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What Is A Reasonable Repair Request To Ask For After A Home Inspection?

Katie Ziraldo7-minute read

September 17, 2021

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When you first walk through a home, you may be so focused on the updated kitchen or finished basement that you fail to see what lies beneath the surface. As a home buyer, you might not be an expert, so it’s important to leverage industry professionals to identify any potential issues that may be lurking in the home. This is why a home inspection is so important!

But what exactly constitutes a reasonable repair request after the home inspection? In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of home inspections and how to prioritize crucial home repairs without jeopardizing your relationship with the seller.

What To Do After A Home Inspection

A home inspection is a visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a home, meant to uncover any hidden problems the buyer may not see themselves. If a home inspection unearths necessary repairs in the property, this information can be used to negotiate the home’s price with the seller or to arrange for repairs to be taken care of prior to closing.

After the inspection, a home buyer will review the inspection report to determine whether they want to purchase the house. If the damage is extensive, the buyer can choose to cancel the sale entirely, or they can enter negotiations with the seller.

Understanding The State Of The Market

One thing to keep in mind when we consider home inspections is the impact the housing market will have on the process at large. When the market shifts, the expectations on inspections and repairs can change significantly, so it’s crucial that you understand whether it’s a seller’s market or buyer’s market – and what these different market conditions may lead to – when you’re looking at homes.

This is important because the state of the market serves as the buyer’s leverage to motivate the seller to complete the request repairs. For example, in a seller’s market where there are more buyers than there are houses available, it may be difficult to negotiate for repairs when the seller could realistically find other suitable buyers quickly. But in a buyer’s market, sellers may be more motivated to meet buyers’ requests. Consider these market shifts as you review the home inspection report to ensure the repairs you’re requesting are in line with the rules of supply and demand.

Requesting Repairs After A Home Inspection

Following the home inspection, there may be a list of items that require care and repair. But which of these repairs are reasonable to request and how do you ask for them?

When in doubt, a real estate agent or REALTOR® will be able to guide you through the home inspection process and provide help to identify what you reasonably can and should ask to be repaired by the seller.

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Do Sellers Have To Fix Everything Revealed By Home Inspections?

Although negotiating home repairs is quite common, it’s important to note that these repairs are not mandatory, and sellers cannot be forced to fix anything from the inspection report. However, it’s in the seller’s best interest to handle the repairs anyway.

Aside from negotiating a lower purchase price, the most common solution following an inspection requires the seller to pay for certain repairs as part of their purchase agreement. In the event where a seller breaks this contract by refusing to make the necessary repairs, the buyer is able to walk away from the sale, bringing the seller back to the drawing board.

What Is A Reasonable Request For Home Repairs?

So what is a reasonable repair request? In general, it’s reasonable to request repairs for any problems in the home that lead to health or safety concerns. Consider the home’s key systems – from plumbing to electrical – as well as the home’s main foundation and structure. If you would feel at risk without an issue being resolved, it’s probably safe to ask for it to be repaired.

Common Repairs Needed After A Home Inspection

The most common repairs following a home inspection relate to the home’s key systems and overall structure. After all, no one wants to purchase a property if they know it’s full of electrical hazards. The following is a list of the most frequently requested home repairs. These items are considered reasonable to ask for should they pop up on your inspection report.

Roofing Damage

Broken shingles, leakage and other roofing damage can be a reasonable repair request, as these types of problems can lead to additional home damage – and a high cost of repairs – down the road.

Heating, Ventilation And Air Conditioning (HVAC) Problems

HVAC problems are concerning for more reasons than one. First and foremost, no one wants to be stuck in their house on a hot summer day without working A/C. But more importantly, broken HVAC systems are a major safety concern and can result in fires and other dangerous situations.

Electrical And Fire Hazards

Electrical and fire hazards are also concerning. You want to feel safe in your new home, so things like sparking outlets should be analyzed and repaired as soon as possible. These types of problems can also lead to gas leaks and other dangerous situations, so it’s well within your rights to ask for these issues to be addressed.

