Negotiating home inspection items when buying

Negotiating home inspection items when buying

Negotiating Home Inspection Items When Buying: A Step-by-Step Guide

“If you were ever caught in a wild storm, would you take shelter under a tree? Probably not. Likewise, entering a home buying deal without a thorough inspection in place is like inviting unnecessary risks. However, identifying potential issues is only half the battle. The real challenge lies in negotiating those home inspection items to ensure that you’re not setting yourself up for financial or physical disaster later down the line. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll teach you precisely how to navigate these negotiations and secure your dream home without any lurking nightmares.”

Negotiating home inspection items can be a crucial part of the home buying process. Some tips for successful negotiation include prioritizing critical repairs, being respectful and professional at all times, using the inspection report as evidence, considering the seller’s motivations, being willing to compromise, involving professionals when necessary, and timing the negotiation carefully. Overall, it’s important to approach negotiations with an open mind and a willingness to work together towards a mutually beneficial solution.

Understand the Home Inspection Contract

As a homebuyer, it is important to familiarize yourself with the home inspection contract before you sign. This document outlines the terms of the inspection, what is expected from both parties, and any limitations to what can be assessed during the inspection.

For example, if you are buying an older home with a history of foundation issues, you may want to ensure that the inspector is qualified to assess these types of problems. It is also essential to note that home inspectors are not liable for issues that may arise after the inspection is completed.

In addition, there are some states where home inspectors are required to have a license or certification before conducting an inspection. These requirements help ensure that inspectors have received proper training and have met certain standards of knowledge and experience. Therefore, as a buyer, it is crucial to research your state’s requirements and verify that your inspector has met them.

Some may argue that understanding the contract is unnecessary because inspections are usually limited in scope and cannot reveal all potential issues a property might have. However, even though inspections cannot guarantee a perfect house, they provide valuable information about potential issues, which can help buyers make informed decisions.

Now that we understand why it is essential to review the home inspection contract let’s explore what information is included within this document.

What is Included in the Contract?

The home inspection contract should specify what areas of the property will be assessed during the inspection and what systems will be checked. Typically inspectors examine several areas including electrical systems, plumbing systems, HVAC systems, roofing materials, exterior structures such as walls and foundations, windows and doors.

The contract may also cover limitations on the inspection process such as inaccessible areas or parts of a property that are hidden behind finished surfaces. Examples include evidence of termite, insect or rodent infestation behind walls, improper installation of insulation that covers electrical wiring violates code, or the presence of mold inside walls.

Think of the home inspection contract as a job description for the inspector. Just like in a job, the more detailed and comprehensive the contract is, the better your inspector can provide quality service matching his/her skills and ensure you as the buyer receive an accurate report.

Importantly, you need to review what’s not covered in a Home Inspection including things like appliances or equipment that are not part of the permanent structure. The inspection may also omit areas deemed too dangerous to access such as water wells or septic tanks.

As a potential buyer, it is important to ask questions about items that are excluded from the inspection – these can be costly surprises if they’re not discovered until after purchase.

  • A survey from real estate technology company Porch found that homebuyers saved an average of $14,000 on the final price of their home when they successfully negotiated after the inspection.
  • The National Association of Home Builders reports that common issues found during home inspections, such as broken HVAC systems, plumbing issues and structural problems, can cost between $300 to $5000 to repair or replace.
  • According to a study by the American Society of Home Inspectors, approximately 88% of home buyers request a building inspection before purchasing a property, highlighting its importance in the negotiation process.

Assessing Home Inspection Findings

One of the most essential things homebuyers need to do after receiving a home inspection report is to evaluate the findings. This process requires careful examination and a critical eye for detail. You’ll want to ensure that you understand what each item means in terms of potential impact and determine whether it’s something you’re willing to take on or negotiate with the seller.

For instance, suppose the inspector identifies issues with an HVAC system. In that case, you should familiarize yourself with the cost of repairs, including parts and labor, as well as ongoing maintenance needs. If the system is old and presents significant repair costs higher than its replacement value, it might be a good idea to assess whether you’re willing to replace it yourself or request the seller to do so.

Evaluating findings also involves understanding the difference between significant versus minor issues. For example, a cosmetic problem such as peeling wallpaper wouldn’t have much impact on your decision-making compared to structural damage indicated by noticeable cracks in walls or ceilings.

Here are some key considerations when it comes to assessing and prioritizing home inspection findings.

Think of a home inspection report as a diagnosis from your doctor. Just like how your doctor gives you a list of health concerns, an inspector gives you recommendations about the property’s current condition. As with any medical diagnosis, some issues may be more severe than others and require immediate attention.

