Home Inspection Done! What's worth asking for credit from seller?
August 13, 2019 7:39 AM   Subscribe

We had our new house inspected this past Saturday. Want some advice and input on what is worth asking for a buyers credit or to have remediation done by the seller prior to close.

Had our new house inspected this past Saturday. We found a number of small things that I don't mind fixing but these are the big ones the inspector noted:

1. Areas of grade slope downward towards foundation. They were recommended to be re-graded so it slopes away at rate of 1 inch per foot.

2. Loose sections of trim wrap on roof recommended to be sealed to avoid moisture damage. Some water staining in attic but unsure if this was due to shingle damage that was replaced earlier this year due to a storm. Roof had shingle repair/replacement on front section sometime this year. Rear roof is original (20 years). Worth asking for credit for full roof inspector that we'll likely have to get?

3. Basement slop sink has leak from drain and sewer odor coming from ejector pump system (pumps water out to sewage). 2nd floor guest bathroom has sink drain leak as well.

4. Front gutter sagging and debris. Worth asking for credit for gutter pitch/fix?

5. One section of basement wall has "mold-like" staining on a section. Recommendation was to test for mold. It appeared like that areas was washed/scrubbed with bleach. Anything worth asking for here like a credit on mold testing?

6. 2 sump pumps are sealed but do not have clear covers so we could not validate they were working/pumping correctly. Any credit worth asking for in having those replaced with the clear cover?

7. Outlets near moisture sources not GFCI protected. Also both sump pumps on GFCI outlets, recommended having dedicated outlets.

8. Asking for permit info for the whole-house generator install, gas furnace, roof work to ensure used qualified contractors and permits obtained/filed with township approval

Out of these things what is worth asking for a credit? Is there anything we should ask to have remediated before close? Is there a rule of thumb for repairs, say anything under 1k pass on asking and handle yourself? We have a good friend who is an electrician so I'm not as concerned about those items as I know he'd handle them for a fair and good price. The grading, roof and mold seem to be my top concerns. The leaks and corrosion etc I can handle or have done easily.
posted by PetiePal to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you working with a real estate agent? What is that person's advice?
posted by John Borrowman at 7:44 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]

Asking for a credit depends on the what the current offer on the house is. If you are already getting a decent deal, I would only worry about the biggies like failing roof, flooding basement, mold/lead, unpermitted work, etc. IME, home inspections often include a bunch of minor stuff not even worth asking credit for. Personally, I would not ask the home owners to fix anything prior to close (wouldn't risk the delay or potentially subpar work). WRT the sump pump, ejector pump system, etc., I would ask for home warranty for 2 years that covers all the appliances and systems in the house. Your realtor should be able to help you with all of these things.
posted by jraz at 8:03 AM on August 13

So much of this depends on the market and your offer, etc. I agree that you should ask your agent.

I would ask for any permits for work they've had done to make sure it's up to code, etc.

When I bought my house I got very little credit after finding a number of things that needed fixing (deck, new siding) because the market was particularly favorable to sellers and I had offered asking price exactly, not a dime more or less where other properties were often going well over asking. My agent seemed to feel that was fine, as well as my other homeowning friends in the area.

I'd test for mold before you close, not after. If you have mold, what's that potentially going to cost to deal with? If you see a little mold, and that's been cleaned, how much is lurking that you don't see?

If your roof is original you're probably going to want that redone in not too long anyway.

Again - I think this is highly contingent on where you're buying and if the market is hot or not, and what your offer is, and how badly you want this particular house.

Ask yourself - are you willing to walk if they don't meet the credit you ask for? Obviously the amount in credit you ask for should probably surpass the amount you'd lose in earnest money if you walk away and don't close on the house. And if you want, say $10,000 in credit, then I'd ask for $15,000.
posted by jzb at 8:23 AM on August 13

It depends on the market, but I've asked for concessions even if they weren't deal-breakers to me, basically saying "We think X, Y, and Z should be fixed and will cost $A to fix; will you agree to a concession of 50% of $A?" If your form real estate contracts are structured like they are here, the seller can't walk away just because you've asked for a concession. Also, if your contracts our structured like ours, you wouldn't lose your earnest money if you walked away due to structural issues or physical problems with the house, after giving the seller a chance to correct them. But it depends on the terms of YOUR contract.

For what it's worth, we've had sellers say "nope, you're not getting any concessions, take it or leave it," and we've gone forward with closing.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:32 AM on August 13

All things should be listed with the estimated cost of repairing/upgrading from a contractor. One thing to keep in mind is you can’t ask for more after you’ve discussed the issues, but they can offer less when you present the issues. If you are listing all things and their estimate, they would most likely come back with a discount amount on the sale price. In my past experience, I’ve purchased 6 homes and sold 3, all parties are trying to get the most of their money. If you’re being fair, it may appeal to the seller to be fair as well. Think about the time and effort it will cost you in addition to the monetary cost of the repairs if they do not offer you anything at all. You may decide to walk away from this property.
posted by Yellow at 8:35 AM on August 13

The yard is sloping toward the house and there's evidence of previous water in the basement? HUGE red flag.

I'd get a basement/foundation company in there and get a quote on what's really going on and what needs to be fixed. This is an order of magnitude worse than all the other things you listed.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:27 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]

The yard isn't sloping towards the house, the area around the foundation is because the grading that was previously done no longer is there in that capacity.
posted by PetiePal at 10:02 AM on August 13

I agree this is really dependent on the market and the age of the house. Also depends on if you have an inspection contingency.

