what repair requests should buyers make of sellers?
It’s generally okay to ask sellers for some help but smart buyers avoid these seven repair requests to keep their purchase on track
When I was a kid, I knew there were certain ways of getting what I wanted from my parents. If I asked for too many things for Christmas I risked overwhelming my parents, who would throw in the towel and go pick stuff I didn’t want. Or, when I really wanted hot dogs for dinner instead of something my mom was making (To say my German mom struggled with American cuisine is an understatement), I’d suggest something that complemented hot dogs but not whatever German interpretation of American food Mom had on the stove.
I was a manipulator? No, I was a negotiator.
Buyers can be in a similar negotiation posture with sellers in a competitive real estate market. Diving into the numbers can be as entertaining as sitting through an entire planning board meeting (something I used to do as a reporter), so I’ll skip most of them and offer this: 6%–the increase in the average selling price year-to-date in Ann Arbor compared to the same period last year, which was up from the year before.
Prices have been rising on a smaller pool of available condos and single family homes which means more people are trying to buy fewer homes.
Prices have been rising on a smaller pool of available condos and single family homes which means more people are trying to buy fewer homes. This might mean paying above asking price to win a property. In competitive environments like Ann Arbor and other markets throughout the country, you have to be astute as a buyer to things that might waylay a purchase. Take inspections for example.
Lately, I have noticed rising expectations for the condition of the homes or condos for which buyers are in negotiations with sellers. Their argument seems to be that if they are paying above asking price, the home better be pristine. It’s understandable that buyers feel squeezed to make a home purchase happen. So they might expect more of sellers to make certain repairs. But a recent article in Inman News, a real estate industry online publication, says there are seven repairs buyers should never request of sellers.
If the repair is not related to safety or a breakdown of an expensive system, look past it.
According to Inman, “Educating buyers so they better understand which repairs are necessary and which may annoy the seller enough for the deal to shatter is part of the job of a real estate agent.” They suggest if the repair is not related to safety or a breakdown of an expensive system, look past it.
Here’s Inman’s list of repairs to skip:
- Easily repaired items under $10 — Home inspectors often include everything under the roof in their lists of items to repair or replace, from minor missing screws to furnaces on their last breath. They have to be thorough. Inman says save yourself the hassle and omit these things from the list.
- Replacement of smoke or carbon monoxide detectors — better for future homeowners to make an informed decision and buy alarms or detectors with which they are most comfortable rather than the $5 job the seller will buy at that big box hardware store.
- Cosmetic items — Just skip. Normal wear and tear is to be expected.
- Repairs for minor plumbing or electrical issues — See #3. Unless it presents a major safety issue, overlook it.
- Repair of hairline cracks in a basement or driveway — There are cracks and there are San Andreas faults (see photo at right). Concrete expands and contracts. Over a quarter of an inch and it’s “a whole new ballgame” according to Inman.
- Outdoor landscaping, porch and fence repairs — These items are visible at the initial showing. If they are significant they should be mentioned in the initial offer not in a repair list, according to Inman.
- Replacement of failed seals in windows — I know this one will probably get me in trouble because this is a common issue. But Inman says, “most sellers will refuse to fix failed seals…depending on the age of the window seal, failure can be expected.”
There are several approaches to getting the costs of some of these repairs covered by the seller, including a buyer credit at closing. The general rule in approaching the inspection is to be focused on repairs over $500. Anything less and you risk appearing nit-picky and scuttling your home purchase.