What Are Negotiating Rights After Inspection of House?

Home Inspection NegotiationThe Title of this post are the exact words of a Google Search for those keywords that I found in my blog stats today.  When seeing it I thought it would make a good topic for a post.  Hope you agree.

To some extent the words “Rights” and “Negotiating” are contradictory.  If you have an actual “right” to something, you don’t NEED to negotiate it.  So suffice it to say that you have no “negotiating rights” in the strict sense.  You likely have a “right” to cancel the contract based on the inspection, but not a right to repairs.

If you have included an inspection contingency in your contract, then you have some rights.  You have the right to hire an inspector.  You have the right to gain access to the home for inspection.  Personally I think you should STOP the inspection the minute you find something that causes you to not want the house.  You save money usually (some inspectors; not all) and you really shouldn’t be nosing around someone’s house once you have decided not to buy it.  That’s my personal opinion.

I often hear “Doesn’t the seller have to fix…?”  The seller doesn’t HAVE to anything, nor does the buyer for that matter.  So the buyer has the right to ASK.  To answer the question literally, “what are (the) negotiating rights after Inspection…”  You have the right to ASK would probably be the closest accurate response. 

Most and virtually all inspections that fail, fail due to poor communication. 

1) Don’t just point out a problem without being specific about the remedy requested

2) Try to give a variety of remedies, so the seller can choose one

Examples:

Inspector says: “Hot Water Tank is 14 years old and should be replaced as life expectancy of this hot water tank is 10-12 years”  Remember, from the seller’s perspective there is nothing wrong with it.  It heats up the water just fine, they never run out of hot water and it’s not leaking or knocking or causing any problem whatsoever.  It’s just old.

Yes my friends, there is assisted suicide and genocide involving old hot water tanks.  It’s age descrimination, and some are put to rest before their time has come.

Let’s use some common sense here.  What is around this tank often suggests the appropriate remedy.

1) Hot water tank is in a condo on the third floor.

My suggested remedy?  “Hot water tank to be replaced by seller prior to closing.”

2) Hot water tank is in the garage and much of the owners valuable belongings are stored there prior to moving.  Very valuable things that used to be in the house but ended up in the garage when decluttering the house for it to go on market.

My suggested remedy? “Hot water tank to be replaced as soon as possible by seller.”  Once you are aware of a potentially dangerous situation, one that could cost thousands of dollars if the tank blew and the water damaged the seller’s things, you should pass that info on to the seller.  How would you feel if you asked for a credit or didn’t ask for a new tank at all, and the tank blew 3 days before closing and the seller’s stuff got ruined?  Might you be liable in some way for not passing that info on to the seller?

3) Hot water tank is in garage and nothing that could be damaged by water is anywhere in the garage and the water couldn’t get into the house if the tank blew.

In this instance you can take a credit for the repair.  You can ask for a 1 year home warranty just in case it goes bad in the first year.  You can ask for any of the remedies above as well. 

No, the seller doesn’t HAVE TO.  But those are reasonable requests in my opinion, though #3 is not a given for sure.

You have the right to ASK.  The seller has the right to say NO.  If people would be honest and only ask for legitimate items and appropriate remedies, no one would feel like someone is trying to club them over the head.  A home inspection is NOT a chance to take advantage of someone.  There are reasonable requests and unreasonable requests. 

Ask yourself this?  Would YOU replace a 14 year old tank in that location if you bought the house 8 years ago, just because it is “past its life expectancy”.  If yes, then it is reasonable for YOU to ask.  If no, then maybe not.  Apply that Golden Rule to all items and you will be negotiating fairly.  If you are reasonable, you likely will get everything you should.  Maybe not everthing you WANT, but everything you SHOULD want. 

About ARDELL

ARDELL is the Managing Broker of Sound Realty in Seattle/Kirkland. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has over 22 years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. Follow Ardell on Google+

Comments

  1. I look at inspections as being patent/latent. If the roof is obviously 20 years old, you don’t make an offer and then come in after the inspection asking for a new roof. If you are going to ask for a new roof, make that a part of the initial offer.

    Unfortunately the buyer has the seller in a bit of a bind, because the listing will not look good having gone from Active, to STI, then back to active. So buyers can be a bit unreasonable and get away with it.

  2. Great post Ardell! Listing agents today need to discuss the property conditions with seller well before getting an offer so seller has some idea of what things might be asked by buyer.

    Also, sellers, please please please either yourself, or a contractor, go into your crawl space before putting your house on the market and see if you have: water, rodents, old wood debris from when house was built, damaged or missing vent covers, etc. Check your gutters and downspouts and make sure they are not plugged, and are not discharging right next to your foundation.

    So many times inspection requests from buyers could be prevented.

    Nothing is more stressful for all parties than an expensive surprise relating to work needing to be done.

  3. Kary,

    A lot of that has to do with the agent. The funniest request I ever saw after a home inspection was:

    “seller to move washer and dryer from second floor to first floor”

    Have you seen any odd ones?

  4. I don’t recall any odd ones.

    On yours I wonder if they contemplated the connections also being moved, or just the washer and dryer being moved? ;)

  5. Kary,

    It wasn’t mine, it was one of the agents in our office. They did get a cash credit for all items. Wonder what the buyers ended up doing with the washer and dryer. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think they closed.

    Sometimes buyers acting “squirrely” during negotiations is a sign that they are backing out mentally or not committed in the first place.

    Oh, I remember. The seller decided not to sell. Sometimes you can ask for too much. The seller cancelled in the end, not the buyer. I guess they reached the point of “this is just ridiculous!”

  6. Wow do I have an entirely different take on this issue. I personally handle 5 to 10 inspection negotiations per month involving a pretty even split between buyer and seller clients. I absolutely believe the inspection period is an opportunity for the parties to freely negotiate to their hearts content specifically because it is the only meaningful time they have left to do so before closing. It’s now or never and, subject to the duty of good faith and fair dealing implicit in every contract, if you don’t get the best deal you can right now then you have no one to blame.

