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4 Things You Can Do If a Home Inspection Comes Back with Big-Ticket Fixes

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If you think of homebuying like riding a rollercoaster, the home inspection can often be one of those unexpected loops you didn’t see coming. 

Before you reach the closing table, a home inspection gives you, the buyer, a good snapshot of the home’s condition. During this process, a professional will examine the physical structure and systems of the house, from its foundation to its roof. Ideally, the inspection reveals the maintenance projects and repairs that need attention, whether they’re overdue or coming up in the near future. 

“A home inspection is not guaranteed to catch every issue within a home — you can’t open walls or see under floors — but it is a good indicator of the home’s condition,” says Alison Malkin, owner of RE/MAX Essentia in Avon, Connecticut. It gives the buyer an opportunity to decide if they want to proceed, and, if so, under what conditions, Malkin says. 

But let’s say your offer is accepted, you’re imagining where your plants will get the best lighting, and, boom, the home inspection comes back with a monster repair, like a leaky roof or a deck with corroding fasteners. What’s a buyer to do? Here are all of your options if you’re under contract and the inspection reveals some big problems. 

You can ask the seller to get the item(s) repaired prior to closing by a licensed professional, says Boston real estate agent Sam Reifman-Packett. You may have more luck with this strategy in a buyer’s market as opposed to the extreme seller’s market we’re in right now. (In fact, some buyers are opting to waive property inspections altogether in an effort to make their bid shine — a risky move real estate agents aren’t keen on). Another downside with this approach is contractors are in high demand, as nearly nine out of 10 construction firms say they’re having trouble hiring workers, according to a survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. That could mean a long waiting list for getting a new roof or remedying water damage. 

Ask for a price reduction in the amount of the repair.

Going with this strategy could get you to the closing table quicker, since you’re not waiting for fixes to be made to the home’s foundation. But this is Reifman-Packett’s least favorite option. If you do a price reduction, once you split it over a 30-year mortgage, you’ll barely notice the difference, he says.

Similarly, you could go through the home appraisal, which will consider the major issue uncovered in the inspection and you can then settle on a lower price with the seller, says Matt Woods, co-founder and CEO of Sold.com.

Request a closing credit in the amount of the repair.

You can put closing credits toward your closing costs, helping alleviate fees associated with lenders, attorneys, and title insurance. For example, if your closing costs are $10,000 and you request a $5,000 closing credit, you’ve now reduced your closing costs by $5,000 and have money to put aside for the repair, giving you more control and freedom over a potentially stressful home project. 

“If you can stomach taking on a project after you close, this will give you the chance to vet different contractors to make the repairs,” Reifman-Packett says. 

Get your earnest money back.

Depending on how your inspection contingency is written, if the discovery is so massive that it’s beyond repair, or the repair is simply too large to make it worth what you’re paying for the property, you can back out of the sale and get your deposit back, Reifman-Packett says.



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