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How to Deal With Significant Issues Discovered in a Home Inspection

Finding the perfect place to call home can be a real time-consuming and laborious endeavor, especially if you’re in a market where inventory is a little tight. But even when you find the right property, the deal isn’t done yet until a home inspection has been conducted to make sure you’re not buying into a money pit.

It’s pretty common for a few minor issues to be uncovered during these inspections, such as leaky faucets or slight air leaks in the window sills. But what happens when major problems are discovered that can both compromise the integrity of the structure and be super expensive to repair?

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What Types of Issues Could Compromise a Sealed Deal?

It’s one thing to discover a few cracks in the bathroom tiles or a shaky handrail on the stairs leading to the backyard. These are minor issues that cost very little to fix or replace. But the following issues are a lot more significant, and definitely warrant a subsequent chat with the sellers before you decide to sign off on your home inspection contingency.

Faulty electrical wiring – This is one of the more common issues discovered in home inspections, and is definitely something that needs attention. Electrical panels that aren’t equipped to handle all the electrical appliances in the home, or overfused wiring that isn’t terminated in a proper electric box are all hazards that can lead to a fire.

Mold – Breathing in mold on a daily basis over a long period of time can lead to serious allergic reactions, asthma, and even permanent lung damage. Many times, you wouldn’t even know that mold is growing in a home just based on a few visits. Even the neatest and cleanest homes may have mold lurking. 

Leaky roof – Tiny leaks in a roof that are not dealt with right away can turn into messy problems, especially when it starts to cause water damage on the home’s components.

Cracks in the foundation – Small cracks in the foundation of the home are usually nothing to be concerned about. But large, gaping cracks can compromise the structural integrity of the home, and invite water and termites in to cause further damage to the home.

There are obviously more issues that could be grounds for a reduced purchase price or a scrapped deal altogether. Thanks to home inspection contingencies, you’re protected in the event that certain issues arise that are potential deal-breakers. If your home inspector brings a few major problems to your attention, you’ve got options.

Renegotiate the Sale Price

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If certain repairs are going to have to be made before you move in, they’re obviously going to come at a price. Since your initial accepted offer was based on the condition that you perceived the home to be in, it’s only fair to go back to the table and renegotiate on a lower price to compensate for the additional funds needed to make these repairs. That’s part of what a home inspection clause is for.

Basically, what you’re really asking the seller for is credit for the work that needs to be done. Whether the money comes in the form of a lower purchase price or a closing cost credit, you’ve got the option to ask.

Most likely, the sellers are not going to want to take on extra work of rectifying any problems with the home themselves. They’ve likely got much of their belongings already packed, and are ready to move on to their next abode. Not only that, but sellers likely won’t want to put themselves in a position to do the work on their own, only to have the buyers express their dissatisfaction with the results.

The majority of real estate agents typically recommend that their buyer clients ask for the cash value of the repairs needed instead of asking the sellers to complete the repairs before the move-in date.

Of course, the sellers can flat-out reject your request for an extension of credit to cover the cost of repairs. At that point, it’s up to you whether you’re fine with moving ahead with the deal anyway and absorbing the costs yourself.

Gauge the Situation Before Making Demands

Before you approach the negotiating table again, make sure to assess the situation first. For starters, consider whether or not the issues found by the home inspector were already priced into the deal. Sometimes sellers will take repairs into account before coming up with a listing price, or specify that the home is being sold “as is.” Of course, unknown and undisclosed issues that are significant in nature can change all that, but it’s important to understand how the sellers came up with their price nonetheless.

Walk Away From the Deal

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Sometimes a meeting of the minds is impossible, or the issues are just too much to accept. If the sellers won’t budge on the price, and you’re not willing to accept the house as is without some form of monetary compensation, you’ve got the option to bail on the contract altogether. Of course, that’s a last resort if all else fails, but it’s your right if your contract is protected with a home inspection contingency.

The Bottom Line

Before you stress out after hearing about a few major problems with the home you just agreed to buy, make sure you take a step back to get a good look at the big picture. A home inspection is an important component when it comes to protecting yourself, but you should be realistic and reasonable in your approach to your home inspection negotiations. If it’s a great house at a decent price, and you’re not taking on too much risk, it still might be worth salvaging a deal. An experienced real estate agent and home inspector can help you get through it all.