By Natalie Jones
Your house is one of the most important investments you will make. Unfortunately, no house is perfect, and when you’re in the process of making the purchase, a repair issue may crop up. How do you determine what should be done, and whose responsibility it is to take care of it?
Red Flags for House Hunters
Searching for your next abode is a big deal. You want a place that’s safe, comfortable, and enjoyable, and most homeowners don’t want to deal with problems immediately after moving in. With a little scrutiny, you can often rule out homes early in the process.
For example, when you’re at a showing, take a hard look for evidence of roof issues. Do you see missing or damaged shingles? Is the paint in good shape, or is it peeling and blistering? Are there stains on the interior ceilings? A roof repair might or might not be a deal-breaker, but unless the home is being sold “as-is,” it’s certainly a bargaining chip.
Along those same lines, there are some other red flags worth noting. Standing water can cause issues, so look for evidence of rotten wood in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry floors. If the appliances come with the home, examine them for signs of neglect, and be alert to drainage concerns around the foundation, such as ponding water, severe settling, or mold. Also, weed out homes with issues that are more than you want to face.
Call in a Professional
Once you find a home you want to purchase, one of the wisest choices you can make is to invest in a professional home inspection. This is typically done when you have begun formal contract negotiations. Fortune Builders points out that you should check the qualifications of inspectors you’re considering hiring, and ask to see samples of reports they have produced. Request references, and check with family members and friends to see who they used, and whether or not they were satisfied with the work.
To Fix, or Not to Fix?
Once you select an inspector and the report is complete, you’ll need to sort through the details to figure out what, if anything, is a sticking point. There are certain repair requests home buyers shouldn’t bother to make of sellers, such as cosmetic issues, common wear and tear items, and renovations you intend to complete anyway. (After all, if you’re planning on doing the work, you want it done to please you. If you leave it to the seller, they have no obligation to suit your tastes, only basic standards.) The requests worth considering include things like termite or pest infestations, drainage concerns, major plumbing or electrical problems, lead paint, mold or radon issues, and structural concerns. Basically, stick with safety issues and problems which are especially expensive to resolve.
Paying for Repairs
There are a couple of things to bear in mind regarding your repair requests. Since the seller won’t be staying in the house, you could have reason to worry about the repairs being completed the way you would like. Besides, sellers are often in the midst of a lot of expenses, just like buyers, so they might not have the cash flow to do a nice job. In this case, you might want to ask for a seller’s concession. Basically, it gives you a break on the purchase price and allows the seller to get on with the sale, so everybody wins.
Another idea is to pay for repairs out of escrow. As Total Mortgage explains, your mortgage company would reassess the home based on the projected value once repairs are complete, then set the money aside in an escrow account for you to use toward repairs.
You want your next home to keep you happy, safe, and comfortable. When you’re purchasing a house, take a hard look during the showing, and follow up with a professional home inspection. Afterward, negotiate repairs to ensure you’re satisfied with the results. With a solid plan in place, you’ll have your investment well-protected.