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How to Negotiate Repair Costs When Buying a Home

How to Negotiate Repair Costs When Buying a Home Expand options

After you put an offer on a home and it gets accepted, most buyers opt to pay for a professional inspection and—as a result, negotiate repair costs when buying. During these negotiations you can either ask for repairs prior to closing, ask for a discount or credit toward closing costs, or ask for alternative compensation.

But how you ask for these seller concessions and how much you ask for can depend greatly on your local market and the seller. It’s always best to work with a great real estate agent to plan your negotiations. But for now, here’s a rundown of how the process works.

A lease agreement with a pen on top of it.

SOURCE: PEXELS

Make a list

After your professional inspection, you’ll receive a comprehensive list of everything in need of repair or replacement—as well as the age of all major elements of the home, including the HVAC, roof, water heater, etc. The report you’ll receive likely includes lots of little things you won’t worry about. So now’s the time for you to make a list of all those items that matter to you.

Gauge the seller

Next, you’ll want to gauge how willing the seller is to make repairs before you make your big ask. Work closely with your agent to determine how willing the seller will be to negotiate, keeping in mind your local market. In a hot seller’s market where a seller doesn’t seem willing to budge, asking too much may turn them off—resulting in them agreeing to no repairs. But remember, the seller can’t back out simply because you’ve asked for repairs. They need to give you the opportunity to still purchase the home, despite their refusal to conduct repairs.

Prioritize and think long-term

While you may have plenty of repairs you’d love to have done, it’s usually not a good idea to ask for all of them. Instead, consider big-ticket items that you may need done right away but can’t afford to do without a personal loan or don’t want to have them done right after moving in. For example, if you’re moving in the middle of winter and the furnace is ancient and not running correctly, it’s reasonable to ask for a new one. 

How to negotiate

Once you’ve landed on your list, there are three main options for negotiating repairs with the seller:

Asking for pre-closing fixes

Most of the fixes we’ve mentioned thus far are pretty serious repairs like a leaking roof. In that case, you’re probably best served asking for those repairs to be completed prior to your closing date and paid for by the seller. Be aware that there is a chance a delay in these repairs due to scheduling or contractor issues may delay your closing date. In most times, it’s worth the hassle to have a move-in ready home and everything ironed out.

Asking for a discount

Two people sitting across from each other with one hand holding a pen and a paper

SOURCE: PEXELS

For repairs that you know will need to be done at some point but aren’t urgent, you may opt to ask for a discount on the price of the home or a credit toward closing costs to cover the expense.

Opt for alternative compensation

The last option is to ask for alternative compensation. You may be able to negotiate that large appliances such as a washer and dryer come with the home. The ones that the seller would have otherwise taken with them. Leaving behind an old appliance may be easier for the seller to swallow than coughing up cash.

Insist on a home warranty

Regardless of what repairs you ask for, it’s often a good idea to ask for a one-year home warranty. Some sellers even include these without being asked. A home warranty covers most appliances and systems—including plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. Although it doesn’t cover every scenario, home warranties can be lifesavers. They’re an especially good idea if you’re purchasing an old home or one with dated appliances.

Author: Ben Mizes

Ben is the Co-Founder and CEO at Clever Real Estate, the nation’s leading real estate education platform for home buyers, sellers, and investors.

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