Don’t sweat the small stuff when buy­ing a home

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - Mau­reen Hughes On Real Es­tate

The mar­ket is hot, homes are scarce and sell­ers have the op­tion to be picky. If you are in ne­go­ti­a­tions for a home pur­chase, send­ing the wrong mes­sage can be detri­men­tal to your buy­ing rep­u­ta­tion and could land you on the outs with a seller. Some­times in­spec­tion re­ports come back with a laun­dry list of items that are rec­om­mended to be fixed. While some are ma­jor (wa­ter dam­age, sewer/ well pump is­sues, heat­ing sys­tem fail­ure, etc.) and should im­pact the ne­go­ti­a­tions, all too of­ten buy­ers look to nickel and dime sell­ers with mi­nor re­pairs that can frus­trate or even side­line a sale. To­day we are go­ing to talk about the five things you should never ask a seller to re­pair, in or­der to set your­self up for a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the seller of your home.

Cos­metic up­dates

Un­less you are buy­ing a brand new home, you are buy­ing a used home. You must re­mem­ber that if a seller was plan­ning to fix small items in need of re­pair, they would have done so be­fore putting the home on the mar­ket. For homes with a sig­nif­i­cant amount of “up­dat-

ing” needed, the price is usu­ally ad­justed based on the con­di­tion of the home. For items that fall un­der purely cos­metic is­sues, it is best to make th­ese up­dates your­self, in­stead of ask­ing to have them re­paired be­fore the sale. You will most likely get a cold shoul­der from a seller if you ask for things such as hav­ing rooms painted, base­boards up­dated, deck­ing stained, win­dows re­placed, etc.

Items in ren­o­va­tion area

If you know in ad­vance you will be ren­o­vat­ing a bath­room, kitchen or any other area of your home, do not ask the sell­ers to re­pair any items in this zone. Un­less it is a po­ten­tially large haz­ard (wa­ter dam­age, mold, ac­tive leaks, etc) leave this area for your fu­ture re­pairs. If the area is in sig­nif­i­cantly bad shape, you could ask for a price ne­go­ti­a­tion in­stead of ask­ing for the re­pairs to be com­pleted prior to set­tle­ment.


Land­scap­ing items aren’t a deal breaker. Ev­ery home is go­ing to have things you don’t par­tic­u­larly love, and if shrubs and plant­ings are on your list, th­ese items should be taken care of af­ter the sale and not added to a re­pair list for the seller to rem­edy. You will do well to hire your own pro­fes­sional or take the time to craft your land­scap­ing your­self in or­der to truly get the look you want. Un­less there are large, loom­ing dead trees over the home or dan­ger­ous is­sues on the in­spec­tion re­port, leave land­scap­ing on your new home to do list.

Nickel & dime

If a home in­spec­tor doesn’t take no­tice of small is­sues that you have with the home, it may not be worth bring­ing up those is­sues with the seller. Un­less it is a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous is­sue or one that could be a sign of sig­nif­i­cant dam­age, let small items go and plan to take care of them your­self.


A home in­fested with ter­mites is a huge is­sue. Some older homes with light in­fes­ta­tion can be treated min­i­mally, but for the most part, one ter­mite means there are more hid­ing and can wreak havoc on your home (and your wal­let). To truly erad­i­cate the is­sue, it takes mul­ti­ple treat­ments and spe­cial­ized pro­fes­sion­als to take care of the prob­lem. Some lenders and in­surance com­pa­nies won’t ap­prove a home with­out a clear ter­mite re­port. Most sell­ers won’t want to un­der­take such an ex­pense - and you might not want to tackle it ei­ther. This is a sit­u­a­tion to con­sult with your re­al­tor, a ter­mite spe­cial­ist and your own re­search - and con­sider walk­ing away.

While there is no hard and fast rule to fol­low as to how many re­pairs you should ap­proach a seller with, it is ad­vis­able to stick to a sim­ple four-point sys­tem as your guide. The four ar­eas that are typ­i­cally al­ways ac­cept­able to go back to a seller with when prob­lems arise are: elec­tri­cal is­sues, roof leaks/re­place­ment, plumb­ing/leaks and HVAC is­sues. If you chose to ask for re­pairs above and be­yond th­ese ar­eas, do so in a way that doesn’t feel over­whelm­ing to a seller and be sure to go over your list sev­eral times to in­sure you are only ask­ing for items that you MUST have re­paired be­fore the sale. Oth­er­wise, omit items that could be taken care of on your own time.

Mau­reen Hughes is the Lead List­ing Spe­cial­ist of The Wayne Megill Real Es­tate Team of Keller Wil­liams Brandy­wine Val­ley in West Ch­ester. For buyer or seller rep­re­sen­ta­tion, or for more per­spec­tive on the lo­cal and na­tional real es­tate mar­ket, please email mau­reen­hughes@ and visit The Wayne Megill Team site at http://www. wayne­megill­

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