Nothing causes more hassle in the purchasing process than negotiating repairs after a Buyer’s home inspection. The scene is recurring: Buyers see their dream home at an open house, they spend twenty minutes walking around among their fierce competition, and then make a strong offer as quickly as they can. After a few rounds, their offer is accepted; then reality sets in. Their home inspector finds a myriad of latent defects which leave the Buyers reeling. What is a Buyer to do? This week, we’re going to tackle the psychology and logistics of negotiating repairs when buying a home.

Position your Request Strategically:  Remember that this is a negotiation, not a Seller obligation. It may be the case that the Buyer “wants” certain repairs completed, but the Seller needs to understand why. First, be sure to explain that the defects were latent or not easily noticed as they were certainly factored into the Seller’s pricing strategy. The apparent defects, peeling paint, outdated kitchen, and cracked tiles should have been factored into your initial offer. It is much more compelling to explain to the Seller why you could not have seen the defect that is causing you to revise your offer. Second, as soon as possible, send a proposal that is concise, professional, and understandable. Rambling emails, with misspellings and exaggeration, do nothing but anger the Seller. Third, be realistic. Some Sellers are incapable, for physical, logistical, or financial reasons, of making repairs. There is a difference between asking for more than you expect and overreaching. Fourth, the repair items may have been disclosed and factored into the price. Avoid the impression that you’re “double dipping.” Fifth, no house is perfect. Demanding the Seller deliver a perfect house is unrealistic. Finally, negotiations will often boil down to a simple question of whether you want to fight for sport or get the deal done.

Include the Repairs in the Purchase and Sale Agreement:  You may be advised to keep the repairs from the bank since “it might complicate things.” Our advice is to be fully transparent with your lender. While it may be aggravating to pay for a re-inspection by the appraiser, it is far better than allegations of mortgage fraud or violating consumer protection laws. Keep everything above board and disclosed.

Don’t Ask for Repairs:  You read that correctly. Sellers have a lot to do and most do not have the time and some do not have the money to make extensive repairs prior to closing. By getting, thorough, written, reasonable quotes from licensed service providers and proposing the Seller cover some or all of that expense by reducing the price or providing a credit, it gives the Seller the most flexibility with little effort. A credit, with the lender’s approval, is an appealing option as it will generally leave the Buyer with additional funds to complete the repair after closing or to compensate the Buyer for the effect that a repair item has on property value. One quick pointer: Sellers will often foresee your concern with a particular issue and gather quotes in anticipation of negotiation. As a Buyer, you may want to ask the service provider to state, in writing, that they will honor the quote for some period of time. It is unpleasant for Buyers when the cost of a repair balloons after a service provider refuses to honor their previous quote.

By following these tips, you maximize your chances of having the Seller agree to your proposed repairs or concession. Many deals fall apart during this stage of negotiation. By approaching with strategy, diligence, and integrity, a Buyer will be best positioned to have their proposal accepted.

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Stiles Law, with offices located in Boston and Marshfield, Massachusetts, is a firm concentrating in real estate conveyancing and mortgage lending services, representing buyers, sellers, borrowers, banks, mortgage companies, investors, builders and developers in all of their real estate and mortgage transactions. Stiles Law serves all areas of eastern Massachusetts–the North Shore, Boston, and Cape Cod, in addition to the entire South Shore, including: Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury, Hanover, Pembroke, Marshfield, Scituate, Norwell, Cohasset, Hull, Hingham, Weymouth, Braintree, and Quincy.

Copyright © 2016 Stiles Law, All rights reserved. Stiles Law is a Massachusetts licensed law firm and all content is based on Massachusetts law. The information presented above is meant to be used for general informational purposes and it should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts. No child labor laws were breached during the creation of this Blog, further Bob Bonkley was compensated for his likenesses and appearances in the same.