Plumbing Issues

Another key system in any home is the plumbing. Plumbing problems are more than just an inconvenience – they can lead to broken pipes, water leaks and ultimately damage other parts of the home, so make sure to prioritize these types of repairs in your request.

Pest Infestation

Skilled home inspectors will also be able to recognize signs of pest infestation, although in some cases you may need to hire a separate professional to identify pest damage. But if pest problems are on the inspection report, it’s probably a good idea to include this on your list of requests.

Structural Issues

Structural issues, such as problems with the foundation or improperly functioning windows and doors, can be another issue to watch out for.

What Is An Unreasonable Request For Home Repairs?

Now that we’ve covered the most common and reasonable requests for home repairs, it’s time to look at the other end of the spectrum. Making unreasonable repair requests can hurt your chances as a buyer, so we recommend staying away from the following requests.

Cosmetic Issues

Grease spots, old stains and chipped paint may not be easy on the eyes, but at the end of the day these cosmetic issues are easy enough for a buyer to correct, and therefore aren’t worth the seller’s time to fix. Asking for cosmetic changes can put the home sale in jeopardy, so consider writing these items down on your own list of repairs for after closing instead.

Garages, Sheds And Extra Buildings

Asking to repair a garage, shed or extra building on the property is also seen as an unreasonable request. This is because the primary structure on the property is the reason you made an offer. Any additional structures are considered extra on top of the main home, and therefore these repairs are not a top priority.

Small Cracks In The Basement Or Driveway

Try not to sweat the small stuff. If something as small as a crack in the driveway or basement would deter you from buying a home, you probably shouldn’t be buying that home in the first place. These repairs once again fall into the category of cosmetic issues, and therefore will not be seen as a reasonable request by the seller.

Loose Fixtures

Loose doorknobs, railings or other fixtures can be inconvenient, but once again, not all that complicated to fix. Providing a short list of crucial repairs is the best way to reach an agreement with the seller, so stay away from nit-picking and consider fixing these issues yourself. Besides, this may be an opportunity to upgrade to newer fixtures that better fit your home’s aesthetic.

Who Pays For The Repairs?

Because every case is different, different factors determine who will pay for home repairs following the home inspection. As we’ve discussed, the seller is not required to pay for such repairs, but it’s in their best interest to do so if it means securing the sale. In some cases, the seller may put cash toward the repairs, while other sellers may choose to negotiate a lower sales price instead. The following are the primary factors that will impact who pays for home repairs.

The Contract

In any home sale, the buyer and seller outline contingencies in the contract. A home inspection contingency helps to determine who covers the cost of repairs and states whether either party can choose to walk away from the sale.

Let’s say you’re moving at full speed to buy a house, but the home inspection uncovers some seriously concerning defects. With a home inspection contingency, you have the ability to walk away from the sale with no penalty within a certain time frame.

The Repair Type

They type of repair you request will also determine who covers the costs. Crucial repairs relating to the home’s structure and systems will typically be covered by the seller, as these repairs are considered essential for the home to function properly. Other, less urgent repairs may fall on the buyer.

State Regulations And Laws

Some states have specific, nonnegotiable laws when it comes to home repairs. For this reason, it’s important to consult with your real estate agent prior to determining which repairs you want to request, as they will be able to tell the buyer and seller the rules from their specific state.

The Bottom Line

Remember: don’t sweat the small stuff. Unless you’re buying a newly constructed home, there’s bound to be a few issues and repairs you’ll need to address yourself as the buyer. When considering which repairs are reasonable requests, ask yourself: Is it a health or safety concern? How severe is the damage? How much would it cost to fix the issue yourself?

And remember, your real estate agent is there to make the process as easy for you as possible. They have a wealth of knowledge they can share, so when in doubt, lean on them for guidance.

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Katie Ziraldo

Katie Ziraldo is a writer focused on financial learning for current and future homeowners. She found her love of writing through her experience working with various newspapers, such as the Detroit Free Press. Her financial literacy stems from her four years as a Recruiter, when she learned the details of every role in the mortgage process. As a writer, she uses that knowledge to create relevant content for homeowners to help them reach their goals.