Does The Seller Need to Fix This?

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“Does the seller need to fix this?”

That’s a common question that home inspectors are asked when we find defects at houses that we inspect, and the answer is always no.  While a municipal inspector may come up with a big list of required repairs for a seller if their city has required point of sale / Truth-In-Housing inspections, a home inspection is usually completely independent of any type of government regulations.  Here in Minnesota, the entire home inspection industry in completely unregulated.  Issues that come up during a home inspection may be negotiable, but there are no hard and fast rules about repairs that sellers need to complete as a result of a home inspection.  When a home inspector finds defects during a home inspection, there are four common ways for the buyer to deal with them: pay less for the house, cancel the purchase, have the seller perform repairs, or do nothing.  Today I’ll give my two cents on each.

Deteriorated RoofLower the price of the house.  With this option, the buyer can hire their own contractors to do the work, and they can oversee the whole project after they own the house.  This is a common approach, but it’s not always a practical approach because it doesn’t leave the new home buyers with any cash to pay for repairs unless they’re going some special financing, such as a 203k loan.

Cancel the purchase.  This happens when the buyer decides there are too many problems with the house, when buyers and sellers can’t come to an agreement, or when there is just no equity in the home to lower the price.  Usually when a deal falls apart as a result of the inspection, it’s because there are major defects with the home that the seller either wasn’t aware of or didn’t disclose.  Some of the biggest deal-killers are foundation problems, wet basement problems, roof problems, siding problems, and major plumbing or electrical problems.

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Reuben Saltzman

Reuben Saltzman works for Structure Tech, a Minneapolis home inspection company that has been in business since 1987.