During the sale of your home, your real estate agent can be your saving grace. After all, the inspection period on its own can be incredibly daunting. With professionals throwing around the words ‘contingencies’, ‘concessions,’ and a myriad of other confusing phrases, there’s no wonder you may need some help.
The Inspection Period in Real Estate refers to the review of the condition of the home. Contracts are often based on inspection contingencies. However, home sales may fall through if the home inspection fails and the seller refuses to make the necessary home reparations.
Our guide has a full overview of just what to expect during the inspection period of buying a new home or selling your old one. Of course, it is always wise to have an agent that you can trust to help you through the process and make it that bit easier for you.
What Is A Home Inspection?
Home inspections are typically a comprehensive review of a home that has been put up for sale.
A professional and licensed home inspector carries out the inspection. The inspection is both a visual evaluation of the home’s current conditions and a test of its systems and other important components to ensure that everything is in good condition.
After the inspection, an inspector will then draw up their report. The property inspection report outlines the current condition of the house. It can help inform buyers of any potential or major issues with the home at the time of buying.
What Is An Inspection Contingency?
As part of the seller or estate agent’s offer contract, an inspection contingency allows the buyer to conduct an inspection and then back out of the deal if they are not satisfied with the home inspection report.
Because real estate has become an ever-increasingly competitive market, buyers will often waive their right to an inspection contingency in order to make their offer more appealing to the home’s seller.
As an agent, you should encourage your buyers or any interested parties to have a thorough home inspection done to avoid experiencing buyers’ regret.
Once a client has waived their right to the inspection contingency, they may find themselves unhappy with their new home. And their choice may come at a very hefty cost. Repairs or renovations can cost thousands of dollars. So it may be wise to remind your buyers that the contingency clauses are there to protect everyone.
When a buyer has had a chance to look over the home inspection report, they can request repairs and renovations from the seller before finalizing the sale completely. Agents will typically attend the home inspection with the buyers and relay their requests to the seller directly.
Common Reasons Home Inspections Fail
Even if the home isn’t very old, sellers and agents may be surprised when a buyer’s inspection report includes a significant list of repairs.
Some of the most prevalent and major concerns that come up during inspections are Electrical or plumbing issues; roofing, foundation, or chimney issues; problems with windows or doors; mold or asbestos; and pests or termite infestations.
Wiring that isn’t up to code, frayed wiring, and incorrectly wired electrical panels are among the most prevalent electrical problems.
A buyer is within their right to request any fixes regarding significant electrical issues that may be considered safety violations. But more minor issues like small electrical fixes that will cost under $100 or loose fixtures that homeowners can easily fix with tools may be considered unreasonable fixing requests.
Some of the most costly issues that may need to be repaired after a home inspection are leaking pipes failed water heaters, sewer system issues, and water damage. This does not include minor water damage, such as a leaky tap or toilet.
Buyers may, however, request the repair of major water damage and any other plumbing problems related to drainage, sewer, septic, water, or well water issues that an inspector has noted.
An inspector may take note of roofing issues if they impede the buyer’s ability to live comfortably in the home without any major roofing repairs. Roofing issues can range from a few missing shingles to one or more leaks even or soft patches. In the case of an old or failing roof, the inspector may suggest a complete roof replacement.
Generally, buyers can request that any roofing issues be remedied before the sale can proceed.
Common complaints regarding the home’s foundation include foundation or settling cracks and water damage in the basement (where applicable). Although these issues are common, they can be quite costly to repair.
Most of these problems should be fixed by the seller, although they can discard smaller fixes like cracks in the basement floor if they have no structural impact on the home.
If chimneys are not in use or are considered a safety hazard, contractors should remove them from the home entirely. These issues are typically noted by a home inspector in older houses.
Window Or Door Issues
Home inspectors often find issues with windows or doors in homes that go up for sale. These include any window or door that can’t close or open properly, broken panes in windows or glass doors, and faulty window seals.
If a buyer requests a fix for any of these problems, they should be addressed swiftly. This is provided that the repair cost is over $100 and is not purely a cosmetic-related fixture.
Mold, Asbestos, Or Lead Paint Issues
One of the most common problems inspectors may find when reviewing a home is mold. Suppose the home is located in a particularly wet or humid climate. In that case, the repairs on mold damage could be extensive, time-consuming, and expensive.
Some more primary issues that may be found and that are extremely important to remedy as quickly as possible are any traces of asbestos or lead paint. These hazardous materials are generally more common in older homes and should be treated with caution.