One way to evaluate findings is by determining which items are deal-breakers versus ones that you can live with. While any issue may seem significant, not all problems will necessarily need repairs or concessions from the seller. It’s imperative to keep in mind that some of these issues could be used during negotiation and leverage for obtaining better deals on the property price.

Types of Issues and Their Potential Impacts

There are a variety of issues that a home inspection report can reveal. Understanding the different types of issues and their potential impacts can help you make informed decisions when negotiating after your home inspection.

Home inspections often identify structural, safety, and health-related problems, among other things. Structural issues can present significant concerns related to the property’s foundation or walls. They can compromise the overall stability of the structure, posing risks to residents and affecting future resale value.

Electrical issues could also be potentially dangerous if not fixed promptly. Wiring defects increase fire risks inside the home. Plumbing problems, meanwhile, can lead to water damage, mold growth, and even flooding.

Other issues like pest infestations or outdated appliances may be considered as minor from one buyer’s perspective but could be a significant concern for another. For instance, an old stove may not appear crucial if you’re planning on upgrading appliances soon after moving in. However, for someone who isn’t planning on spending on renovations any time soon would want it fixed right away.

Think of potential repairs like different body parts – some are essential and need immediate attention, while others may require less urgent care. Evaluating which items are necessary versus negotiable is crucial when it comes to home inspection findings.

Understanding the types of issues identified by your inspector and evaluating their potential impact is the first step towards successful negotiation with sellers after a home inspection.

Negotiating Repairs after Home Inspection

Negotiating repairs after a home inspection is a critical step towards closing a successful real estate transaction. It involves the process of requesting and potentially receiving concessions from the seller to address issues that were discovered during the home inspection. However, this process requires tact, skill, and sometimes a little bit of luck. Here are some tips to help you navigate through this important negotiation phase.

The first thing to keep in mind when negotiating repairs after a home inspection is to be respectful and professional. Remember that you are dealing with people who may have an emotional attachment to the property. Avoid being rude, insulting, or overly aggressive during the negotiation process. Instead, approach the seller with courtesy and respect so that you can build rapport with them. This often helps ease tensions and move things along more smoothly.

Secondly, it’s essential to use the home inspection report as evidence for your requests. The inspection report should be detailed enough to identify all issues found in the house, their severity, and potential cost of repair or replacement. Requesting repairs based on assumptions or hearsays can reduce your chances of reaching an agreement with the seller. Stick to facts and use specific language when requesting repairs that need fixing.

When making your request, it’s crucial to consider the seller’s motivations. Some sellers might be more motivated to sell their property than others. If they have other interested buyers lined up, they may not be as willing to negotiate with you. Similarly, if they’ve already purchased another property or have moved out of the house, they might be more flexible on concessions since they no longer need to sell the property quickly. Understanding their motivation will help you craft a deal that works for both parties.

Keep in mind that it’s vital to be willing to compromise when negotiating repairs after a home inspection. You cannot expect to get everything on your wish list. For instance, if the seller is willing to offer a cash credit as opposed to repairing broken air conditioning system, it might be an opportunity for you to consider whether you can live with a portable AC unit as a replacement. This allows you to resolve some of the critical issues and save money in the process.

  • Negotiating repairs after a home inspection is crucial for a successful real estate transaction. Be respectful and professional, use the inspection report as evidence, consider the seller’s motivations, and be willing to compromise to reach an agreement. Using specific language and sticking to facts will increase your chances of reaching an agreement with the seller, ultimately helping you save money in the process.

Tactics and Strategies for Negotiation

Now that we’ve explored some of the critical things to keep in mind when negotiating repairs after a home inspection, let’s dive into tactics and strategies you can use to make your negotiation more effective.

One strategy to consider during negotiation is being upfront about your deal-breakers. Before starting negotiations, sit down and prioritize all identified repairs or replacements per the inspection report. Identify which ones are non-negotiable for you to move ahead with the buying process. Being transparent about these will help you communicate effectively with the seller and speed up the negotiation process.

Another strategy is involving professionals when necessary. Suppose specialized inspection is required, such as plumbing, roofing, or HVAC; bring in licensed inspectors who can confirm or dispute findings from the initial home inspector’s report. This new information can support your request from the seller and provide sufficient evidence that specific repairs are necessary.

Timing is another essential factor in negotiating after a home inspection. The right timing can mean getting more concessions, while poorly timed requests could ruin the buyer-seller relationship altogether. Buyers should aim to submit their repair request immediately upon receipt of the home inspection report so that the seller has ample time to review and respond without feeling rushed or pressured.

