It is highly recommended for buyers to get inspections once they are in contract for a home. In today’s market, which is typically a seller’s market, buyers are paying top dollar for these homes. So when an inspection reveals that the home is not perfect (by the way, NO HOME IS PERFECT – not even brand new homes), buyers might start to freak out and request all of the repairs. Here’s what is reasonable vs. unreasonable to ask for, so you don’t end up being “that guy.”
Side note before we dive in: all real estate contracts are written “as-is,” meaning the seller is NOT obligated to fix anything or give a credit for repairs. As a seller, you can minimize or eliminate this “second round” of negotiations by performing these inspections before listing your property. This way, you can price your home accurately right off the bat, and buyers are aware of any repairs before they write an offer.
IT IS REASONABLE to ask that the primary systems are working.
The foundation, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems should be functioning correctly as of the date they were installed in the home. It is NOT reasonable to ask that these systems be brought up to today’s code, especially if the home was built 50 years ago. A home inspection will tell whether or not these systems are working property, but they do not come with estimate costs. A licensed tradesperson would have to further inspect the issue and provide a estimate.
IT IS REASONABLE to ask for pest and roof clearance.
Unlike home inspections, pest reports are standardized across all pest companies. They are broken up into Sections One, Two, and Three. Typically, Section One items are remedied by the seller, and Section Two items can be taken care of the buyer after they own the property.
- Section One contains items where there is visible evidence of active infestation, infection or conditions that have resulted in or from infestation of infection.
- Section Two items are conditions deemed likely to lead to infestation or infection but where no visible evidence of such was found.
- Section Three, also known as Further Inspection items are defined as recommendations to inspect area(s) which during the original inspection did not allow the inspector access to complete the inspection and cannot be defined as Section I or Section II.
A roof inspection will come with recommended repair items and an estimate. Roofing companies will typically offer a roof certification, which warranties the roof for a period of time (usually 2-3 years). If the roof is beyond repair, a new roof will be recommended. An estimate can be obtained and buyers can factor this into their negotiations.
IT IS NOT REASONABLE to ask for abatement.
Older homes, which are very common in Sacramento, may contain hazardous materials like asbestos and lead-based paint. Sellers and agents are required to disclose any known hazards, and buyers can get inspections that test for these items, but it is NOT reasonable to ask that the sellers remove it.
IT IS NOT REASONABLE to ask for upgrades.
Buyers are purchasing the home with applicable building codes of the time of construction or the time that permitted upgrades were constructed and approved by the local building inspector. An older home may have an electrical system that does not meet today’s code. However, as long as it is working correctly, it is NOT reasonable to request that the system be brought up to code. Same goes for plumbing, HVAC, foundation, and energy efficiency systems. Buyers will have to add this to the honey-do list or just factor the cost of bringing the system up to code into their next remodel.
IT IS NOT REASONABLE to ask for cosmetic changes.
This is probably the most insulting request a buyer could make. Things like changing paint, flooring, countertops, and landscaping should be kept on that honey-do list and factored into your original offer.
In any negotiation, keep it realistic and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. In a heated situation, take some time to think about it and sleep on it. And of course, seriously consider the advice of your Realtor!