One of the most anxiety producing processes in Real Estate is the inspection negotiations. It is stressful for both parties of the transaction. Buyers are worried that they may discover that the house needs more work than they can afford (money, time, resources). The question of how much work a home needs is especially worrisome for first-time home buyers, who are typically shelling out a lot of cash between their earnest money, closing costs, down payment, moving costs, and paying for the home inspection(s).
A seller is usually stressed about the inspection, as well. They, too, worry that issues will come up they were not aware of, and they won’t have the cash on hand to take care of the repairs requested by the buyers. There is the concern that the buyer will insist the sellers make repairs the sellers don’t see as necessary, making the sale fail and starting the selling process all over again. The assumption usually made by a buyer or buyer’s agent is that the seller is making money from the sale of the home, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes a seller is barely breaking even or using the profits to pay off other debts or purchase a new home. Seeing their profit slowly decrease can be stressful and sometimes make selling not feasible.
No matter which side of the equation you are on, there are different strategies you can take when diving into an inspection negotiation.
As a seller, you could go as far as getting a pre-inspection done on your home, so that you are aware of everything before you go onto the market. This turns some sellers off because if they discover material defects, they then must disclose them to potential buyers right when they list the home or they are faced with repairs right away.
Sellers ask me often if they should take care of minor or major repairs before they list their home or if they should just wait for them to come up after the buyer inspects. Both are viable options, and there isn’t a clear cut answer. Here are some pros and cons I think sellers should consider to help decide which strategy speaks more to their mindset and which feels more comfortable to them.
Sellers taking care of repairs before you list.
- Depending on the scale of necessary repairs, if done prior to going on market, we could use them in the marketing (video, blog post, MLS listing remarks). Some examples of repairs that could be marketed to attract buyers are installing a new roof, servicing or replacing a furnace, installing new flooring, or painting the interior or exterior. The sewer lines in Tacoma are generally super old, so providing proof that the line is functioning well can eliminate a huge concern for buyers right away! Doing these repairs and providing these assurances before we list makes the house look more attractive to buyers who want a house that is dialed in!
- Doing work like replacing a roof or touching up chipped exterior paint could make the home more appealing to a wider range of buyers, which could get you more offers and put us in a better position to receive offers in the upper market range. That in turn will strengthen our inspection negotiation power since we will have less time on market. The winning buyer can be reminded that there is a ton of interest and not to be too picky on repair requests.
- If you get work done on the home prior to listing, I suggest attaching the paid invoices to the MLS listing so that agents can pass those onto the buyers. It shows that you were committed to prepping the house before putting it up for sale – making buyers more confident in offering top dollar for the house. It also sets the tone that you have already done work and likely won’t want to negotiate petty items.
- It gives sellers peace of mind knowing that you made the house as dialed-in and appealing as you could from the start. If things don’t go as you’d hoped, you won’t have that agonizing thought, “What if the roof was turning buyers off… What if I had just replaced that gross carpet in the living room…”
- Completing some work prior to listing your home could make it available to more buyers with varying loan types. If your home needs exterior paint, or has a failing roof, it could fail appraisal for certain loan types. An experienced buyers agent will point out potential issues while showing your home to buyers with stricter financing. There are a handful of things you can do ahead of time to avoid appraisal concerns.
- If you get a pre-inspection done on your home to see what is needed, it can be burdensome. If you discover material defects, you must disclose them on a seller disclosure form when we first go on market. However, unless folks are waiving their inspection, for a person who likes to plan and anticipate as much as possible, it can provide relief to know there likely won’t be any surprises when a buyer performs their own inspection(s).
- You might repair items that a buyer who chooses your home may have never tried asking for.
- Market value isn’t a mathematical equation – we can’t say with 100% certainty that a new roof will get you X amount more on offers. However, I can say with confidence that the more move-in ready a home is, the more buyers you will appeal to.
- Depending on your situation, you don’t want to spend all of the money you have on hand before we list. There are many ways you can use your current cash to make your home appealing (paint, flooring, staging, hiring a company to deep clean), and we need to look at your house and what will be the most useful within your resources. Every buyer is different, so you don’t want to spend money on something that one buyer might not care about, deplete your resources, then have a buyer press hard about a totally different issue that we didn’t address.
Not everyone can afford to prep their home 100% before listing. These ideas are for folks who are in a wonderful position to sell and ask me what is the way to get top dollar for their home. There is a list of items I provide sellers prior to listing, which ranges from the must-do’s to the more expensive, optional tasks. At minimum, you want to clean, de-clutter, and make sure the door locks work properly, light-bulbs are not burnt out, and there are no beeping smoke detectors. For more information on keeping your house from turning buyers off, check out my post – Sellers, Let’s Not Creep Buyers or Their Agents Out!