Buyers and Sellers: Understanding How Home Inspections are Negotiation Tools

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That stunning home or vacation property may seem perfect. But Top Agents advise anyone buying or selling to prioritize the importance of professional home inspections.

For sellers, many agents recommend preparing for two separate inspections, one for your own information before listing and the second at the buyer’s obligation. For buyers, know that the listing agent is required to disclose certain major issues discovered on professional inspection. But every buyer should also order a thorough home inspection. For both buyers and sellers, inspection provides knowledge and knowledge may translate to power, time saved or money.

THE SELLER’S INSPECTION

You’ll save time before closing if you find potential “sticking points” before listing your home. Even those repairs that a seller isn’t required to fix may be worth the upfront investment. Replacing or repairing leaky faucets, worn-but-not-compromised sections of roofing or cosmetic masonry work will go a long way to build trust between you and buyers in your market. In addition, the last thing a seller wants right before closing is a major surprise. If your inspection uncovers a significant issue requiring disclosure, you’ll have an opportunity either to make repairs or to get professional estimates on cost, which you then can present to buyers either as a credit or reduction in sale price.

THE BUYER’S INSPECTION

Selecting your Inspector: Before hiring an inspector, your agent may ask if the seller conducted an inspection and who conducted it. With this knowledge, you’ll hire a different inspector. Consider some important factors when choosing your home inspector: First, remember the adage that “you get what you pay for.” This property is one of your biggest investments it’s the place you’re going to cherish as your home or vacation destination for years to come. Entrust it to a highly rated and properly licensed inspector with the appropriate professional affiliations and credentials. Your Top Agent is your best referral source, but read online reviews or ask for recommendations to learn more about inspectors and the inspection process.

As a buyer, know that a home inspection report gives you opportunities to request repairs, a lower sale price or credit for work to be done. Talk to your agent about how to make the most of your inspection report. Your agent will likely have contacts with local professionals you can consult with for fair estimates on the cost of the repairs you would like made. In extremely competitive markets however, your negotiating power may be limited to major issues requiring disclosure. Heed the advice of your agent in making necessary requests without risk of losing your dream home.

Be sure to attend the inspection or assign a proxy if you’re out of the area. Then, go above and beyond and give a luxury property the attention it deserves. Your inspector should help you find concealed issues that can help you negotiate. Honest oversights on the part of the seller, for instance can only be rectified if discovered before closing. For example, clogged exterior drainage inadvertently concealed by hardscape may become a flooding issue down the road. On the flip side, recent partial-room painting may indicate something more than the seller’s beautification efforts.

HOW SERIOUS IS IT?

Remember that a home inspection is one of the most useful items in the buyer’s toolkit, but be careful not to get overwhelmed by the results. Prioritize issues by immediacy (safety) and break down each category by cost to repair to determine how the issues may impact negotiations.