    This is one of the areas where I think real estate agents’ conflict of interest becomes a significant factor in the deal. The simple fact is that agents don’t get paid unless the deal goes through thus they have a strong incentive to make sure the inspection requests and responses are accepted by the parties. I have personally experienced numerous situations where I can almost guarantee that the agent on the other side advised their client to just accept a proposal where any decent negotiator would recognize they had room to negotiate. Especially illuminating for me have been the situations where my client also had an agent representing them (in those deals I’ve often been brought in after mutual acceptance). In more than one of those cases I have seen negotiation skills so poor that I consider them malpractice and very often I see negotiation skills limited to “well, we should just split the difference and see if they accept it.

  7. I can’t believe I said “you have no one to blame.” What kind of attorney says something like that?

    I should have said “you will have a more difficult time successfully recovering remuneration from whomever you choose to blame.”

  8. Marc wrote: “I have personally experienced numerous situations where I can almost guarantee that the agent on the other side advised their client to just accept a proposal where any decent negotiator would recognize they had room to negotiate.”

    You can’t assume that. In particular I remember one transaction where the buyer asked for a lot in the form of a monetary adjustment, and my seller came back saying: “I know you aren’t going to like this, but we’re going to accept his proposal.”

  9. Marc I agree with Kary. Sometimes sellers and buyer’s do things that I don’t think are in their best interest and give when I think they should negotiate harder.

    I’ve also seen buyers and sellers walk away from deals that are really good over a $200. Negotiation is a fine art and being overly agressive does not always mean you “win” the negotiation. Sometimes that strategy can really backfire and a home sell for less in the future.

    I think Ardell’s post is right on the mark.

  10. Ardell is correct that just because there is an inspection contingency doesn’t mean that it automatically opens up negotiation again. I’m also in agreement with Leanne (#2) about getting into places that the inspector will go. I have a client buying a house right now that looks just fine from the street but we found out has a rodent infestation and lots of debris in the crawlspace – we’ve got the owners paying for pest eradication, replacement of all insulation, and more because of it. I’ve gotten into the habit of when I’m listing properties to not only pay for the window washing in/out but to also have the same guys do the gutters while they’re up there since we know that comes up on inspections all the time.

  11. Reba, if you take away easy things like the gutters, you’re just going to make the inspector look harder to find something! ;)

  12. Melina,

    I agree that negotiation is a “fine art and being overly aggressive does not always mean you “win

  13. I’m with Kary’s #11.

    Part of the artform of negoatiating is leaving a bone for the dogs to pick on. That’s true of both inspector’s and attornies who both have to make it look like they earned their pay by making a fuss over something.

    If you leave them nothing to make a fuss over…they will FIND something else to make a fuss over. They pretty much have to do that to justify their place in the transaction.

    If you leave a few things, minor and sometimes major ones, but know about them in advance, you often set up the win-win for the end run.

  14. “Another thing I find extremely troubling is the amount of information that agents give me about their clients. It seems they expect a certain quid pro quo and are quite taken aback when I don’t reciprocate.”

    Hey Marc,

    Don’t you feel like you have the upper hand a bit when the agent gives you “more” info than they “should”? Don’t rule that out as part of the negotiation strategy.

    One thing I find VERY troubling is an inspector who makes something look WORSE than it is, so as to help “their client” negotiate. That’s plain old LYING and I am seeing it more and more. In fact some inspectors are being trained to do it that way.

  15. Marc wrote: “I have personally experienced numerous situations where I can almost guarantee that the agent on the other side advised their client to just accept a proposal where any decent negotiator would recognize they had room to negotiate.

  16. Inspection phase is NOT the time to renegotiate price and make up “stuff” to take another ding at price. Don’t make an offer you can’t live with hoping to “make up for it” at inspection time. Deal with the issue at hand each time. Price negotiation is about price and terms. In contract negotiations are about the matter at hand and NOT a chance to re-negotiate the initial price and terms.

    That is not acting in good faith. No one wants a seller who is trying to trick them or mislead them about the house. So why would a buyer turn the tables and apply tricks and unfair tactics? Bad kharma.

    Once someone tries to “get me”, they are going to get got. I play fair until the other side doesn’t. Then it’s time for someone to cry “uncle” and rarely is it the seller.

    • PJ Schultz says:

      We are currently in the process of buying a home. We were informed before our inspection that there had been a previous buyer and home inspection that had passed with nothing wrong with the home. However, the previous buyers didn’t follow through on the purchase due to the contingency sale not happening. Imagine our surprise when we were informed the roof was leaking and there was not only damage to the shakes but it had penetrated and there was damage to the structure beneath the boards in the attic space. And if not fixed, there would be mold problems. He advised us to get a professional roofing contracter to inspect it further. Owners refused to pay for the roof or reduce the original price on the roof to cover some of the cost. Sellers agent states they will get a precert on the roof. A precert isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. It just gets the bank to approve the loan but leaves the buyer to cover the cost of a new roof above the listed price. Your right about one thing we are in it for the cost of the homes appraisal and the cost of an inspecion. Question is what should be done first, the appraisal or the inspection? The appraiser came in with full asking price and added an additional 100 sq feet to the builders square footage and property tax assessments. No new additions have been built. Through mistakes of an appraiser and the first inspection as a buyer it’s us who are out the money. I’d like to hear what you think and how a buyer can prevent themselves from going through this situation again.

      • I just had a similar situation where my buyer client kept telling me the seller’s agent said it was “pre-inspected” and everything was good. OMG! It was the WORST inspection I have every had! I’m starting think just hearing an agent for the seller saying it was just inspected and everything’s fine is a sure sign that something is seriously wrong!

        You have to do your due diligence and you have to be willing to walk away even though you put out some money. Buying a home is an expensive endeavor. Better to lose the inspection fee than take a house with huge current issues and even worse potential future issues.

        Usually a really bad problem doesn’t cost much a long as you tell the inspector to look for the deal breakers first. Most will cut their fee by 50% to 75% if they find a deal killer issue quickly.

