Buying a House: What Repairs Sellers Are Responsible For

Whether you’re buying your first home or you’ve been away from the housing market for a few years, it’s good to be prepared ahead of time. After all, it can be difficult to know what a seller means when the house sports an “as-is” label. With that in mind, here is what you need to consider when buying a home in today’s market.

Start with an Inspection

While it’s the buyer’s responsibility to pay for a home inspection, it’s worth the fee, which usually falls between $300 to $500, varying by area. They’ll examine the property thoroughly, and provide an accurate take on what repairs are needed, giving you peace of mind before buying. Unfortunately, they may also unearth information the seller refuses to fix, but that info can guide your decision on whether to proceed with the purchase. Ultimately, the goal is to get the knowledge you need to make repairs, haggle, or a careful blend of the two.

Seller’s Responsibility

What the seller is responsible for largely comes down to negotiation, whether you want to buy the property, and what the seller is willing to do to get it sold. After all, buyers can walk away at any time while sellers might compromise if the property has been on the market for a long time. In fact, depending on the state, the seller may even be liable for health-related repairs and maintenance, such as severe water damage or missing smoke detectors. However, anything else is left up for negotiation between you and the current owner.

Negotiate on Price

One option you have is to negotiate your price based on what a home inspection discovers. Before you jump in, take some considerations into account. For instance, you’ll probably have more wiggle room if the house has been on the market for longer than 90 days. Of course, negotiating may be outside your comfort zone, but it’s important. As a rule, don’t give a price range for repairs, particularly if you don’t know how much they’ll cost. Otherwise, it might be an invitation for the seller to fixate on the low-end of your price range and justify any reason to discount more. Instead, get quotes for repairs, and then use that as a basis for compromise.

Arrange for Repairs

Of course, you could request the seller to make these repairs before you move in. If there are major issues, then this may be a good option to pursue, rather than getting a credit to deal with them after the house is yours. For example, window replacements can take up to a month to complete, and roofs can take nearly as long to be fixed. Given that, you could find yourself owning a home that you can’t live in while repairs are underway. So, if the seller is willing to get these done before you move in, all the better for you.

Buying As-Is

Lastly, there is always the option to buy a property “as-is.” However, you must be fully aware of just what that means for you as a buyer before committing yourself. No matter what problems you encounter, the seller will be under no obligation to get them fixed, even things like structural issues, a leaking roof, mold, or a pest infestation. Moreover, it also means that they will not give you any credit toward uncovered issues, regardless of what they may be. All in all, buying as-is can be a risk, one you have to think through thoroughly before deciding.

Home buying can be a stressful experience, especially when we’re unsure of what the seller is responsible for. However, by being ready to negotiate and knowing what it means when buying an as-is property, you can make your experience easier.

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