Looking to buy a home? The cost of making the repairs a home inspection brings up can quickly drain your budget, but that doesn’t mean you should ask the seller to fit the bill for everything. Here are some repairs you should never ask the seller to make.
#1 Cosmetic Issues
No home is going to be perfect for anyone. That's a simple fact. And, you're quickly going to be pegged as an unreasonable buyer if you ask for the seller to fix cosmetic issues. Maybe the deck needs staining, maybe the paint needs to be touched up, or maybe a cracked tile catches your eye and bothers you a little. But, these aren't the pressing issues you should be asking the seller to address.
Cosmetic issues are things you can handle yourself quickly, cheaply, and to your own liking. Listing them out and requesting the seller to take care of them is just going to make it seem like your nit picking, hard to please, and making their lives difficult. Don't bother!
The seller's agent is always going to discuss your requests with them directly, and they are going to ask one question that will determine whether or not your requests deserve to be addressed: If the house was back on the market, is it reasonable to assume the next buyer would ask for these things too? Cosmetic issues will always get a big "No!"
#2 Anything under $100
Talk about being nit picky. If a seller's agent sees that a buyer is trying to ask for a little things to be addressed--"little things" being items under $100--it's going to seem more like a waste of time than a bargaining opportunity. The minor issues you find that are under a few hundred dollars to repair should generally not be on your request list.
If you include these items, your request list can quickly grow to include dozens or hundreds of little things that you want to be fixed, but both you and the seller will only have so much time to complete the sale and close the deal. Even if you think about it and you think it will only cost a little bit to fix and take maybe a few hours out of their weekend, hitting the seller up with multiple repair requests will easily make them feel overwhelmed.
If it's cheap and it won't take much time, do it yourself later on. This is especially true when it's a seller's market and they probably could get another buyer lined up quickly.
#3 Failed Seals On Windows
Although a failed seal can drastically effect the energy efficiency of said window, this is another small, nit picky item that you should not ask to be fixed as a buyer. The problem is quite common and you'll probably be able to see it before you even call in an inspector (just look for foggy glass).
Now, if many windows need to be replaced all together, that might be something to consider asking for or something to factor into your offer price. Explain it to the agent, but don't ask for failed seals to be fixed whether there's one or ten.
#4 Renovations You're Planning
Maybe you're walking through a house and all sorts of things come to mind that could be upgraded or renovated to make it just perfect. Just remember: it's not the seller's job to turn it into your dream home. They want to sell the home as-is for the best possible price. Sure, they may have listed it knowing they may have to make some needed repairs, but they aren't going to renovate or change anything for you that drastically.
You should not try to ask for repairs that relate to your planned renovations. That will put the sale at risk and it's totally unnecessary. If you plan on renovating, you knew that upfront and you should have factored those costs into your offer. If you didn't be careful about trying to backtrack on the price by asking for a lot of repairs from the seller.
#5 Cracks in Concrete
Concrete is going to crack by nature, and while these cracks should ideally be addressed as soon as they happen and repaired professionally to prevent them from growing, most homeowners overlook it. Whether it's cracks in the concrete outside in the driveway or downstairs in the basement, asking for this to be fixed is asking for trouble with the deal.
You can call in a professional once you get the house to address this common problem. The cracks are, in general, purely aesthetic although leaving them without repair will make them grow. The only exception is if you find cracks in the walls of the cellar, as that could relate to a structural issue. The home inspector can determine if the wall has shifted or if the size of the crack is signifiant.
If it's just "spider" cracks, you don't have much to worry about, and you shouldn't worry the seller with it either.
#6 Loose Fixtures
Does the doorknob jiggle? That's something you can fix yourself. Just like missing handles on the cabinet or even a light that's hanging a little lopsided. On the other hand, you should be inclined to bring loose and unstable railings to the attention of the seller as this could be potentially unsafe.
Ask the home inspector to take a closer look as the stairwell or deck may not be up to code, may be improperly secured, or may have some other more significant underlying issues. If that's not the case and it's just a screw loose, fix it yourself.
#7 Minor Water Damage
That's right, water damage happens! When water gets into building materials like drywall, it can end up looking pretty bad. In fact, you'll probably notice it before you make an offer and your home inspector is most certainly going to point it out to you and determine the severity of the problem. If the effects are significant, they will let you know and you should request appropriate repairs.
However, if the water damage is minor and merely cosmetic, you should not stress about it. You can fix it later, which means the seller should not have to worry about it. It's not a pressing issue, but if it kills the deal for you, back out. You're going to see water stains in most lived in homes, especially in the ceiling over the bathroom. Often this is caused by a toiler that's overflowed or a kid who opened the shower curtain with the water running.
A home inspector will quickly discern if the water damage is a fixable or ongoing issue that needs to be addressed. Now, on exception is water stains coming from ice dames. This is a problem that your home inspector should investigate completely and find a way to help prevent them from occurring again in the future.
#8 Non-functional Switches and Sockets
Are there minor electrical nuances in the home you're looking at? Don't waste your time asking the seller to fix them. If a light switch doesn't work, that's an easy fix that may be annoying to deal with, but can be addressed later on without issue. Your inspector will make sure to check that it's just a dead outlet and not a sign of a major electrical problem.
So long as your inspector can confirm that the home's electrical is in good working order and up to code, you shouldn't bug the seller about a broken switch or missing GFCI outlet.
#9 External Buildings
Especially in a competitive marketplace, you are simply going to have to let some things go when you're purchasing a property. Generally, an outbuilding should be considered a "bonus" and you might not even bother having it inspected. Sheds are prone to rot and garages generally get dirty with time. Usually, outbuildings aren't going to be maintained as well as the home itself.
If there are serious issues of course, it might be reasonable to ask for them to be addressed, but if you're in a neighborhood where every buyer is looking at a home with a less than perfect garage or shed, you should probably let it go.
#10 Cosmetic Landscaping & Minor Yard Problems
Don't go asking the seller to replant the flower beds or put in a fountain just for you. This might sound like common sense, but many buyers try to get sellers to perfect a house to their liking while negotiation. You should never do this in a seller's market, but even in a buyer's market, you need to be careful.
Maybe there's a missing rock in the border, a few tree limbs hanging in the back yard--are other buyers going to bother the seller with these requests? If the answer is a sound no, don't go asking for it. It could cost you the deal!
The Author Adam Clark is the owner and operator of Shield Guard Home Inspections. Adam Clark is a local Home Inspector located in Albany NY that has performed over 6000 Inspections
Phone: (518) 720-7152