        I can’t comment further as every case is different. You cannot rely on agent for the seller speeches as they are representing the seller and need you to buy that house. A buyer’s agent needs you to buy “a” house…but not THAT house. You cannot get your information from the agent for the seller. It makes no sense to think you can.

  17. Also if a problem brought up is legitimate (and not patent), it’s not like they can just find another buyer and ignore it.

  18. LOL! You crack me up Kary with the whole Patent or Latent chatter. Of course I “get it”. But do you really think Average Joe Buyer understands the difference between Patent and Latent or gives a hoot that it wasn’t “latent”?

    The days of only “latent defects” being at issue in an inspection are way over. You have to be a Baby Boomer to even “get” that aspect.

  19. Ardell, I think it’s actually the reverse. The average buyer does understand that if they see a 20 year old roof, that the price they put on the house should be based on it having a 20 year old roof. They might not describe it as patent/latent, but they understand.

    But in response to the comment you posted on, the owner of a house isn’t going to be required to fix any patent defect if the deal falls through. So for example, if the buyer asks to have the 20 year old roof replaced, they can move on to the next buyer without replacing the roof. If they ask to have the dry rot in the footings replaced, or a bad electrical ground fixed, they can’t just move on and try to find another buyer.

  20. Wrong Kary. Your clients may think that a 20 year old roof is OK because YOU feel that way. Mine do not. A 20 year old roof is NOT OK if it’s a 20 year shingle roof and IS OK if it is a 35 to 50 year shingle roof, unless the inspector finds installation issues or flashing issues.

    If the buyer doesn’t have the money to fix a patent defect, then knowing it exists doesn’t help them. If you are counseling your clients that patent defects are already accounted for in price, then you are counseling them in an “old fashioned” way. Yes, even I used to do that…but it’s a carry over from when we all represented sellers, and not appropriate today if you are the agent for the buyer in the transaction.

    You are incorrect on your entire second paragraph. Where in the inspection contingency does it say a buyer CAN’T request a “patent” defect or that a seller MUST repair a latent one? Used to…many, many moons ago. But not today.

    Your “can’t” list is your opinion, not contractual. Maybe I’m wrong on that, so feel feel to quote me where in the contract your position is and I’ll be happy to eat my words. I thought it was “right to cancel” as my post says. Not a right to ask ONLY for latent defects. Though when I started in the business that was the case, not so today.

  21. “In more than one of those cases I have seen negotiation skills so poor that I consider them malpractice and very often I see negotiation skills limited to “well, we should just split the difference and see if they accept it.

  22. Ardell, we’ll just have to disagree. But it’s not a dispute over contractual language, it’s an ethical dispute.

    I agree they can ask for patent items as a matter of contract law. I’m saying it’s not ethical for a buyer to request a 20 year roof be replaced if it was obvious the roof was not in good shape and that should have been accounted for in their original offer price.

    To put this in a different context, it would be like buying a car subject to a mechanic’s inspection, and then coming back and saying you want $2,000 to get it repainted. That’s not typically going to fly.

  23. You are wrong, wrong and double wrong Kary. I say this for your own good and for the good of agents reading this exchange.

    Trust me…we ALL “used to” feel that way, but it is totally inappropriate for a buyer agent to lean that way. It is my soapbox that agents lean that way, and not a personal attack.

    Buyer Agency should be BETTER than that. It needs to GET better than that. Any agent who isn’t on the buyer’s side of the fence and has a foot in the seller’s side needs to hand over their clients to Marc and Craig.

    NO BUYER SHOULD HAVE TO SUCK UP A BAD ROOF CAUSE IT WAS BAD WHEN THEY GOT THERE!

    Had to shout that one.

  24. “Ardell, we’ll just have to disagree. But it’s not a dispute over contractual language, it’s an ethical dispute.”

    Yes it certainly IS poor ethics for an agent to impose non-contractual criteria to their own client’s detriment.

  25. Ardell, I can’t believe you’re saying that. I guess if those are your ethics, I’ll just advise any seller client of mine to reject your clients’ offer, because the offer will be illusory. I can’t believe you feel that way.

  26. Nobody “has” to do anything.

    Sometimes, we get so full of ourselves that we expand our role beyond what is desired by the principals, which is to buy and sell real estate. It is not our job to interfere with people who want to buy and sell real estate, and pretending that we’re somehow Protecting Them or Fighting For Their Rights by blowing up transactions for them is a disservice.

    And I’m not exactly certain what “old-fashioned” has to do with anything. The whole idea of recording deeds is “old-fashioned,” yet it still serves a purpose.

    But as to whether tying up a property and later negotiating on “patent” defects is unethical … the PRINCIPALS to the transaction are not bound by a Code of Ethics, are they?

    Lastly – must we be continually reminded that agents and attorneys are not the principals in the transaction?

  27. Kary,

    You can’t be thinking about your seller client when we are talking about buyer’s rights in an inspection negotiation.

    That’s the problem with agents…they can’t figure out which side of the fence they are on and most often envision themselves on the seller side of the fence.

    As a buyer’s agent you really can’t impose your seller oriented thinking on the buyer’s side of the equation. Please, please “get that”.

    And threatening to advise your sellers that I’m a good buyer’s agent ain’t appropriate either! All agents should be good buyer’s agents and a 20 year roof is OLD if it’s a twenty year shingle and if the buyer has no money to buy a new one in the next few years, then we better address it before closing! I may not care if your sellers add it to the price, depending on the situation…but let’s get it done! and not leave the buyer with a leaky roof in two years.

    Advising buyer clients to suck it up and move on is just not right, and I think if you think really hard about it, you will agree with me…eventually…cause I’m right on this one.

  28. Mack,

    Apparently yes, we all need to be reminded who it is and who it is NOT that we are working FOR at any given moment.

    If you want to be a paper shuffler that hands things back and forth…give your client a fax machine or sign them up for an eFAX account. It’s cheaper for them than an agent to pass paper back and forth.

