The home inspection is a big step in the home purchase process, and home inspectors frequently uncover hundreds of repairs needed in a home.
Albeit most of our discovered repairs are minor, there are usually several home repairs that are costly and significant.
You may also want to read my guide on 7 things that fail a home inspection where I go through some major repairs that can sink a sale.
If you plan on getting a home inspection, you may be wondering which repairs sellers have to fix.
In this guide, I will go over…
- Mandatory fixes by the seller
- How home inspection contingencies work
- The most common types of repairs requested by buyers
- Cosmetic, minor, and significant repairs
- When you should walk away from the purchase
- And things sellers can do for buyers instead of repairs
Table of contents
- What Things Are Mandatory To Fix After A Home Inspection?
- When Should You Walk Away From A House After The Inspection?
- Sample Home Inspection Contingency
- What Repairs Should You Ask For After The Home Inspection?
- Repair Summary From Home Inspection
- What Can Sellers Do Who Refuse Repairs?
- Final Thoughts
What Things Are Mandatory To Fix After A Home Inspection?
Even when sellers agree to home inspection contingencies, it is never mandatory for them to perform any or all repairs.
The only legal mechanism to make fixing any of it compulsory is through the government building department — not a home inspection. Needless to say, if you tattle on the seller to your local building department, you probably shouldn’t expect the seller to proceed with the sale.
However, the lender of the buyer may have certain standards for the house that must be met for the financing to go through — so unless the seller is willing to do it — the purchase may fall apart.
For example, for FHA financing to go through, there are certain standards that the home is in good enough condition to keep its occupants safe.
The Most Important Items Please
As a home inspector, I always advise my clients to just request the most important items on the home inspection report to be fixed — especially those of structural or health concerns.
If there is a large foundation crack, the roof has missing shingles, or you found mold in the basement — these are important items to repair that aren’t easily fixable by a buyer.
It is entirely permissible to ask for cosmetic issues to be fixed like paint blemishes or missing bathroom caulking (but it is usually frowned upon by sellers and agents) and it isn’t something commonly accepted.
You may also want to include a long list of minor issues to be repaired, but it isn’t a wise move. Buyers are better off listing the most important items for the seller to repair — you don’t want to piss off the seller with a laundry list of cosmetic things.
Read Also: 10 Home Inspection Tips For Sellers
When Should You Walk Away From A House After The Inspection?
If the seller refuses to do all or some of your requested repairs, you have the option of proceeding with the purchase or backing out.
If you had a home inspection contingency, you will be able to walk away and get your deposit back.
You also may have an “as is” contingency which usually gives you the right to cancel and get your deposit back as well. To learn more about how this contingency or ‘clause’ is used, check out my guide on the biggest reason for home inspection contingencies.
But before you walk away from the sale, you should consider asking the seller for a credit for the repairs — either from the purchase price or for a cash credit at closing. The seller may have no interest in hiring and managing contractors but they may be willing to give some type of monetary credit.
This is also another reason not to make a laundry list of minor or cosmetic things to a seller because it just muddies the water.
Sample Home Inspection Contingency
Here is a screenshot of a Maryland home inspection contingency that was in a Realtor contract of a home I purchased a few years ago. You can see that the seller and buyer will have to each send notices in writing every 3 days to negotiate the repairs.
I recommend that you consult with your real estate agent or local attorney for the specifics of your state and how the negotiation process works.
Basically, if the seller and buyer don’t agree to the repairs, then the buyer has the right to cancel the sale without penalty (and get the deposit back) or to proceed with it.
What Repairs Should You Ask For After The Home Inspection?
There are so many things that can go wrong with a house, and it is important to request the things that are significant and not cosmetic. Things that affect the safe occupancy of the home or the structural integrity.
If you can fix something yourself in a few minutes, such as fixing a paint blemish or adding a touch of caulking to a bathroom — you should probably avoid asking the seller. But if you know there is something that makes the home unsafe or something that can significantly affect the value of the home, you should definitely ask the seller to fix it.
You can also add a mental monetary amount to the fixes that you request. If you think something will cost more than $100 to $300 to fix yourself (or to hire a contractor) then you may want to ask the seller.
You need to factor in the cost of the biggest repairs too. If you find out the HVAC system is broken, then you may be asking seller for a $15,000 HVAC replacement. In a case like this, you should probably even leave out some of the less expensive item repairs.
Here is a list of some of the most common types of repairs that buyers request sellers to fix…
- Roof repairs
- Water leaks
- Structural problems
- Rotted wood
- HVAC not working
- Mold growth
- Missing roof shingles
- Loose toilets
- Defective electrical panel
Read Also: How Do Home Inspections For Mold Work?
Repair Summary From Home Inspection
Below is a screenshot that I took from an actual home inspection.
If you read it, you can see that some of the things are extremely minor, and I only include it in the report to be thorough and to make my client happy. Things like “missing stopper” “loose mailbox post” are so minor that I don’t recommend including it in a repair request to the seller.
In this home inspection summary, the biggest issue is item #32 which states that the home has defective polybutylene water piping. This piping has been banned because it leaks and it is a big problem — it may need to be completely replaced which can cost $20,000 or more.
Read Also: How To Do Home Inspections For Asbestos?
What Can Sellers Do Who Refuse Repairs?
Sellers have a few options if they don’t want to do repairs. The most common thing to do is lower the purchase price.
Another option is to give a cash credit that goes towards the costs of the home purchase. You may also valuable home items that you are willing to throw into the deal such as furniture, pool table, or an outdoor grill.
Sellers may be able to sway buyers by offering to pay for the first 12-24 months of a home warranty — especially if the buyer is worried about possible repairs.
Buyers should be aware that not all repairs are covered by warranties, and that they should carefully read what it covers before agreeing to it.
If you are a home seller, you may also be interested in reading my guide on whether sellers should be at the home inspection.
To summarize, sellers simply aren’t required to fix anything. If you have a home inspection contingency, this will give you some leverage in asking for repairs or at least a credit off the purchase price.
But if you bought the home with an “as is” contingency, then you probably shouldn’t even bother asking the seller for repairs — either walk away or accept the current condition.
As I tell many of my home inspection clients, if you want to increase the likelihood of getting repairs done by the seller — ask for the most important and costly items.
In my home inspection reports, I literally have hundreds of things to repair (large and small). If you request all of these items, you will likely turn off the buyer. You are better off making a list of the top 10-20 things that you want the seller to repair.