Whether you’re a home buyer or home seller, the process of scheduling, conducting and most importantly, negotiating the home inspection response is often times the most memorable part of any real estate transaction.
Interestingly enough, when it comes to conducting a home inspection, there are those who believe a home inspection is a PASS or FAIL process! Reallythat is not the case at all.
Some may also view the home inspection response as a way to negotiate a lower price in lieu of work to be donethis too is not the real purpose of this vital step in the home buying (and selling) process.
In actuality, the home inspection process is essentially the home buyers opportunity to conduct an assessment of the property for the purpose of their use.
Some home buyers may be buying the home AS-IS and will conduct a home inspection only to determine if all the major systems are within their ‘comfort zone’ since they may be planning on doing a gob of work anyway.
Others want the home inspection to be about what they need to know from a deferred maintenance standpoint. They know the home may need some workthey just don’t want any surprises!
Then there are home buyers who need to know the home is in the kind of condition that allows them quiet enjoyment with little to no need for work on their part.
Whatever your reason for conducting a home inspection, depending on the markets conditionnot to mention the homes condition, the home inspection response should be crafted with diligence and the intent to identify and remedy issues found in the home.
The intention of this post is to outline what you should expect and lastly, what you should negotiate as a home buyer and a home seller to insure the deal does not get nasty or worsefall apart.
In my humble opinion, every home buyer MUST have their potential home inspected! It’s both pragmatic and safe.
Even in the case of a very hot market where home buyers will waive their inspection contingency in order to curry favor with the seller and their offeryou still should do what you can to make sure the major systems are in good working order.
In the case of a surging sellers market or entering a bidding war where parties are waiving the home inspection in order to “win” the bid, make sure to conduct a pre-inspection.
A pre-inspection is a home inspection done before writing a purchase and sale. This ensures that you are not jumping into anything blindly and allows you to waive the home inspection contingency.
That said, market conditions aside, the S.O.P (Standard Operating Procedure) for most home buyers is to attach a Home Inspection Contingency to their Purchase and Sale Agreement.
This opportunity, known as the inspection contingency period, is established for the home buyer to have a specified time period, generally 10 days unless otherwise agreed upon, in which they can conduct their overall assessment of the condition of the property. This contingency period does not preclude a home buyer from conducting additional inspections on systems such as sewer or septic, inspection of a Well and even termite or other pest inspections the home buyer wishes to have done. Matter of fact, most properties serviced by a Septic or Well require an inspection of those systemscheck with your real estate broker for more information on that.
Often times, a home buyer will rely on their Broker to refer a home inspector for this task.
This can be a good thing and maybe a bad thing. Most Brokerages in the State of Washington require their Associate and Managing Brokers attach an Inspector Referral Disclosure which complies with WAC 308-124C-125*.
Simply put, Washington State law requires that a real estate broker, who refers a home inspector to a buyer or seller with whom the broker has a current or past relationship including, but not limited to, a business or familial relationship, fully disclose in writing to the buyer or seller the nature of that relationship. A home buyer should ask their real estate broker to provide them with this form (NWMLS 41D)
All that aside, hiring a home inspector is really just the first step in this process. The next step is to schedule the home inspection. Most home inspections will take several hours depending on the size and scope of the home inspection.
During your contingency period, you will have time to attend the home inspection along with your real estate broker (it’s required that they or a licensee from their Brokerage be there during the entire home inspection), go over the report with your home inspector and finally lay out a strategic plan with your real estate broker, the home inspection response for the sellers.
This could be one of the more stress filled parts of the home buying process and honestly, where most real estate deals go ‘off the rails’ so to speak.
Gathering your thoughts (and emotions) as a home buyer and determining what is and what isn’t a ‘must fix’ item can be intense. After all, this is likely your largest financial investment you’re ever going to make so you want to be sure you get this right!
With the assistance of your real estate broker (hopefully), you begin the process of going through your checklist of what you want the seller to attend to.
As mentioned earlier, this may vary from buyer to buyer but this is the time you need to determine the overall longevity of the heart and soul of the house. I’d categorize the major systems as:
These are your ‘Big Ticket’ items and may or may not fall in the budget of a seller to fix. Some home buyers may consider any of these as ‘Deal Killers’ if the home seller are not willing or able to remedy.
NOTE: This post is in no way advocating how to proceed with negotiating your home inspection responsejust my thoughts after 20 years of selling houses.
As the home buyer goes through the inspection report, some may feel the need to ask the home seller for everything and the kitchen sink. Bear in mind, no house is perfect and no home buyer should expect such. That said, focusing only on the things that logically should be remedied by the home seller will greatly reduce the likelihood of a negative reaction from the home seller.
Now that the home buyers request(s) for repairs or modifications has been submitted to the home seller, it’s their turn to respond.
This is often where ‘Feathers may get ruffled” in the transaction. Most home owners have lived quite comfortably in their house for many years thank you very much (insert snarky tone here). And to have a complete stranger come in and demand request this and that be fixed can be met with some resistance. Every home seller should detach themselves from the emotional side of the home and look at this pragmatically. Eyeing the bigger picture of selling the home and moving on should be the priority here!
Certainly, some items may be added to the home inspection response that can easily be dismissed by the home seller. As mentioned earlier in this post, some home buyers may feel the need to ask for too much!
Now the sellers response is sent back to the buyer for their reply
IT’S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THERE IS A TIME PERIOD AND SUBSEQUENT DEADLINE IN ALL THIS! EVERYTHING OUTLINED ABOVE, FROM BUYERS REQUEST TO SELLER RESPONSE MUST BE PREFORMED IN THAT DESIGNATED TIME PERIOD.
See NWMLS Form 35: line items 29-30 as well as line items 54-58 or ask your real estate broker for details.
The home inspection response is something that is to be taken very seriously! This is the home buyers one chance to make sure their largest investment will give them the quiet enjoyment they want.
It’s also vital the home seller be diligent in remedying any major items or issues BECAUSEthese home buyers may decide to go away, BUT THE PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED WILL NOT!
It also bears noting, home buyers should ALWAYS ask their real estate broker to take the time to answer any questions or concerns they have about both the home inspection process as well as the verbiage on the NWMLS forms 35 Inspection Addendum and the NWMLS form 35R Inspection Response to form 35!