  29. Mack and Kary,

    It is “old fashioned” that the rules of play have been predetermined by the sellers. Sure I represent sellers just as well WHEN I am representing the seller.

    But adivising a buyer client that a 20 year old roof should be assumed to be included in the price, is not appropriate and IS old fashioned in the sense that it is not advocating properly for your buyer client.

  30. Ardell, I wasn’t talking about being a “paper pusher” or being unclear which party an agent is working for. Instead, I want to illustrate that while it’s convenient shorthand to say “when I come across this with my clients, I do that,” the fact of the matter is that it is the Principal who decides which course of action to take, not the agent.

    As to the statement that “NO BUYER SHOULD HAVE TO SUCK UP A BAD ROOF CAUSE IT WAS BAD WHEN THEY GOT THERE!” – well, maybe. More likely, a buyer will “suck up a bad roof” because the deal is good enough even with the bad roof. Or they’ll move on. In whichever event, it is not the Agent’s role to decide for the Principals.

  31. On the other hand, we should also acknowledge that the Rules of Play are not at all pre-determined by the Principals, but by the provider of the forms.

  32. Mack,

    You and I are so not on the same wave length. We don’t get the big bucks to stand around with our thumbs up our butts without providing advices every step of the way. Our experience makes our advice important to the principals.

    As to the provider of the forms determining the rules of play…OMG!!! It’s a freakin’ form! CHANGE IT if your client needs something other than what “the form” provides. You’re kidding me right? Only one way…the way of “the form”? How disempowered is THAT!

    Again, agents who think that way should hand their clients to Craig and Marc. They know what to do with a form that doesn’t fit the client’s needs.

  33. Mack,

    Maybe you just want to write a counter-post on the PI. I promise not to come over there and bug you. You and I are just worlds apart. I’ve read some of your stuff over there and I just close the door and come back here. I would never come over there and contradict you in “your house”. I feel badly, but there just is no way you and I see things the same way.

    If you are not an advocate for your client, get them a fax machine. Introduce them to the seller and leave, if the buyer and seller are all that count in these matters. If your advice and opinion doesn’t matter, why are you there?

    You need to get a little more full of yourself.

  34. Well, I must be wrong, then.

    Still – my understanding of the word “pre-determined” means, determined earlier.

    And while it’s certainly the vernacular to say/write “I do this and I do that,” I think it’s worthwhile reminding all of our readers that what we as agents really do is provide our expertise and allow our clients to decide what to ask for and what to concede.

    Unless you have an agent who thinks that he’s the principal in the transaction, not you. In which case, he’ll do stuff like tell you, “nah, we don’t have to give them a freaking thing, they won’t walk.” Uh huh.

    But, really, Ardell, if I’m not welcome here, then fine. Mostly, I just like to be where Kary is!

  35. You are welcome here anytime Mack. I just feel badly because we don’t really agree much and I don’t know you as well as I know Kary. There’s a difference between being a very trusted advisor, a strong advocate and “the principal”.

    But I have to make “what I would do IF I were you VERY clear.” I often write a contract without asking a client what they want in the blanks. Then they can change what I’ve put there. But if they are unsuccessful, or call me back to sell the house I told them would be a problem on resale, at least they know they received good advices and declined them.

    I’m not an order taker, though I will fill an order as long as the principal first has my best advices before determining their stance. And I put MY advices in the contract, and they can change them anytime prior to signing it.

    I won’t let a buyer NOT ask for something in the inspection that is a safety hazard. I’ll pay for it myself, but I won’t let them move in with children and a fire hazard heating unit.

    I won’t write an offer that is the absolute wrong house for that person. There’s plenty of agents to do it and there’s always Redfin.

    I won’t be lesser for money. I’m an odd duck that way.

    Plus you know full well that we have lots of conversations with the agent for the seller and the seller that tip us off differently than the principal. We have more info, nuances, words unspoken, read between the lines info, before getting to offer stage. We have a lot more info on which to base our advices than the principal is privvy to.

  36. Ardell wrote: “You can’t be thinking about your seller client when we are talking about buyer’s rights in an inspection negotiation. >> That’s the problem with agents…they can’t figure out which side of the fence they are on and most often envision themselves on the seller side of the fence. >>As a buyer’s agent you really can’t impose your seller oriented thinking on the buyer’s side of the equation. Please, please “get that

  37. Ardell wrote: “And threatening to advise your sellers that I’m a good buyer’s agent ain’t appropriate either! All agents should be good buyer’s agents and a 20 year roof is OLD if it’s a twenty year shingle and if the buyer has no money to buy a new one in the next few years, then we better address it before closing!”

    It should be addressed at the time of the offer if that’s what the situation is. Not after the offer is accepted and the inspection comes back as expected.

    Of course a seller might give in to that type of behavior for any number of reasons. That doesn’t make it right. If you know the roof needs to be replace, and now your client can’t otherwise deal with it, it should be addressed in the original offer.

  38. Mack wrote: “On the other hand, we should also acknowledge that the Rules of Play are not at all pre-determined by the Principals, but by the provider of the forms.”

    And in this instance the inspection contingency form is largely buyer biased. If I were to change it, it would require the buyer conduct a professional inspection, and that the seller be given an opportunity to fix any objectionable items in lieu of the buyer walking.

  39. “As to the provider of the forms determining the rules of play…OMG!!! It’s a freakin’ form! CHANGE IT if your client needs something other than what “the form

  40. Kary,

    You should want the buyer to have the right to negotiate a 20 year old roof when you are the agent for the buyer. Maybe you are correct as to when you are the agent for the seller. But you don’t seem to want different things depending on whom you represent at the time, as I feel one should.

  41. No, Ardell, I don’t want the buyer to negotiate that if it’s a patent condition if I represent a buyer, and they’ll know that before they make an offer. Perhaps trying to do that will cause the seller to reject other legitimate inspection issues that the seller has. Perhaps it will make them reject any changes. Perhaps that will cause the seller to do other things that are not favorable to the buyer down the road (e.g. not clean the house as well as they would have, not leave things they otherwise would ask about, pursue their financing contingency inspection rights fully). Once one side throws good faith and ethics out the window, the other side will too. That’s not good for anyone.

