Dana currently works as a Realtor in Rhode Island.
How To Get Repairs Done on the Home You Want to Buy
people found Dana's experience helpful.
Being a Realtor is a tremendous amount of work, but it’s also rewarding. I enjoy bringing buyers and sellers together, helping them get to the next stage in their lives. While many deals fall apart before closing, the ones that don’t close usually provide a learning experience.
The biggest hurdle for buyers, in my experience, is related to material defects of the home and home repairs.
When a homeowner lists their property for sale, they are wise to disclose known material defects. Hiding problems, hoping no one will find them, is a mistake. Obvious defects don’t need to be listed in the disclosures — closet doors missing or stains on the carpet in plain sight, for example. If a seller discloses material defects, they won’t be surprised with further negotiations after the buyer has an inspection done. Sellers just need to be honest.
Before making an offer, a buyer should read the disclosures, discover the problems, and make an offer based on the known material defects. In Rhode Island, the inspection period occurs after the initial offer. In states where the inspection is completed prior to making an offer, the findings will affect the initial offer.
There will be occasions when the seller doesn’t actually know about the defects or problems that are found by the buyer’s home inspector. In these cases, the buyer either has to accept the problems, ask the seller to provide a remedy, or walk away from the deal. This is an area where a Realtor can be helpful with negotiations. Additionally, there are usually strict guidelines for timelines related to the home buying/selling process. Having a good real estate agent is enormously beneficial, especially to the buyer, since the buyer’s agent is paid by the seller in most cases.
Things that a seller may not be aware of could include dampness found in the attic related to a slow leak in the roof, black mold, or safety issues that should be addressed. When the buyer is made aware of the problem, they can walk away from the deal and have their deposit returned. If the buyer is still interested in the property, they can request that repairs be made by the seller or ask the seller for a monetary concession.
For plumbing and electrical problems that a buyer wants the seller to remedy, the request should be made stating that the repairs “must be completed by a licensed plumber or electrician.” The biggest mistake a buyer can make is not to ask for proof of the repairs or fail to have the property reinspected. If you don’t want to pay the home inspector for a follow-up inspection, get a receipt from the seller and check that the repairman is licensed. If you’re concerned about the cost of reinspection, ask your inspector during the initial inspection what they charge to reinspect. It’s usually a nominal fee. Most important to buyers, never take the seller’s word for it that the work was completed. Insist on proof. If the work isn’t done adequately and you proceed to close on the property, you could now own the problem. The buyer’s agent should be pressing the seller’s agent to produce receipts prior to the close.
A buyer who requests repairs but neglects to request receipts or to have a reinspection prior to close is at risk of owning the material defects after closing on the property. I’ve seen this happen, and it’s ugly. I represented a seller who told me he completed the requested repairs to the water heater. When the buyer’s agent asked if the repairs were done, I forwarded a text message that my seller sent stating the repairs were done. The buyer's agent and her client never asked for proof. Had I been asked, I would have discovered that the seller hadn't met his contractual obligation to have the plumbing repair request completed by a licensed plumber. He completed the repairs himself. Two months after closing, the buyer experienced a flood related to the deficient repair. The buyer or his agent should have had a reinspection or at least asked for proof of completion. The buyer closed without requesting proof, so the buyer now owns the problem. This particular situation will likely end in a legal battle between the buyer, the buyer’s agent, and the seller.
I’m positive that if that particular buyer could do anything differently in this transaction, it would be to request proof of repairs. The buyer’s agent is likely wishing the same. It would have delayed the closing, but they wouldn’t be facing a legal battle right now.