How to Navigate Home Buying: Dealing with Repairs Before You Purchase

When buying a home, whether it’s your first, second, or third, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the process. You may have to deal with negotiations regarding which repairs a seller is responsible for, how issues should be dealt with, or how much credit you’re owed. Here are some ways you can be prepared before you make an offer on a property.

Buying As-Is
If you see a home listed “as-is,” there is nothing to negotiate, no matter what issues the property may have. Indeed, these problems might be anything from structural flaws and a faulty roof to a damaged electrical system. That means, of course, that you have to have an accurate idea of the house itself before committing to a potentially major financial undertaking. After all, if the entire home needs to be renovated, it could cost you thousands of dollars—the bathroom, for example, can cost at least $9,000 to renovate. This is not a decision that you should make without extensive planning, as the risks you become exposed to with an as-is property are significant.

Do Your Due Diligence
With that in mind, you’ll need to know what to look out for when getting the home inspected. Of course, bringing in a general home inspector can be an asset, especially as they usually cost $278-$390 on average. Still, you may want to get additional checks to ensure every base is covered. For instance, you’ll likely need to pay extra to get the house checked for asbestos, radon, and termites. Ideally, every big-ticket item potentially in need of repairs should be checked out before any paperwork is signed. Issues don’t need to be deal-breakers, and you have options if you find problems.

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What the Seller Should Fix
One such course of action is to agree to have the seller address any repairs before you buy. In fact, experts suggest that a seller should fix several things before selling the house. In particular, sellers should ensure the structure of the house is free from serious damage, the air conditioning units work, the appliances are operating correctly, and the outlets are grounded. Remember, the most expensive renovations can cost thousands, and you don’t want to be responsible for that. However, you should only make requests for improvements that are essential, not necessarily aesthetic changes, such as frayed carpets or scuffed floorboards. Even if the seller does not agree to fix any issues before you move in, you still have other options.

Reaching a Settlement
You could try negotiating the price or getting credit toward the repairs. For the best chance at reaching a fair deal, you must know the local market. This way, you can prepare an offer that’s competitive but takes known issues into account. Yet, that doesn’t mean you should focus on only the negative aspects as you could make your proposal stand out by detailing why you love the house. Still, don’t be disheartened if your first effort is rejected by the owner. Instead, talk to your real estate agent about where a good compromise lies, and make a counteroffer that is suitable for both the seller and yourself. If possible, have your broker talk to the seller’s agent to learn if anyone else is making offers on the home. After all, if there are multiple bids on the table, a seller may be less willing to accept large price cuts.

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Don’t let the buying process overwhelm you. With the right research, and knowing when and what to negotiate, you can make things simpler. You deserve to find the house of your dreams.


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