    When you’re dealing with parties you should deal with them in good faith, and trying to get a reduction in price for a patent condition is not dealing in good faith.

  42. Kary,

    A roof that needs replacement is likely one of the #1 issues in a home purchase and sale, barring foundation and drainage issues.

    With all due respect I ask that you stop counseling buyers to suck it up. It is not unethical to negotiate a roof that needs replacing at time of inspection, and you are skewing things away from that direction based on your personal opinion.

    I get your point as to the outlying issues, and yes, asking for a gutter to be cleaned out in an offer with multiple bids will have its adverse consequences as you suggest. But a roof is way too important to chalk up to “it’s old and you knew that going in…so suck it up”. (my words not Kary’s)

    Also, letting it fall to inspection timeframe when you are in contract IS a better strategy than up front, if there are multiple offers.

    Anyway you slice it…discounting it up front is NOT the way to go as you never know when another offer is coming, and you can’t expect most buyers to look at it the way you are forcing your buyers to look at it. And that puts your client at a disadvantage.

  43. Ardell, we’re not talking about a roof that needs replacement. We’re talking about a roof that is 20 years old. If there’s some latent defect with the roof that means it’s already failed, that’s an entirely different matter (unless perhaps the listing says–property needs new roof ASAP).

    But let’s say you’re dealing with a roof with obvious issues, such as shingles blown off during a windstorm. Not leaking, but in need of repair at a minimum. There, IMHO, the initial offer should specify what the buyer expects. It shouldn’t come up in the inspection response, unless perhaps the buyer thought the roof could be repaired and it turns out replacement is required.

  44. Kary,

    If there is more than one offer, that is not the best strategy for a buyer to use. Say there is no other offer. Who’s to say one won’t come ten minutes after you submit yours? So no, there’s a time for everything…and timing is everything in negotiations.

    Not a good strategy from the buyer’s position to pin everything down upfront, unless it sweetens the offer above all others

  45. Well, Ardell, what goes around comes around. People that act that way will get what’s coming to them eventually.

  46. Here’s a good hypothetical. House has older roof that will obviously need to be replaced within 5 years. Buyer and seller negotiate back and forth on price, and finally come to terms. Buyer does inspection, inspector finds only that roof has less than 5 years left, but buyer asks for a $5,000 concession from the seller for the roof, and a few other legitimate items which might cost $3,000 to fix. Buyer’s agent sends inspection response directly to listing agent, but not listing agent’s broker. How should the listing agent advise the seller when asking whether they should let the selling agent know of the mistake? :D

  47. Key word there being “obviously”. Obvious to whom? If it is obvious to YOU then you should say so in the flyer. If you don’t reveal that to the buyer in the Form 17 or the information on the house, then is someone supposed to read your mind?

    Besides you seem to want to say a 20 year shingle could last longer. To me “obvious 5 years left” is a 13- 15 year roof that’s a 20 year shingle or a 20 year roof that’s a 25 year shingle Not a 20 year roof that is a 20 year shingle and a roofer says “could last another 3-5″.

    A light colored roof usually lasts longer than a black one. A second shingle often lasts less than a new first layer, depending on how old the first layer was when you put on the second. Then there’s a third layer roof that could say “new roof” and need to be thrown away, if the first layer was a wood shingle.

    By counseling your buyer or seller clients that the roof is pre-determined to be “good enough” because it’s “obvious”, you have become the home inspector and circumvented the inspection process. Not good for the seller or the buyer.

    Yes, we should be able to eyeball a roof and warn the seller or the buyer in advance. But that is to prevent surprises, NOT to circumvent the inspection process.

    Your 46 suggests that a buyer who relies on the process as it exists is trying to cheat someone. Not so. The due diligence process includes a home inspection and a home inspection phase. Those who do not utilize it, and are being counseled NOT to utilize it, are being shortchanged.

    If you don’t want anything to come up after initial negotiations, then require a pre-inspection. That would be a better way to prevent surprises than assuming everyone agrees with you about that roof, without your needing to mention it.

    IF the buyer and seller agreed to price mentioning roof as a reason for the lower price, then inspection should exclude roof if it has more than 5 years left on it. You should write that into the contract, if that is the clear understanding of both parties. Otherwise you and the seller may be assuming something that is not a true “meeting of the minds”. That “meeting of the minds” should be put in writing, in the contract by the listing agent.

  48. Hey, Ardell, you should comment over on the PI forum.
    That’s what any forum is about, at least I would hope. We welcome you there, and you have good things to say, so join in.

    As to this roof issue: Any seller who has an old roof, and prices “low” for the market may not really be “low”. Just because Kary thinks his seller priced well for a buyer to buy and replace the roof himself in a few years, doesn’t mean that the buyer or his inspector will agree. The only way you’d know if the property was priced under market is if you get multiple offers.

    So, buyer buys a house that seller says roof is 20 years old. Home inspector says roof maybe has 2 or 3, or even 4 years left, but recommends new roof.

    Sellers: Just solve the problem ahead of time: Pput on a new roof at closing, and market that great attribute. If the buyer doesn’t want a new roof, then deduct the bid from the ask price.

    If the roof isn’t negotiated, well, the clincher is, this is 2008, and the bank appraiser is likely to come along and say, “Hey, that roof looks old. Let’s call for a roof work order, put a new roof on at closing.”

    Lenders are really going to go back to basics and want those properties to be in good shape. Agents, get bids for a new roof, and talk to your sellers about installing it by closing. Advertise that as a positive, because it is a positive!

  49. Leanne,

    Totally agree, except for me wandering over to the PI :) But on the roof thing…I’m with you…splain it to Lucy…I mean Kary.

    I know I’m a pain in the butt and Dustin’s a saint for putting up with me. I play on Active Rain, but I respect the PI and Marlow Harris and many other more traditional types too much to rock their boat. Doesn’t seem right unless the come over here.

