, then you can't assume they knew how highly you valued those repairs. It sounds like smaller, less expensive issues, and you also have to remember that the seller probably also came down in price in the first round of price negotiations, so from their perspective they are thinking "Just how much is enough for this buyer?" The process can tend to result in hurt feelings, but in the end, once you get down to the last few hundred dollars, it should all be able to be worked out.

Most buyers I have worked with actually prefer that the sellers do not make repairs but instead offer a credit so that they can do the work themselves, or have contractors they trust do the work. Let's face it, you just aren't going to take the same care with a home that you know you are leaving in 5 days as one you plan to spend the next several years in!

Finally, the soft copper can be replaced with CSST (corrugated stainless steel tubing) which is flexible and easy and cheap to install, for a reasonable amount.
2 votes
Chris and St…, Agent, Philadelphia, PA
Fri Dec 5, 2008
Only you know the answer to your question in your heart and soul.

I would take a look at the big picture. If you are paying top market value that would affect my answer. If you are getting a great deal on the sales price, that should be taking into consideration. Also, of th 6 out of the 8 items, how does it work out in terms of dollars amount.

I would consult with your buyers agent and perhaps a good person you can consult with. Also look at your quality of life considerations in terms of why you decided to move foward on this deal to begin with.

Good luck !
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2 votes
Joe Sheehan, Agent, Exton, PA
Sat Dec 6, 2008
It would be a shame for you not to get a house that you "really like" because you couldn't agree with the seller on who should pay for what sounds like less than $500 worth of repairs. I would ask your home inspector if "strongly recommended" means it is dangerous condition that needs attention. If yes then I agree, you should insist on repairs. If not, perhaps you could offer to split the cost with the seller.

If it was me and I "really liked" the house and there were no outstanding issues that were deemed dangerous, I would eat the cost and buy the house.

Just my opinion. Good luck!

Joe Sheehan, ABR, SRES
1 vote
Heather Mart…, Agent, Catasauqua, PA
Fri Dec 5, 2008
Hello Home Buyer!

Well, #1 if you are not INLOVE with the house that I would tell you if where my buyer that the home is NOT for you. You NEED to love you will be living in it for a long time right?

Let's say you that you change your mind and this really is the house for you. Your Agent should be explaining to them exactly how you feel and get down to what it will take for you to purchase the home. As I will assume that you have all rights to get out of the contract...if you are working with an agent.

If this does not help you...I need to know if you asked the seller to fix 8 line items and they agreed to all of them but 2? If so, take a look at the estimated cost of the other 5 items and maybe say seller, I would rather you fix the copper line to the fireplace instead of the other items....the entire negotiation process "game" is asking for more than you want and compromising so everyone can be happy.....and some times giving up something you want for getting the home of your dreams. BUT THE HOME MUST BE THE HOME OF YOUR DREAMS for this to work.

I hope this information has helped you. If you would like to talk to me directly for any other a friend in the business....just give me a call ...I am working tomorrow and Sunday!
1 vote
David Chambe…, , Saint Petersburg, FL
Fri Dec 5, 2008
It seems to me that you should have left the unimportant items off and just put the important items on. They may think you are too petty by having too many items listed.
1 vote
Crystal Alfo…, Agent, Pittsburgh, PA
Fri Dec 5, 2008
Without knowing anything about the transaction, I would only say that you should resist the temptation to take this personally. You stated that the Seller refused the items that were "most important to you", that's a personal statement and unless you told them they were the most important, they would have no way of knowing that. Did you qualify all 8 items in order of importance to you?

Perhaps they looked at the list and decided on the items that would have been most important from their point of view?

Perhaps they chose the other items based on the fact that they know professionals that can make the repairs and aren't familiar with the other 2 and wouldn't know where to start?

This is a 2 sided transaction and you have no way of know what is going on inside the seller's head, what other factors are at play, etc. Take a step back and look at the whole thing as a logical transaction. If you gave somebody of list of 8 things that you want and they are willing to give you sounds like you are doing pretty well.

Again, try to resist reading more into this and don't take it personally. Talk to your agent - they are the outside party that brings you and the seller together...they should be able to give you a logical, outside viewpoint with regard to all of the details....that's why they are the Pros!
1 vote
Terrence Cha…, Home Owner, Allentown, PA
Fri Dec 5, 2008
Do you have a Buyer's Agent? It would be a shame if you don't. It's even more of a shame if you are being represented and your agent is not assisting you through the process.

If you are being represented, what is your agent saying about everything? If you can't negotiate through the inspection results, you may be able to get released from the contract. Have you talked with a contractor to see what the repair costs would be? Perhaps you could negotiate a lower price for the home due to the needed repairs.

Some items may be required for the seller to clear up for any possible Use and Occupancy Permit.

If you are not being represented by a real estate agent, you may need to get legal counsel.

Hope that helps,

Terrence Charest
1 vote
Vicki Masell…, Agent, Duluth, GA
Fri Dec 5, 2008
You're not alone when it comes to negotiating repairs. Just when I think I've seen it all, a buyer or seller will surprise me (usually during the due diligence period and subsequent negotiations for repairs).

If you "really like" the house and are willing to give it another try, I suggest that you shorten your list of repairs to include only those which matter the most to you. I typically guide my buyer clients to focus on those type of repairs which may involve significant cost and those that may have safety related issue/concern. Have your agent play up that latter part to the seller in your counter-offer.

By eliminating some of the other repairs that are of less concern to you, the seller should recognize your willingness to cooperate and perhaps will have a change of heart by agreeing to take care of the items of greatest concern to you. If not, then exercise your rights under the provisions of your agreement to terminate and return to square one in the process of finding another home. Good luck!
0 votes
Pat Zollo, , Horsham, PA
Fri Dec 5, 2008
Is it a code violation, does the town have a U&O inspection that would require it? It is difficult to answer your question when you say they are doing 6 of the 8 repairs. If is a propane fireplace most of those installations use soft copper for the fuel line. Do you want the home or to get everything you asked for repaired. It is all negotiation.
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