What can you ask seller to fix from inspection

18 Replies

Hi Everyone,

I am finishing up the inspection period on a duplex in Minneapolis and there are a decent amount of health and safety issues including mold/moisture in the occupied unit. I got a quote to fix it and it's about $1000. There is a also a furnace from 1954 in one unit and 1986 in the other.

What can I ask the seller to fix if I'm in a sellers market?

Thanks,
Josh

In a sellers market there is probably not much wiggle room on requesting sellers to spend money. You simply ask based on your required numbers to make the deal work and walk away if they refuse. Your best option is always to reduce your offer price base on the issues found rather than have a seller fix anything. The reality is that 9 times in 10 the seller is fully aware of the defences and has priced accordingly.

It is usually not a good idea to have sellers do any work as they will go cheep and cut corners.

Josh Cook great question! I’m in a sellers market too and it’s tough. A few points that might help you. People run from mold so he will want to stay with you if possible. If they had not disclosed it before they will have to do so now, so you tell him to have it done or you walk. Second thing is that you can submit in your reply who exactly who you want todo the work. That way to @Thomas S. point you can mitigate the sellers going cheap or doing it themselves to pass buy it. We have a ton of radon here in PA so I submit in my reply if radon comes back high “Seller at sellers expense to install radon remediation system by ABC Radon Specialists and furnish receipts of completed work and satisfactory retesting of the radon level...” this way I know it’s my guy doing it and will be done right. Sometimes I’ll submit a quote with my reply so that they can see he is priced reasonably but I still know it’s getting done right. You can do the same thing for the mold.

Justin Brown, Real Estate Agent in PA (#RS329365)
(814) 933-8623

Ask for everything and then some. They will reject some of it, but they will likely accept some. I would then go back and ask for them to do some that they rejected. 

I just got a house under contract that was in multiple offers, did the inspection and found porch issues, asbestos and a few minor things. I asked them to fix everything or discount the purchase by $12,000. They countered and said they'd take off $3000. I countered back and said $8000 or I walk away. They took it and we are closing soon. 

My thought is what is worst case? You say reduce the price by $8000 or I walk and they say no. Then you decide if you walk or bit the bullet and go with the $3000 off

@Josh Cook You can always ask for anything. What might be better is to ask for a concession, then you do the work yourself after closing. 

Personally, I think asking for any health/safety issues to be fixed is easy and most people are understandable of that. 

The old furnaces can be a little tougher. If I was the seller I would say no, and that you should have know that they were old when you did the walk thru. Also if they currently work I would strongly say no. side note: if you close on it, you should have strong reserves and be setting aside a nice chunk each month for capex because the furnaces will eventually go out

You average owner doesn't want to back out of a contract, a contract means you are almost to closing. Versus if you make a small ask and they say no, they have to restart the whole process over again. It is a bit of an unknown and can be a little scary.  

Everything is negotiable, the most important question to ask is what’s the market?
Knowing the market is the first step which you answered.
Remember if seller had multiple bids they will be less likely to go all out on your inspection repairs.
I would still try if I was in your shoes, send them inspection report with issue you would like repaired or replaced worst they can say is no or maybe give back partial amount of repair.

I have had many buyers believe that they can put in a near full price offer expecting to get it reduced after the inspection.

Many will come back with a revised offer 20K lower after inspection with a list of items to justify the reduction. What I do is counter by raising my asking 20K with the condition that I will do all the necessary corrections.....idiots.

Being on the sale side more these days, the @Todd Dexheimer ask for everything under the sun trick pisses me off and I have no qualms about telling you as much.  Same goes for @Jordan Moorhead.  You would be off my list as a buyer for this property and any of my 3 dozen others I will be selling over the next few years.  Know your seller when you pull this bs.  I offer good places at fair prices and even get creative, but no soup for you.

If it was obvious when you saw it (old hvac that functions) then you can't complain about it.  I didn't switch it out when you weren't looking.  Open and obvious stuff that has been accounted for in the asking price does not get to be revisited. 

Health and safety issues are different.  As a seller I would be glad it was only a grand and offer the discount, but ask you to do it.  I'm selling because I'm busy after all.  Know your seller and WHY they are selling!