    I adore Debra Sinick. I take a peek over there from time to time, but honestly I have my hands full this time of year just keeping up with my own stuff.

    Are you by any chance going to Blogger’s Connect in San Francisco?

  50. Ardell wrote: “Key word there being “obviously

  51. Hi Ardell, I think forums are a good way for the real estate community to help buyers and sellers understand our market, so comments from anyone should always be welcomed. A ‘closed’ discussion isn’t much good to anyone :-)!

    I’m not going to the Blogger’s Connect, I’m not a conference/seminar go-er … I just hate ‘em! :-).

  52. Leanne wrote: “If the roof isn’t negotiated, well, the clincher is, this is 2008, and the bank appraiser is likely to come along and say, “Hey, that roof looks old. Let’s call for a roof work order, put a new roof on at closing.

  53. I agree Leanne. Seattle Bubble has “a forum”. We don’t. Does the PI have “a forum”?. This is a group blog. Slightly different than a forum.

    In a forum a topic is thrown out there by a forum moderator, like taking a poll. In a blog there is a post written by an author who manages the thread, so it doesn’t get hijacked and go sideways from the original post topic.

    Often I write a post about how I think it should be vs. how it is. So agents wanting it to stay as it is, and there are many, will draw the topic away from the point. That’s OK, except then I keep driving it back to the idea that it shouldn’t necessarily be as it is. That then appears to be “an argument”, especially to the person who is contradicting the stance of the post.

    If there is a political forum, all points of view would appear. On the blog of a democrat, you would expect to find more democrats then republicans. Otherwise it would be like someone in the crowd preaching Jesus at a synagogue.

    It’s a fine distinction of WEB 2.0. Clearly if a Republican commented on Democrat’s blog, they would expect a different reaction than on a Republican blog. Just using politics as an example.

    Blogs ARE also “a good way for the real estate community to help buyers and sellers understand our market” and comments from anyone are welcome. But they will be rebutted if the “teach” something contrary to the author’s point of view. Not deleted; but rebutted.

    I have learned from my clients that if I do not rebut a position in a comment, they assume I agree. They then might “learn” that they shouldn’t ask for a roof when that is contrary to my position. So it is important that when a counter opinion appears, that I reiterate my stance. Not doing so appears as if I agree and is the equivalent of providing erroneous info to my clients.

    Forums don’t work the same way as blogs, and this isn’t “a forum” as I’ve said many times to “the bubble people”.

  54. “But guess what–that doesn’t entitle the buyer to the cost of a new roof. That would overcompensate them, because when they were negotiating for the house in the first place, they were not negotiating for a house with a new roof.”

    Again Kary, it sounds like you are the agent for the Seller instead of agent for the Buyer. You have a seller slant. Do you do mostly listings? That would not be appropriate thinking if you represented the buyer in these negotiations.

  55. “Ardell, I really don’t understand you. We were on the same page up through post 17, and then you’ve completely backed away from what you said in post 17.”

    We both agree that buyers should not make up stuff to be wrong, for negotiating purposes. A roof is one of the most expensive things involved in the inspection. It needing replacement within 3 years is NOT made up stuff to me, but is to you.

    Used to be roof had to be actually leaking to be “at issue” in the inspection negotiations. No longer so. That is why I say you have an “old fashioned” stance, which surprises me since you have not been in the business long enough to have acquired “an old fashioned stance” and you are younger than I am :)

    To me Kary, it’s not about a roof or agreeing or disagreeing. It’s about being too seller oriented when you are representing a buyer. You stance is absolutely appropriate as agent for the seller. But your position should shift when you are the agent for the buyer.

    It’s my soapbox and pet peeve that the industry does not teach altered stance depending which side of the fence you are on.

    Writing an offer for a buyer the same way as you want to SEE it written when you represent the seller, is WAY too the norm in this busines…and wrong. It’s the way we did it when we all represented sellers.

    You know it’s true as there is rarely if ever a class on “how to write a contract when representing the buyer” vs. “how to review an offer when representing the seller”. There should be two schools of thought depending on whom you represent. Since NO ONE seems to teach that…how can it ever be so?

    The teaching is the same as when we all represented sellers. Companies teach things like “put 14 days in finance contingency” and don’t say put the shortest when you represent the seller, and the longest when you represent the buyer.

    Were you taught to make Earnest Money the LEAST when you represented the buyer and the MOST when you represented the seller? Who is teaching two methods of considering contracts depending on whom you represent?

    Your client needing to put on a roof in 3 years should mean some negotiation with seller paying 80% of wear and tear at worst. But you want to say the buyer should suck it up and inspection is for “broken”, when that is NOT the limit of a buyer’s rights by contract. Imposing a view beyond contractual language to the detriment of your client is not an option.

  56. Ardell wrote: “Again Kary, it sounds like you are the agent for the Seller instead of agent for the Buyer. You have a seller slant. Do you do mostly listings? That would not be appropriate thinking if you represented the buyer in these negotiations.”

    About half and half. But again, I can’t believe that representing a buyer you’d actually think they were entitled to the cost of a new roof in that situation (which is perhaps different than asking for it–realizing the ramifications of making an unreasonable proposal).

    In your next post you suggest that the seller should pay 80%. That’s backwards. If the buyer thought the roof needed to be replaced in 5 years, but it’s really sooner, the buyer should pay 80%. 5 years of a 25 year roof is 20%–that’s what the buyer isn’t getting if the roof needs to be replaced right away. The seller should arguably pay that 20% because the buyer won’t be getting that five years of life out of the roof.

    This isn’t about whether you represent the buyer or seller, it’s simple math and having some sort of good faith standard to your negotiations.

    Finally, the entire issue can be addressed early to avoid issues. For example, in the process of negotiating our own house the seller mentioned the roof. And I let him know what I expected of it (the inspector saying at least 5 years life without major repairs). I’ll typically do that same thing when representing a seller if the price is heavily negotiated.

