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It depends on your Sale Agreement, the nature of the items you are being asked to repair, and your motivation to close your escrow. Here's what we mean. Your contract likely has several paragraphs that address inspections, repairs and the condition of the property. When the inspections are completed the Buyers, together with their agent, will prepare a list of items that they want the Seller to repair.
It is important as a Seller that you, together with your agent, study the list to determine the validity of the Buyer's requests. The list may innocently include items that are not the Seller's responsibility to repair. For example, a physical inspector will often note when things don't comply with current code, i.e.- deck baluster spacing, missing GFI breakers, etc.. If it was not required by code when the home was constructed, the Seller is usually not required to bring an item up to current code. Buyers often read an inspector's report and request that code-deficient items be included on their repair list. Code requirements are often life-safety issues, and should be respected when the inspector notes them, but Sellers aren't automatically obligated to mitigate them.
Some repair items may be required in order to get a new loan, and other items might need to be addressed depending on your intended use of the property, i.e.- insufficient exit windows in a basement that will be used for a bedroom. The fact that the Buyer needs those repairs does not obligate the Seller to do them. Understand, too, that cosmetic items that are deficiencies noted while viewing the property, i.e.- bad paint, holes in the doors, unless called out for in the Sales Agreement, are not necessarily required to be repaired.
Our advice: Repairs can become very costly very quickly if they are unchecked. Be very clear about the repair aspects of your contract - there are things that must be done, things that don't have to be done, and things that you might want done. Some Seller repairs can be mandatory and yet not a part of the contractual repair limits depending on the specific contract language, i.e.- broken window seals. Repairs that exceed the contract limits may be necessary to save the transaction. We've seen two such instances recently, one involving a French Drain, and the other a credit for re-plumbing an entire house. Though costly, they were in the Sellers' best interest and the Sellers' acquiescence to make the major repair gave the Buyers the comfort and confidence they needed to stay with the purchase. If an unknown major problem is revealed during the course of escrow it is important that a Seller realize that it will likely need to be remedied for a subsequent Buyer. With that realization it is usually in the Seller's best interest to make the necessary repair ... but not always. Each such situation is unique and must be thoroughly evaluated with a broad perspective before an action plan is agreed to.
Beware the Buyers that want a "gotcha" item or two ... a repair that they don't deserve. Such a Buyer is effectively continuing the sale negotiation after the fact. Repairs can certainly be the valid subject of negotiation during the course of an escrow. Buyers and Sellers often find that it can be in their best financial and emotional interest to make a concession and proceed with closing rather than to hold tight to the terms of the contract. Which side should concede and to what extent is transaction specific. Don't get hung up on principle. Your agents will guide you through this process so you not only get what you bargained for, you'll get what you want. Don't gamble with your most important investment.
Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine have been selling real estate in Northern Nevada over 33 years. They work at RE/MAX Realty Affiliates in Gardnerville, Nevada. All blog entries are based on their combined experience working daily as top producing real estate agents in their market. Feel free to post your questions or comments.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.