There may be specific requirements listed in a contract regarding asbestos or lead paint, so as a seller or buyer’s agent, you should be mindful to disclose any knowledge of these materials inside the home.
Pest Or Termite Infestation Issues
A home sale can quickly fall through if a buyer’s private inspection turns up any form of termite damage or the presence of pest infestation or damage. This makes these issues of the utmost importance when addressing home inspection red flags for a potential buyer.
Any pest or termite damage must be attended to by the seller immediately.
After The Inspection
So, the buyer or seller’s inspection has been completed. Now what? Upon receiving the home inspection report, a buyer has one of three options. They may either:
- Back out of the sale
- Ask for credit regarding the repairs
- Request repairs are done before the sale is finalized
If the buyer wants to undertake the repairs themselves, or if the seller refuses to repair the issues found during the home inspection, the buyer has the option of requesting a credit or concession.
The credit is usually in an amount sufficient to cover the repairs. They may ask for this amount as a closing credit, which will not affect the purchase price. It will, however, reduce the net profits.
Alternatively, the buyer may request that the homeowner or seller remedy the list of repairs as issued by the inspector. They can do this either through direct contact with the seller or through a real estate agent. This will then become a condition of the sale as long as the contract is in place.
There are a few instances in which the buyer may be dissatisfied with the number of repairs and refuse to continue with the sale. This may be because the seller has refused to make the requested repairs, or the buyer is unhappy with the issues that have been reported during the home inspection period.
If this is the case, the buyer has the right to back out of the sale.
What To Do After A Poor Home Inspection
If a client or the seller receives a poor home inspection or a potential buyer backs out of the sale for that reason, both the seller and the real estate agent should think about a new course of action to take.
Firstly, you will need to decide on whether or not to make the fixes that have been detailed in the home inspection report. It can be a good idea to prioritize any repairs that may become a safety or legal concern in the future if the seller has authorized the repairs.
Repairs can be costly, so getting a quote from a few different reputable contractors may also be worth your while to find the best price. Of course, finding a contractor will depend on whether or not you will need a professional to make the necessary fixes or if they can be done yourself.
If you have an acceptable skill level in the repairs that need to be done, it may be a more cost-effective way to have them done. This depends on whether or not the buyer will agree to let you fix the issues yourself or if they insist on having a professional make the changes. It can also depend on the skill needed or the type of repair being done.
When a potential buyer approaches you with a list of reasonable repair requests, you should take note that that having the fixes done may be your best course of action. After all, the repairs are going to benefit both you and the buyer. If you refuse to do the repairs, you may lose the sale completely.
Of course, if you feel that you would rather offer a buyer credit to have them take on the repairs themselves, this can also be beneficial in the long run. The amount of credit will depend on how urgent the repairs are – it can be more costly to have a contractor come out last-minute – and how extensive they are, as well.
In most cases, buyers will be willing to make a concession regarding repairs to close a deal.
Real estate agents are crucial in negotiating the home’s repairs. Agents should generally have a good knowledge of negotiation strategies. So they should be able to help a potential buyer and the seller or client to reach a solution that can benefit both parties.
An agent will also have the appropriate knowledge on whether or not it would benefit their client or the seller more to do the repairs themselves, come to a concession with the buyer, or let the buyer walk away from the sale and re-listing the home with an exhaustive list of what needs to be repaired.
If the home is re-listed, it will have to be sold at a lower listing price or be listed as-is to avoid having a repeat situation where a buyer may be unhappy.
Agents may also be able to advise their clients on whether or not it could be beneficial to offer a home warranty that stands for a year. Home warranties will cost the seller a small amount of money. Still, it can suggest to the buyer that they can bring up any issues that may present themselves in the first year of owning the home.
Suppose you or your agent has put your home up for sale. In that case, the inspection period is an especially crucial point in the contracting and sale of the property. But, a well-trained and trustworthy agent should be able to guide you through the inspection and any recourse that may come of a poor or failed inspection.
There are tons of professional real estate agents waiting to help you sell your home and find the easiest and most hassle-free way possible to do that – leaving you to start your new journey in your own new home.
Sean is CEO at Close Concierge. His goal is two-fold: to create the best company in the world to work for & to create the number one customer service company in the world, regardless of industry. He believes achieving both of these goals happens at the same time
Sean started his career at the Boston Consulting Group, where he met his wife. They live in Chicago with their son, London. Sean graduated The Wharton School with honors.