  57. Ardell wrote: “Writing an offer for a buyer the same way as you want to SEE it written when you represent the seller, is WAY too the norm in this busines…and wrong.”

    Again I really don’t understand your thinking here, especially with the examples you gave (time limits and earnest money).

    When you represent the buyer you want to make your offer as attractive as possible to the seller. For non-monetary items that’s easy to do (shortening review periods, etc.). There is ZERO reason why a buyer would want to lengthen those periods if there wasn’t a legitimate reason to do so (e.g. their inspector is out of town, or they’re going to be out of town, etc.) There is not any reason for there to be a conflict between buyers and sellers on such items.

    Even earnest money arguably could be higher without harming the buyer if they have the funds to do that. Yes there is some risk of losing the earnest money in the event of a breach, but the point of earnest money is to show the seller you’re serious. Why would a buyer not want to show a seller they are serious? I’ve seen some offers come in with six figure earnest money numbers. I think that’s extreme (especially if it’s over the amount that could be retained as liquidated damages), but it does show the seller you’re serious.

    Obviously that doesn’t carry over to price, or other monetary items. But those weren’t the examples you gave.

  58. “This isn’t about whether you represent the buyer or seller, it’s simple math and having some sort of good faith standard to your negotiations.”

    Why wouldn’t the seller pay for HIS wear and tear at 80?. If nothing else Kary, you and I being at odds clearly points out there is not only one way to look at it, and you should “err” on the side of your client’s favor, not the other agent’s client’s favor.

  59. Because the buyer was going to have to pay for a new roof in a few years anyway. The only thing they’re not getting is the remaining 20% of the wear they expected, so it would be fair for the seller to pay for that to put them back into their expected position. Anything more would be a windfall for the buyer.

    Let’s say the same buyer was buying two houses. One they thought they’d have to replace the roof in a year, and the other property 5 years. Under your way of thinking, if both roofs turned out to need replacement immediately, the buyer would ask for more on the roof they thought they were going to replace virtually right away anyway. That doesn’t make any sense at all. They should ask for almost nothing on that one.

    There is only one correct way of looking at that calculation, and if you can’t see it the correct way then the seller is probably going to think much less of your buyer client, and that is not going to serve your client’s interest at all.

  60. BTW, the seller already did pay for his 80% wear and tear–when he bought the roof that is failing.

  61. You keep going back to the seller, Kary. If you can’t see that, I’m sure the readers can. Not appropriate as the buyer’s agent to keep leaning everything in the seller’s favor as you are.

    It’s common for sure…but it is also why I try to educate agents that the ONLY RIGHT WAY to look at it is from YOUR CLIENT’s SIDE. It is also why Marc and Craig as attorneys see “negligence” suit possibilities when they see agents approaching things from other than their own client’s perspective.

    If it were a condo you WOULD expect the previous owner to pay for the years of wear and tear, right??? So why not the same for a house?

    You are dead wrong on this one…and yet not any more or less wrong than most agents who haven’t recognized that representing the buyer is more than telling the buyer what the seller “wants” or the seller “expects” or the seller…anything.

    Try this: When representing the buyer NEVER say the word seller, even to yourself.

  62. Kary,

    That’s like saying he already put in a NEW kitchen…in 1975.

  63. Kary said: “…if you can’t see it the correct way then the seller is probably going to think much less of your buyer client, and that is not going to serve your client’s interest at all.”

    Depends how many buyers are in the room, how long the property has been on market, how badly the buyer wants it and how close to real the seller is as to asking price. Depends on lots of things, not the least of which is the way you are thinking made sense when most sellers could expect multiple offers in the first week.

    Pretending the market hasn’t changed will hurt your buyer clients. It may “feel” better to you to pretend the market hasn’t changed, but it hurts your buyer clients to think it hasn’t changed.

    It’s like in CA when they still say “all seller services” in a buyer’s market. Or still let the seller do his own pest inspection in a buyer’s market. Carrying seller’s market thinking and practices into a buyer’s market is just plain wrong.

  64. Ardell, you’re the one who is wrong here, and I suspect the readers can see that. You’re making zero sense. Why would you not want your offer to be attractive to the seller, especially if doing so doesn’t cost your seller any money in the end?

    If two offers come in on a property, and the seller selects the other one because you took the approach that you represented the buyer and the inspection period should be 15 days and the earnest money $2,000, how have you served your client’s interest? You haven’t. You cost them a decent shot at the house they wanted to buy.

    The exisxting wear and tear should already be reflected in the price. If it isn’t, then the buyer’s agent wasn’t doing their job.

  65. Ardell wrote: “That’s like saying he already put in a NEW kitchen…in 1975.”

    Huh? That’s the example I should have given. You thinking on the roof is like a buyer after an inspection asking for a kitchen remodel because it’s a 1975 kitchen. How can you possibly be thinking that way?

  66. Ardell wrote: Depends how many buyers are in the room, how long the property has been on market, how badly the buyer wants it and how close to real the seller is as to asking price. Depends on lots of things, not the least of which is the way you are thinking made sense when most sellers could expect multiple offers in the first week.”

    Ardell, if you TRY to take advantage of someone after coming to terms on them on price, they WILL take advantage of you every chance they get moving forward. You’d better dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” if you take that approach.

  67. Kary,

    In the first round you have to be most attractive in multiple offer. If you reduce your offer by cost of new roof, and NO ONE ELSE DOES, and someone else has NO INSPECTION CONTINGENCY, your client loses.

    You can be right all you want over on the PI blog and I will not come and contradict you. But on this issue and in this place, you are dead wrong anyway you slice it IF you are the agent for the buyer vs. agent for the seller.

  68. Kary,

    Exercising your contractual rights under the full contract, including the Inspection Contingency is NOT taking advantage of the seller. It is proceeding “in good faith” and “in due course”.

