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Ask Adam: Repairs After the Home Inspection?

This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

Question: We are purchasing a home in Arlington and want to know what we should be able to ask the sellers to fix as a result of the home inspection.

There isn’t a set standard when it comes to asking for repairs. However, I can provide some tips that may help you decide for yourself.

If you are buying new construction, I highly recommend a home inspection even though many buyers will forgo this step in the home buying process. In my experience, builders are willing to take care of any reasonable request. It is your opportunity to get the home as close to perfect as possible. Even the smallest cosmetic blemishes are fair game. If the builder thinks you are taking your requests too far, I’m sure he or she will let you know.

When it comes to resale properties, things changed a little bit in 2012. The standard purchase contract was updated and paragraph 7 was modified. Previously it required that the following items be in normal working order at the time of settlement:

  • heating
  • air-conditioning
  • plumbing
  • electrical
  • appliances
  • smoke detectors

There is no longer this minimum standard unless you add it to the contract yourself. More pressure is placed on the home inspection and your ability to convince the seller that he or she should agree to your requests.

Many sellers think their home is in perfect condition so it is never easy to convince them that they should pony up for repairs on a home they are soon leaving. It will help your cause if your inspection report contains the following:

  • Well written descriptions of the issues found.
  • A typed report that is easy to read and share.
  • Photos of the issues found.

You should prioritize your list. If there are items you are planning to replace anyway or don’t mind fixing yourself, put them at the bottom of your priority list. I find that sellers are much more reasonable when they feel that you are also being reasonable with your requests. Sometimes this means focusing only on the major concerns.

Additional Tips:

  • If you have concerns about items that are cosmetic, include them in the initial contract as an addendum.
  • You are going to have a hard time convincing a seller to replace an item that is at the end of its estimated life, but working properly. You may want to consider purchasing a home warranty to cover these types of items if they fail within the next year.

Also take into consideration that if the seller makes the repairs, they are likely to do so at the least possible expense.  You may want to ask for a credit so that you can have more control over the quality of repairs. If you go this route, be sure to check with your lender first to be sure they will allow a closing cost credit.

If you decide to ask the sellers to make the repairs, I recommend using the standard Home Inspection Contingency Removal addendum. It has boilerplate language requiring that all repairs be performed by a contractor licensed to do the type of work required and receipts or other written evidence that the repairs have been completed be provided prior to the purchaser’s final walk through inspection of the property.

I hope this help. Please email me if you would like a list of the home inspectors we recommend.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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