After all the effort to choose a property, the Home Inspection Report is bad! You researched agents, and looked at houses. Then you analyzed, and evaluated, and deliberated. You asked for input from friends and family. And maybe you pulled out some of your hair. You finally made the decision to go for it, and then you suffered through agonizing negotiations. But, after all that, the home inspection report is bad! Now what do you do? Don’t panic! Here are step-by-step guidelines for dealing with this new challenge.

Step One: Evaluate the Inspection Report

Is the report really that bad?  Inspection reports don’t focus on what is good about a property.  Their whole purpose is to highlight the negatives, and every property has flaws. Some inspectors even tell buyers before the inspection begins that they will certainly be depressed when they first read the report.  So the question becomes: “Is it really that bad?”

Find out whether the problems can be addressed. Some problems literally can’t be fixed without leveling and re-building the property.  An example is certain cases of slanting floor and doorways caused by settling. Other problems could be fixed with the cooperation of the condo association, but alas, they either won’t allow the necessary work, or won’t promise to do it.  An example is committing to a timely fix of a leaky roof that is causing problems in the penthouse apartment you’ve had inspected. 

For problems that can be fixed, evaluate cost, timing, and the probability that you will be satisfied with the results. You can do this by researching on the internet, talking to vendors and repair-persons, plus discussing with your buyer’s agent and with personal contacts whose experience and opinions you trust. Then you have to do a bit of introspection to determine how you feel about it all.  Some people have phobias of things like mice or mold.  And for them, no amount of fixing is going to enable them to live in a property with these things. Other people simply focus on the big picture:  the property condition and the cost of fixes.  And of course, the cost may be emotional as well as financial.

Step Two: Decide How to Followup

One possibility after you’ve evaluated the report is – obviously – to withdraw from the purchase.  At the other extreme, you can decide to just proceed. This makes sense  if your evaluation has revealed that the problems are “normal” for the age of the house.  Or, if the seller has made it clear that he will accept a backup offer unless you accept the house “as is”. 

There are also a number of in-between options: You can ask the seller to give you a price reduction (or cash back at closing) to pay for you to do the fixing.  You can ask the seller to do the fixing.  Or you can do a combination:  ask for money for some items, ask the seller to fix other items, and/or accept some items as is.  

Please note that inspection reports may contain comments that range from the sub-trivial to the catastrophic.  Asking the seller for a $5,000 price reduction for a new roof is very different than asking him to replace the missing switch-plate for a light in the basement which costs under $10.  It’s usually not a good idea to dilute the focus on the serious issues by including the very minor ones.

Step Three: Proceed to Act on Your Decision. 

If you want to back out, or if you want to proceed with the property “as is”, just notify your agent and/or the seller.  Then you will be all set. But, if you are looking for money and/or repairs, you probably will have to negotiate those things.  And, at some point, you may have to decide how much you are willing to compromise with the seller before you back out.

Conclusion

It’s obviously very problematic to buy a property that has serious problems with which you are not equipped to cope. That’s the stuff that comedy-horror movies are made of. And, you don’t want to live out one of those movies!  Less obvious, but also very problematic, is losing out on a house that you love because you are unnecessarily scared by an alarmist inspector or because you are overly fearful and ignorant of the world of home repairs. So, do your evaluation (Step Two above) very carefully, and make an informed decision that will serve you well.

Chris Kostopoulos has built three houses for himself and his family. He has also worked closely with many developers. He is a great person to have on your side as your buyer’s agent when you get your inspection report.  Contact Chris at 857-829-0282 or Chris@Isellmass.com before you start your search.  That way he will be there for you during your search as well as when you get the inspection report.

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