Twenty-five percent of May 2021 homebuyers waived the home inspection in their efforts to win a bidding war, according to research from the National Association of REALTORS®. It’s a dangerous tactic that we don’t recommend.
The results of a home inspection have the power to derail an entire deal. At best, the home is pristine and you have no requests to make. If inspection results reveal significant problems and the buyers are still willing, it can slow down a transaction while negotiations reopen and work gets done. Lenders, if you have one, usually won’t order appraisals until you are through your inspections and negotiations. At worst, it could kill your deal if you decide the problems revealed are more than you are willing to take on. Either way, waiving your right to an inspection isn’t wise.
Are repairs mandatory?
The short answer is No. Various states require certain fixes before the sale is consummated. California, for instance, requires that the water heater be strapped to the wall (earthquake safety regulations). In Nebraska, the home must have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors at the time of sale. But, this is Idaho, and no such mandates currently exist here. As a whole, there are no federal laws mandating certain repairs in a home sale. This is why many homes are sold in as-is condition.
If problems are serious enough, some homes only attract cash buyers, typically investors, and there’s a reason for this: Lenders generally won’t lend money to purchase a home with certain problems. Many insurers want their say in the matter as well. Home inspections reveal safety and health issues, violations of local building codes, and structural problems. Depending on your lender, type of financing, or insurance carrier, some of the findings may be a disqualifier for a mortgage.
The Veteran’s Administration, for instance, requires that the home adheres to its Minimum Property Requirements (MPR). You can find a list of them at benefits.va.gov.
Buyers using an FHA-backed loan may run up against some problems as well because FHA expects the property that they lend money on to adhere to its requirements. These requirements include that the home must offer:
- Adequate entry and exits (for example, windows) from the bedrooms to the home’s exterior.
- Non-leaking roof. A roof that isn’t worn.
- No structural problems.
- No peeling paint if the home was built before 1978.
- No “Defective exterior paint surfaces in homes constructed post-1978 where the finish is otherwise unprotected.”
These represent a few examples. For a more in-depth look at FHA requirements, visit HUD.gov.
Which repairs should I request?
After the lender and the insurance company have their say on which repairs they require, there may be other issues that make you uncomfortable. Anything that will impact your health should be at the top of the list of repair requests, along with any structural issues.
Check the home inspection report for anything that indicates:
- Electrical hazards
- Problems with the heating/cooling system
- Wood-destroying pest infestations
- Plumbing issues
- Water damage
Any of these problems aren’t necessarily deal breakers. Approach all repair requests in a spirit of respect and good faith and be willing to work with the seller on getting them resolved.
Cosmetic repairs are rarely entertained.
Repairs aren’t guaranteed
Repair requests vary, depending on whether the current housing market strongly favors the home seller or home buyer (ask your Realtor what kind of market you are in). If the market favors the seller, the demand for homes will be high. In fact, in that instance, buyers are not only not in the driver’s seat or even riding shotgun; they’re hitchhiking! Sellers know that more than one person is looking for/wanting their house. They have the opportunity to refuse to make repairs and could offer the home to the next buyer who’s willing to let those same requests pass. If the market favors the buyer, there will be an excess of houses on the market, placing buyers in the driver’s seat. Sellers know that the competition against their house is fierce and don’t want to scare you away from wanting their house. They are more likely to make repairs in this instance, rather than chance things with the next buyer.
The buyer usually starts by making their requests and then sellers tend to decide what they will fix and what is open for negotiation with the buyer. In a multiple-offer situation (where you were one of many to make an offer), it’s almost a take-it-or-leave-it scenario. There’s always another buyer right behind you. In that market, it’s important to weigh the risk of playing hardball. Weigh the risk against your desire for the home and your budget.
It’s crucial that you work closely with your real estate agent when making or responding to a repair request. We deal with these requests daily and can help you through the process.
Call 208-661-4749 for assistance in buying or selling a property.