From the perspective of a home seller, of the list #7 is kind of a non-issue unless it is brand-new construction or that room was recently renovated. This is a relatively new code requirement that older homes don't meet. Personally I don't think it's fair for home buyers to expect an old home to be in like-new condition. Kind of a similar issue with roof and gutters - if it is a 20 year old home or older, then of course the roof isn't brand new unless it's advertised as brand new, that should be built into the price of the home on the market.

From the perspective of a home buyer, who cares about what's fair? Don't negotiate for the other side! Ask for more than you want and let them negotiate down. In my limited experience of buying and selling one home, unless you need repairs to get past the mortgage process, or unless their insurance will pay for the repair, it's better to get credit than to ask them to fix it. The seller is motivated to fix as quickly and cheaply as possible.
posted by muddgirl at 10:31 AM on August 13

This largely depends on whether you care to be ethical or not. Many buyers and sellers play this as a game of chicken and don't care in the least about being a decent human being. If that describes you, then you should ask for the moon. Ask for everything. Try to seem like you will truly back out of the sale if you don't get it. Keep your fingers crossed that the sellers are too scared of losing the sale not to concede.

How well that will work, as others have said, depends on whether it is a buyer's or seller's market. It depends on how long this house has been on the market. It depends on how attractive this house is to others and how likely it is they could find another buyer soon. It depends on how expensive/timeconsuming the remediations are. It depends on how realistic the credit requests are.

But it also depends on the personality of these particular sellers. I say this as someone who denied bogus requests for credit when she was selling her house, despite the fact that it had been on the market for a couple of months due to bad timing,

If you care about ethics, there are two important questions here:

1. Did you know about any of the issues prior to the home inspection? I was selling a pristine townhouse, and the home inspection found nothing meaty. So my buyers asked for a credit for cosmetic things and "nice to haves" they did *not* need an inspection for. They would have seen the crack in the front walk (for which they delusionarily asked $750!!), the lack of storm door, etc. If you made the offer knowing any of the things on your list, strike them off.

2. Which of these things are totally to be expected in a house of X age in Y location? We don't have enough information to determine that, but your realtor should.
posted by nirblegee at 12:30 PM on August 13

I would look very carefully at all the stuff that indicates moisture problem in basement - not just the grade of the slope but evidence of mold and leaks - that stuff is very very expensive.

Also if you are getting a home warranty avoid American Home Shield like the plague - class action suits in the works for not providing services - and there are very few such companies left in business.

Generally I'd ask for money off purchase price not to have them fix - they have no incentive to do a good job on a fix and you do.
posted by leslies at 2:55 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]

We bought a house recently and the seller was able to cover a number of items on our inspection via a claim on their homeowners insurance, including a new roof for our enjoyment. Is there any hail or wind damage to the roof/gutters? Or are they just old?
posted by the christopher hundreds at 2:55 PM on August 13

As someone who just sold a house and bought a house in the same market, I second the suggestions that you really need your realtor's advice on this (and I hope your realtor is good).

We used the same realtor for both transactions and he was someone we have known as a friend for the past nine years. He encouraged us to go ahead and work with our buyer (who asked for some fairly expensive concessions) because he felt like the offer we were getting was still quite fair for the market. That being said, he also made it quite clear that we could just say "No." And we kinda wanted to, honestly. We ended up compromising and saying "No" on one expensive item that fell outside the bounds of the original offer/contract, nor was it part of the inspection. We conceded money at closing for other items on the inspection report that were kinda judgment calls as to whether they were actual issues. The housing market in our area has started to slow some, so we were ready to be finished.

It is a bluffing game, ultimately. If the seller says "No" will you walk away or just say "Oh, okay, well, thought we'd ask"? We don't have enough information to give you good advice, particularly because we have no idea what your purchase price is relative to your market. Maybe you're getting the house for a steal in the first place and should just quit while you're ahead. Maybe you're overpaying and the inspection should really steer you away. As some have alluded, do you want concessions or do you want things fixed? Our real estate agent did note that in the past decade, he had seen the inspection process kinda morph into a stage where buyers essentially renegotiated the agreed upon selling price.
posted by Slothrop at 4:33 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]

Good points above from everyone, but concessions from a home inspection should be for things not turned up / obvious from initial walk through. Age of the roof is a common issue/known item. A 20 year old non-steel roof was likely put up with 20 year-warrantied shingles. Which is to say once you heard it was 20 years old, you should have assumed it needed replacing, and in theory this was priced in by the sellers.

If you're novice home buyers, your realtor should have mentioned this initially on walk through to help prepare you. If the realtor knew you were novice home buyers, but didn't metion that you should be planning to replace the roof in the next few years upon finding out the roof age, I think you need a new realtor. If the realtor never asked about the roof age, I think you need a new realtor; that and furnace/AC age are really basic questions.

Similarly, gutter cleaning is a normal house maintenance issue. Asking for a concession because of gutter debris is like asking for a concession because the house wasn't dusted well enough, or the furnace filter needed to be changed. As a seller if you asked me for a concession for debris in the gutters, I'd give mental side-eye to all of your requests however legitimate (gutter sagging, drain leaks, permits).
posted by nobeagle at 8:19 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]

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