What’s Reasonable and What’s Not?
What is a reasonable request for repair within the first few weeks of going under contract with a buyer? Your buyer will be doing many inspections, starting with a general inspection that typically cost about 500 and it’s a buyer expense. Once that’s been completed, that inspector will recommend further inspection by licensed contractors, such as a plumber, an electrician, a roofer, maybe even a foundation expert. Now every house that sells is under the California Association of REALTORS contract, but experience shows that buyers, once they’ve read through all of the inspection reports, are going to submit a California Association of REALTOR Request for Repair document to the seller.
Buyers Can get Nervous
The buyers will pour though all those inspection reports, and then they’ll probably get a little nervous because there’s always going to be things wrong with a home. That’s where their agent comes in to guide them. Sometimes I will get a lengthy request for repair, typically from an agent that has little control over their buyer client or just doesn’t have the experience.
Seller Wants to Push Back
When the seller receives this lengthy repair of things that the buyer is requesting, they typically want to push back and say, “Absolutely no.” That could make the entire transaction implode. I’ve received many buyer requests for repair that I thought were a little unreasonable, and that gives me an opportunity to use my negotiating skills to help my sellers.
I let the buyer’s agent know they should explain to their buyer that when something is working correctly, they shouldn’t ask for the seller to upgrade items that are still in perfectly good working condition.
It’s also unreasonable to ask the seller to change the pluming from galvanized pipe to copper, to change single pane windows to double pain, to replace a roof that is not leaking. The roof may be getting close to the end of its life. Roofs usually are good for 25 years. If it’s a 20year-old roof, it’s unreasonable to ask for that to be replaced. The buyer will know that they have at least five more years approximately before the’re going to have to replace it.
End of Life Replacements
In some cases, the inspector recommends replacement for something that is at the end of its typical usable life. For example, a hot water heater usually lasts 12 to 15 years, that’s its typical life span, so the inspector would write that the hot water heater is at the end of its usable lifespan. Then the buyer is going to think, “I want a brand-new hot water heater.” However, it’s not unreasonable for the buyer to believe that if the hot water heater is in perfectly good condition it may have another five or 10 years left.
Make it Win-Win
So, when a buyer submits a lengthy request for repair, it could end up with a very unhappy seller and the whole transaction could implode. But I stay in communication with you and the buyer’s agent. I work with you to look carefully at that laundry list and determine a few things that you’re willing to take care of. We go back to negotiating. The buyers typically will accept our negotiations. So, when you get that list of repair requests, you can outright say, “No!” or you can work with me to look at a few things and get that win-win situation. Because any reports that you receive from your current buyer will be given to your next buyer and you could end up in the same place again. So, it’s always, in my opinion, better to work with the buyer you have and negotiate as strongly as we can to get a win-win situation.