Don’t sweat the small stuff when buying a home
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.
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@ kw.com and visit The Wayne Megill Team site at http://www. waynemegillteam.com.