@Todd Dexheimer your last comment may not be accurate. If you  say "reduce the price by $8000 or I walk and they say no. Then you decide if you walk or bit the bullet and go with the $3000 off" everything I have heard is this is incorrect. If they offer $3000 and you negotiate back at $8000, the $3000 is OFF the table and you can't simply go back and say, ok I accept. Once you have said $8000 or I walk, the seller has the right to let you walk. In a sellers market, he very well may tell you to walk and sell to someone else. Sure you can try it, but in my mind, if you say $8000 or walk, you better be 100% ready to walk, and not just try and back track into their last counter offer. If I was the seller in a sellers market, you would be walking...

Originally posted by @Brian Pulaski :

@Todd Dexheimer your last comment may not be accurate. If you  say "reduce the price by $8000 or I walk and they say no. Then you decide if you walk or bit the bullet and go with the $3000 off" everything I have heard is this is incorrect. If they offer $3000 and you negotiate back at $8000, the $3000 is OFF the table and you can't simply go back and say, ok I accept. Once you have said $8000 or I walk, the seller has the right to let you walk. In a sellers market, he very well may tell you to walk and sell to someone else. Sure you can try it, but in my mind, if you say $8000 or walk, you better be 100% ready to walk, and not just try and back track into their last counter offer. If I was the seller in a sellers market, you would be walking...

 Yes, be ready to walk away, but more than likely they will allow you to buy the deal. Don't negotiate if you want to pay their price!

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :

Being on the sale side more these days, the @Todd Dexheimer ask for everything under the sun trick pisses me off and I have no qualms about telling you as much.  Same goes for @Jordan Moorhead.  You would be off my list as a buyer for this property and any of my 3 dozen others I will be selling over the next few years.  Know your seller when you pull this bs.  I offer good places at fair prices and even get creative, but no soup for you.

If it was obvious when you saw it (old hvac that functions) then you can't complain about it.  I didn't switch it out when you weren't looking.  Open and obvious stuff that has been accounted for in the asking price does not get to be revisited. 

Health and safety issues are different.  As a seller I would be glad it was only a grand and offer the discount, but ask you to do it.  I'm selling because I'm busy after all.  Know your seller and WHY they are selling!

Funny how you say I would piss you off and you'd never work with me, but then you say that you would take $1000. You can't have both 

Originally posted by @Todd Dexheimer :

Funny how you say I would piss you off and you'd never work with me, but then you say that you would take $1000. You can't have both 

 Excellent job completely missing my point.

The $1000 wouldn't matter for you since I wouldn't bother countering your $8000 request and we would be rescinding.

I also wouldn't bother responding to any of your other offers, ever.  I know you would do the same thing again post inspection.  You would be a complete waste of time.

Know your seller.  If it's not a one-off homeowner selling their one little house once in their lifetime, tread lighter on the heavy-handed negotiation tactics.  'Ask for everything' is rookie advice yelled from the back of a short bus.

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :

Know your seller.  If it's not a one-off homeowner selling their one little house once in their lifetime, tread lighter on the heavy-handed negotiation tactics.  'Ask for everything' is rookie advice yelled from the back of a short bus.

I nominate this for quote of the week.

Russell Brazil, Real Estate Agent in Maryland (#648402), Virginia (#0225219736), District of Columbia (#SP98375353), and Massachusetts (#9​0​5​2​3​4​6)
(301) 893-4635
Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :
Originally posted by @Todd Dexheimer:

Funny how you say I would piss you off and you'd never work with me, but then you say that you would take $1000. You can't have both 

 Excellent job completely missing my point.

The $1000 wouldn't matter for you since I wouldn't bother countering your $8000 request and we would be rescinding.

I also wouldn't bother responding to any of your other offers, ever.  I know you would do the same thing again post inspection.  You would be a complete waste of time.

Know your seller.  If it's not a one-off homeowner selling their one little house once in their lifetime, tread lighter on the heavy-handed negotiation tactics.  'Ask for everything' is rookie advice yelled from the back of a short bus.

