When buying a home, it’s important to be attentive to necessary repairs and maintenance tasks that you may be on the hook for. If the seller neglects these fixes, you’ll have to pay for them out of your pocket after taking over the home. Deciding what to do about maintenance issues is a tricky part of the homebuying process. Here’s a quick guide to home repairs and how to negotiate costs on major fixes as a potential buyer.

Gather Information on Major Repair Issues

Start by gathering as much information as possible on any major repairs that could become an issue for you. You should be especially wary of the condition of big-ticket items like the roof, HVAC system, and water heater. Repairing these essential home components can be pricey. According to Forbes, you’ll likely be responsible for these major repairs. Make sure you get a detailed home inspection before buying so you can factor repair costs into your budget or plan to negotiate with the seller.

Your home inspector will estimate the age of the roof and let you know if there are any problems that you should be concerned about. Shingles that are broken, curling, cracked, or missing will require attention. Your inspector should also look for signs that the roof is leaking, as well as evidence of mold or algae. If it turns out that the roof is in poor condition, talk to a roofing contractor to find out how much the repair will cost. You may be able to negotiate with the seller for a discount on the sale price or to share the cost of the repair.

Understand the Seller’s Responsibilities

While the seller doesn’t have to make any repairs, it is up to them to disclose any known home defects to the buyer. Depending on your region, you may be able to cancel the homebuying transaction if you discover serious problems that the seller did not tell you about before closing the sale. If the home is for sale as is, the seller may not be willing to make any repairs at all. It’s worth noting that people selling as-is homes are still accountable for letting you know about major flaws in the property.

Make Repair Requests

After you’ve had a home inspection done, it might be a good idea to ask the seller to make repairs before you buy the home. It’s acceptable to ask the seller to handle major problems. Most buyers would rather not go through the hassle of fixing something large like a roof or plumbing issue, even if they can get a discount on the sale price. The seller may be more inclined to make repairs if you offer to share some of the costs with them.

Limit your repair requests to major problems. Buyers should avoid asking for minor fixes, cosmetic repairs, and items that you plan to renovate anyway. If the property is in high demand, it’s best to deal with smaller maintenance issues yourself. Just keep in mind that water damage and termite issues may turn into massive problems. In some cases, it may be better to walk away than request the seller to make these repairs.

Consider Asking for Repair Credits

One option that you have as a buyer is to ask your seller for a credit at closing to cover any repairs you will need to make to the home. This can be a good idea if the issue is not a deal-breaker or you want control over the repair. Your moneylender may require that certain maintenance issues—such as termite problems and water damage—are paid for and completed before closing. The buyer may also reject your request for a credit if their home is in high demand.

Buying a home that needs repairs takes careful consideration and good negotiation skills. Some sellers may be willing to make repairs, while others would rather lower the sale price or offer a credit at closing. It’s smart to work with a good real estate agent who can advise you on the best course of action for your specific situation.

Auth: Natalie Jones
Photo by Unsplash

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