Before buying a home, it’s important for homebuyers to know what they’re getting into. In part one of this guide, we listed seven common problems that home inspectors find in a house that’s on the market. After receiving the home inspection report, homebuyers can then negotiate with the seller in order to get the issues fixed.

Deciding who will pay for home updates can be a challenge. Many home sellers don’t want to pay to repair a home that they are leaving, and chances are they have already spent money upgrading the home in other areas. On the other hand, homebuyers don’t want to pay for additional work to a home that they are already buying—they typically want a “move-in ready” property. In order for the buyers to get the upper hand, they will need many negotiating tools.

Although negotiations vary depending on state laws and the procedures of real estate firms, there are a few common practices. In their contract, homebuyers can stipulate that the seller will either fix any issues specified in the home inspection report or offer credit so the buyers can have the issues fixed themselves. Both options have their benefits and disadvantages—listed below are six simple guidelines that may help:

The Six Dos and Don’ts of Negotiating Home Inspection Repairs

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  1. Do know when to ask for repairs. Homebuyers tend to ask the seller to make repairs when the market favors the buyer or if the buyer needs the property finished as soon as possible. If the homebuyers want to be involved with every detail of the repair work, they should consider requesting credit instead.

  2. Do know when to ask for credit. If the homebuyers want to do the work themselves, or if the housing market is tough for buyers, it may be easier to ask for credit, which the seller will be more likely to agree to. If the homebuyers want a move-in ready property, they should consider asking for repairs instead.

  3. Do know when to walk away. When a home inspector finds something truly dangerous in the house that requires a large amount of money and time to address, it may be simpler to walk away from the home and find another. In most instances, it is possible for the homebuyer to get any deposits back as well.

  4. Do know the difference between fixes and upgrades. While sellers may offer credit or repair solutions for home damages, home upgrades (like the newest model air conditioner, for example) are usually negotiated. The homebuyer and seller can split the cost so that everyone is satisfied.

  5. Don’t get caught up on smaller repairs. Minor defects, cosmetic requests, or even appliance issues can be frustrating, but they shouldn’t derail the negotiating process. Homebuyers should spend their time and energy on negotiating over larger concerns. However, if smaller repairs remain an issue, homebuyers can try negotiating for a set money allotment to address them.

  6. Don’t expect to get everything. The goal of home negotiating is to ensure that both the seller and buyer are satisfied. Therefore, homebuyers should not expect to get everything on their negotiating list, but they should receive their fair share.

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