Many home buyers do not realize that California purchase contracts contain verbiage that says they are purchasing a home in "as is" condition. A seller is under no obligation to make repairs nor offer buyers a credit based on the findings of a home inspector. But that doesn't mean that a seller will refuse. Much depends on the type of market and type of seller.
Often a Sacramento home buyer will say to me: "But when we bought our home, the seller paid for X and Y and Z." They don't realize that a single transaction doesn't dictate how negotiations will proceed on another home because most people don't buy a lot of homes at one time. Their experiences are limited to a particular type of market and a different time.
A home inspection is for the buyer's benefit. A good home inspector will disclose defects, and all homes have defects. A home inspection is not an opportunity for the buyer to tick off defects and create a laundry list of demands for the seller to repair.
Generally, if a home inspection discloses a major problem such as a failing foundation, an inoperable HVAC system or leaky plumbing, sellers may opt to fix it or give the buyer a credit. But if you ask for a cracked window to be replaced, it's very possible a seller might say, "But you saw that when you toured the home and, if it was a concern, why wasn't it addressed in the purchase contract?"
We have a lot of foreclosures and short sales in Sacramento right now, and those types of sellers rarely agree to make repairs. If homes aren't selling, sellers are more agreeable to making repairs. If there is a lot of competition for that home due to multiple offers, a seller just might go on to the next buyer and let the first buyer cancel.
An experienced real estate agent can offer buyers advice and negotiate repairs. I tell buyers to pick your battles. One of my buyers is purchasing a foreclosure flipper. The home inspection suggested we further investigate the HVAC, so the buyer ordered an additional inspection. The initial inspection disclosed the HVAC system had no split differential, which could mean a cracked heat exchanger or it could mean the AC is out of refrigerant. Sometimes fixing a cracked heat exchanger could mean replacing the entire system.
The buyer was very concerned because the kitchen had no GFI. Well, a GFI costs about 15 bucks at The Home Depot. On the other hand, the AC repairs are running closer to $1,000. I suspect this particular seller will cooperate. After all, the seller would need to disclose this defect to the next buyer. And it was how hot yesterday? Tuesday's downtown Sacramento temperature was 92.
Elizabeth Weintraub is an author, home buying columnist for The New York Times-owned About.com, a Land Park resident, and a Land Park real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown and East Sacramento. Weintraub is also a Sacramento Short Sale agent who lists and successfully sells short sales throughout Sacramento. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put 35 years of real estate experience to work for you. DRE License # 00697006.
The Short Sale Savior, by Elizabeth Weintraub, available through bookstores everywhere and at Amazon.com.
Photo: Caylyn Wright Brown
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