 The scenario I presented with $8000 off was completely different from the original post and the seller did take the $8000 off, so I would say I "knew the seller." 

Also, I don't recall the person posting saying that this seller had a bunch of houses. Appearantly you know the seller from Minneapolis, but from the post I could not determine who it was. 

Rarely do I renegotiate contracts, but when big things come up I don't just bite the bullet and make poor purchases. 

Negotiating is not for the faint of heart and I would not suggest rookies to do it too aggressively from the beginning, so it is wise that you are not doing it until you are more comfortable.

Also, every sellers motivation is different. Rarely will sellers or sellers agents be as trigger happy to put their properties back on the market as you. If you work with tack and have a reason to renegotiate that is justified then do it. When we worry about it being a sellers market and not getting the deal we make bad choices and end up loosing in the end. 

@Todd Dexheimer I think the issue with your post was some of the quotes... "ask for everything AND THEN SOME". This would almost 100% of the time put the buyer in a bad light with the seller, especially when we are told it is a sellers market. If I had a seller come to me asking for every single thing on a report and then MORE... see you later and move to the next person in line.

You then told him to counter offer and if they don't accept, go back to the previous offer from the seller. From all of the knowledge I have, you can't just simply do that, unless the seller lets you. If you counter offer, their $3000 is off the table and you have reopened negotiations. At this point you have asked for everything in the report AND MORE and now want to back track to their previous counter when you try to play hardball again... this again sounds like bad advice.

In your deal it sounds like it worked for you, and maybe in your market , or with your sellers it does. Keep in mind you are offering advice to others and this type of negotiations do not always work.

@Brian Pulaski I appreciate your response and agree that I should have been more clear. In that scenario I would have asked for the $1000 off and a credit on the furnaces. If more thinks came up on the inspection I would add a few small items. This allows the seller then to say no to some items and yes to others, which is most people's reaction. 

I am in his exact same market and here it is expected to come back with a counter after the inspection. I would guess in the nearly 300 transactions I have been a part of 95-98% have had a change after inspection. 

I have also been on both ends of take it or we walk and then ended up working out a deal. It may not always work, but if you're prepared to walk, then it is worth it

@Josh Cook Others have already listed some great points. Here are some tactics I use both for my own investing and for my clients:

  1. Know the seller (and their agent) - I negotiate differently with seasoned investors/flippers vs someone selling their primary residence. Also try to build a rapport with the listing agent, as much of your negotiating will be done with them!
  2. Focus on the priority repair items - don't ask for too many items (especially cosmetic stuff), as it often overwhelms the seller and causes your priority items to be overlooked or ignored. 
  3. Don't make "old" systems part of your repair list - your mention of the furnace from 1954 reminded me of this. Old components of the house (roof, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc) should in my opinion be negotiated as part of the offer price rather than during the inspection period. If something is old, you'll generally know about it ahead of the purchase. I'd expect a lot of pushback if you ask the seller to repair/replace something that is presently working (like a furnace)
  4. Your goal should be to get credits - I agree with others that credits towards repairs are almost always preferable. I'd rather have the cash to make the repair as I see fit and up to my standards. 
  5. Don't get discouraged - the seller has a totally different point of view from the buyer, and sometimes no amount of facts or logic can make them change their mind. Case in point, I just had a seller flat out refuse to make any repairs or offer any credit for the buyer requested items. It didn't kill the deal, but it was definitely frustrating. 
Ryan Swan, Real Estate Agent in AZ (#SA661174000)
480-332-7296

Okay thanks everyone! 

Just to update everyone. I requested the seller drop the price of the house by 5k and fix the mold which is actually $800 and can be completed in one day. They countered by dropping the price of the house by $2500 and did not fix the mold. I decided to accept since I am getting the house at ~$12k under their asking price. 

If I could've got credits that would've helped a lot since that's just more cash I need to front right now which I would rather be putting towards the furnace or other safety issues. 

I see the point about the old components as an item to negotiate as part of the offer price instead of after the inspection especially since it still works (surprisingly since it's a gravity furnace from 1952), however I will have to replace it and it may or may not have asbestos and will be costly since the ductwork will need to be replaced as well.

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