Does The Seller Need to Fix This?

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Ask the sellers to make repairs. This isn’t a great option.  If a seller has performed work at their home and they did it wrong the first time, why would they get it right the second time? When a buyer asks a seller to repair stuff, they’re basically making the seller the general contractor for their new home. The seller has no motivation to do high quality work, and I know from experience that the work will be almost always be performed incorrectly, or the work will be sub-par and the materials will be the cheapest possible.  Probably both.

It’s a very frustrating situation for buyers when I go out to verify repairs the day before closing and none of the repairs are right.  What happens now?   If the seller is going to be responsible for repairs, language should be included in the purchase agreement that requires licensed contractors to do the work, permits pulled and inspected by the authority having jurisdiction (the city), and proof of both given to the buyer well in advance of the closing date. Just about anything related to plumbing, electrical, or HVAC requires a permit, and most work performed by carpenters also requires a permit.  This should be done for projects of any size; if a project is too small to require a permit, why bother asking the seller to do it at all?

Do nothing. This is often the best option for buyers. When buying a used home, buyers shouldn’t expect everything to be perfect; it never is. Walls get damaged, showers leak, appliances age.  This doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’t address defects after they’ve bought the house, but it’s unrealistic to expect sellers of used houses to fix every little defect. Asking sellers to address a long list of minor repairs will make the seller feel defensive about their home and make the buyers look petty.  This typically comes from a misunderstanding of what a home inspection is for; home inspections are supposed to help the buyer make an informed decision about their potential purchase, not give the seller a long list of petty repairs.

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Reuben Saltzman

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