The inspection is done, we've read through the report, and now we have to talk about our inspection objection. As we do that, here's a couple of things to keep in mind:
The inspection clause of the contract is heavily weighted in favor of you, the buyer. If the property isn't satisfactory, in your subjective discretion, you may request the seller to correct any deficiencies, or alternatively, you have the option to cancel the contract.
If you choose to cancel, there is a simple form to fill out, and that's it. No reason or explanation is necessary.
If you choose to request repairs or adjustments, the seller may agree or not. If we can't reach an agreement with the seller by your resolution deadline, the contract will automatically terminate. So, essentially, we're going to be negotiating again with the seller (and I'll bet you thought we were done with that).
As we do that, we'll want to try to categorize the problems into major and minor issues, and you and the seller may not agree with how the issues fall into those categories. But let's start with the big ones - health & safety issues, structural issues, mechanical issues, etc. These can be considered material defects in the property, and if we request that they be repaired, and the seller refuses, he will be obligated to disclose their existence to any future buyers if your contract should fall. So we have an advantage in asking for these to be repaired. But if they are pricey, be prepared for the seller to try to negotiate some participation from you. In some cases, that may make sense - in others, not so much. We'll ask and see what happens.
The next category of things will be stuff that is broken or damaged, but doesn't really constitute a defect. Maybe we're talking about a minor plumbing leak, or a missing fixture, or a non-functioning feature. This is going to be a gray area, and the seller's response will be based in part on what else you're asking for. So let's keep these in that same perspective - it's the big things we should really be concerned about first.
Finally, there may be some condition items - worn carpeting, discolored paint, scratches, etc. The general practice regarding this stuff is that they really aren't inspection issues, and that since they were, usually, in evidence when you made the offer, your offer should have accounted for them. Don't expect a lot of positive response on these issues.
As we make our list of what to ask for, let's try to get inside the seller's head a bit. Whatever we ask for, the seller is going to think about what you're paying for the property. If we really beat him up on the price negotiation, he's going to be a lot less enthusiastic about doing the requested work than if you made a full-price, or close to it, offer.
Okay, now let's get to that list. The answer to your original question - What can I ask the seller to fix - is literally, anything at all. But practically, let's talk about what is really important to you. Obviously, you're going to want the major issues addressed, and if there are only one or two, we can throw some other stuff - maybe the ones that would be the most hassle for you to take care of. But let's leave out the little things that a trip to Home Depot and 15 minutes with a wrench and a screwdriver would cover.
Once we have our list, let's do a little research. If we spend time getting some preliminary estimates on prices for these items, we'll have a much better idea how the seller may react, and we may decide to modify the list. We'll also want to think about how we structure the request - will we need to require that the work be done by licensed contractors? Are there specific contractors we want to do the work? Specific materials or products? If there are upgrades from standard quality, will you be willing to cover the difference in cost? (Hint: the answer to that last one is "yes".)
I think we're ready now. Let's write up your objection notice, get it to the listing agent, and see how it goes. And don't worry - everyone involved wants to see this settled. Let's keep that in mind as we work through it.