It would help if you also considered what concessions may work best for both parties’ interests – remember, negotiation does not always have to result in financial concessions for buyers only. Offering different strokes for different folks is one way to achieve a win-win scenario. For instance, if the seller needs to close on their new home before repairing some issues, offer a rent-back agreement or closing cost assistance upfront that allows the seller time and resources to address repairs at their own pace.

Considerations for Resolving Inspection Issues

After conducting a home inspection, you will most likely find several items that require attention. Your options will include requesting the seller to make necessary repairs, negotiating a credit to be applied to your closing costs or mortgage, or proposing other concessions. Whatever path you choose, there are still additional considerations that must be taken into account.

First and foremost, consider the conditions and terms of the purchase agreement. Are there provisions in the contract delineating how the repair requests should be handled? Is there a timeline for submitting them? By keeping things in line with the purchase agreement, you decrease the chances of entering into conflicts with your seller.

Next, prioritize which repairs need immediate attention. Focus on issues that present safety hazards or major structural problems. For example, if foundational issues arise during an inspection, these matters should take priority because they directly affect the stability of your future home.

Lastly, consider whether you have the necessary financing available to handle any forthcoming home repairs. If extensive repair work is required, which is not uncommon following a successful home inspection, it may be difficult to negotiate with the seller for a price reduction at settlement.

This point highlights why it is crucial you have a sufficient cash reserve on hand to pay for necessary repairs or improvements after purchasing your house. Looking at data provided by Home Advisor (2021), common household repairs range from $500 for repairing electrical systems to $2000 for significant plumbing overhauls. In extreme cases such as roof replacements or renovations that require contact with asbestos, unexpected costs could reach upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.

With thoughtful problem-solving techniques and a solid understanding of what you can afford financially once moved in, negotiations can often result in satisfactory resolutions.

Role of Professionals and Future Planning

The role professionals play during the home buying process is indispensable when evaluating inspection findings. Before you enter into negotiations or repairs, consider hiring specialists that can provide you with a more in-depth inspection.

An experienced general contractor can help evaluate and estimate the costs of extensive repairs, while specialized professionals such as electricians, plumbers, or HVAC experts will help assess other complicated issues. For example, if your house is more than 40 years old, seeking an evaluation by an electrical professional is highly recommended. This extra layer of expertise will ensure a thorough understanding of all your home’s needs.

In some cases, professionals detect potential health hazards. Leaded pipes are one example of a dangerous item detected during a home inspection. If there were any found in your inspection, a lead abatement expert will need to be consulted. They can test for lead levels and develop an ad-hoc remediation plan to make the affected areas safe once again.

When discussing negotiations with the seller, keep in mind their motivations and goals for the sale. Have they already bought another property? Are they under a time crunch? By evaluating the situation from their perspective and fostering dialogue that allows them to explain themselves fluidly, you will find it easier to handle any contention that emerges during negotiations.

Similar to how negotiating repairs on your car after discovering issues from your mechanic may seem daunting at first but end up saving you from further malfunctions and expenses down the road, negotiating repair credits or other concessions post-inspection will provide you with financial flexibility long after you have moved in.

With careful analysis of post-inspection findings in conjunction with professionals and home professionals’ help, negotiating necessary repair aspects won’t feel nearly as stressful.


So, when you find the home you like, you make an offer. The owner will say no. (Ha ha.)

Then, after the owner counter-offers and you counter-offer and the seller counter-offers and you agree on a price, you’ll usually have ten days to have a licensed home inspector come in to take a look at the property.

(This is written in the original offer – there are several contingencies – a home inspection contingency, a mortgage loan contingency, a condo docs contingency, and a couple others … your agent can help fill you in on them – what, buying without a buyer’s agent? Whoa.)

Often, you’ll find additional problems with the property that you didn’t know about when you first saw it. An old water heater, water in the basement, a roof that leaks.

What you do at that point is up to you.

Depending on how the contract is written, the buyers may be able to simply withdraw from the contract without penalty if they no longer want to buy the property. But if the buyers want to pursue the sale even in light of the inspection findings, there are several options.

If the defects are minor, they might simply remove their inspection contingency without asking the sellers to repair or pay for the defects. Or they could ask for a price reduction and agree to purchase the property “as is” with respect to the defects. Or they could ask the sellers to repair the problems. Or they could ask for a monetary credit at closing to offset some or all of the repair costs.

Complete story: Best way to buy home that needs repairs – By Dian Hymer, Inman News, by way of The Boston Globe

Back to Boston condos for sale homepage

Contact me to find out more about Boston condos for sale or to set up an appointment call/text 617-595-3712.

Boston condos

Boston condos for sale


For more information please contact one of our on-call agents at 617-595-3712.

Updated:  2023

Call Now