  69. Kary,

    Two houses. Same asking price. Same model. Same neighborhood. Both say “remodeled kitchen”. Both sellers want the cost of kitchen. One is remodeled in 2006 the other in 1982. THAT’s how I can “think that way”, and if you haven’t seen that scenario, you don’t get out enough.

  70. “The existing wear and tear should already be reflected in the price. If it isn’t, then the buyer’s agent wasn’t doing their job.”

    Uh…doesn’t that = the SELLER’S agent wasn’t doing their job? Actually at 20 years old and a 20 year shingle…the cost of new roof should be a credit offered by the seller at time of listing, IF the seller can’t afford a new one.

    The buyer shouldn’t have to guess, nor should he have to know as much about roofs as you and I do…or don’t.

  71. While you guys are debating the subject, let me just add this. I only work with sellers and try to get them to have the home pre-inspected prior to putting it on the market. Otherwise they should anticipate renegotiating after the buyer’s home inspection. I’m getting better at convincing sellers it is a good idea. Buyers can obviously do their own inspection but it eliminates most of the surprises.

    If this was mentioned in one of the previous 70 comments, please forgive the echo. Good debate!

  72. Ardell wrote: “You can be right all you want over on the PI blog and I will not come and contradict you. But on this issue and in this place, you are dead wrong anyway you slice it IF you are the agent for the buyer vs. agent for the seller.”

    You’re free to come contradict me over in P-I land. But here you’re actually thinking more like an attorney litigator that goes to court a lot because they don’t settle many cases. Their advice keeps the parties from coming together.

    Sellers have to do things that are attractive to buyers, and buyers have to do things that are attractive to sellers. That’s how deals get done. If one side is saying “I’m the seller so this period must be short” and one is saying “I’m the buyer so this period must be long” then probably neither party is going to get what they want–the sale and purchase of the house.

  73. Sorry, Ardell, just reading through this with wide eyes, but I don’t get your stance.

    I mean I understand representing the buyer, but if I’m buying an old house I don’t expect the roof to be new or the water heater to be new. I expect them to work and I expect the inspector to tell me how long they will probably last me.

    I understanding asking for compensation if things are very near failure and I think the current market favors more of that. But I bought my place 16 months ago as the backup offer person because the first buyer wanted all new windows. I’m just NOW replacing ONE piece of glass. The sellers told the first-in-line buyer to shove it. Good for me, and I got a fair price despite the age of some things.

    As a seller, I would base the price of my place including age. You assume the price is based on perfect condition.

  74. Rich,

    You have to go back to comment #23 to find the “bone of contention”.

    From Kary: “I’m saying it’s not ethical for a buyer to request a 20 year roof be replaced if it was obvious the roof was not in good shape and that should have been accounted for in their original offer price.”

    You said: “…if things are very near failure”

    My point is a 20 year shingle that is 20 years old is at it’s life expectancy and thus “very near failure”.

    Kary’s point was that the buyer should have seen that without the help of a home inspector, on so should not be able to make a request based on the inspection.

    Just clarifying that the item we are discussing IS “very near failure”.

  75. Also, the kitchen analogy is ridiculous. To a buyer, kitchen condition is often about style, not function. A 1990 stove could last for decades. I’d remodel aging rooms, but I wouldn’t expect the seller to give me money for a stainless steel fridge.

  76. Ardell, you are a true blogger. Commenting at midnight!

  77. I can’t find the kitchen analogy. My point was that a seller couldn’t recoup the cost of a kitchen as in “added value” if the kitchen was put in 20 or 30 years ago. It had to do with pricing and value, not home inspections.

  78. I admit, if the inspector told me the roof had three or four more years in it, I’d be a nervous buyer. That’s a tricky negotiation.

  79. Rich,

    I think it comes down to whether someone would patch a leak on a 23 year old roof, or say “it’s time for a new roof”. Keeping it from leaking is or was the crieria for inspections for many years. Patch the leak. Now I do not think many people would patch a roof that was at the end of it’s life expectancy and leaking.

  80. The bone of contention was whether the buyer was entitled to 100% or 80% of the cost of the roof, after having negotiated the price with the old obviously sad roof, or 20% as I claimed. (see posts 56, 57 and 59) I never said the inspection was irrelevant–the discussion was over what’s fair to ask for when the inspection comes back.

    The other bone of contention was whether or not a buyer should care at all about a seller once they’re under contract (and visa versa).

    It had nothing to do with whether the roof should be patched or replaced. I don’t even know where that came from.

  81. Kary,

    “that” came from Rich’s comment. But you and I were on opposite sides of an 80/20. If the roof is 80% worn out, then I would expect the seller to pay for that 80%. You seemed to think the exact opposite for some reason.

    Here’s where I get my perspective.

    1) In court if you destroy someones property, the plaintiff is limited to the value of the item at the time. So the buyer gets a roof with 20% life on it. The seller shouldn’t have to give him 20% of the value, as that IS its value at time of inspection. To get “a roof” with the house the buyer gets 80% from the seller in monetary compensation plus the 20% left on the roof equals 100%. House then comes with a roof on it.

    2) Everything else is pro-rated. Taxes for the year as example: Seller pays for the time he lived in the house, buyer pays for the time he lives in it. So Seller should pay for the cost of the new roof only to the extent prior to the buyer owning it. If there it is a 20 year shingle with 18 years wear, then the buyer has the remaining two and pays for the remaining two and the seller pays for the 18 years of use.

    I don’t know how you flipped that to seller paying for the 20% or 2 years left on it.

    The answer at time of offer to “what about the roof”? is looks old, but let’s see what the inspector has to say about it. Not looks old so exclude it from the inspection negoitiations entirely.

  82. What you’re missing is that the condition of the roof should have been taken into account in the price agreed to.

    Assume someone agrees to pay $400,000 on a house, thinking the roof has 5 more years, and that it will cost them $10,000 to replace the roof with a 25 year roof. Thus they’re planning on paying $410,000, and having a roof that will last a total of 30 years (5 on the old, 25 on the new). But the inspection (or lender) comes back and says the roof will need to be replaced.

    Under your system the buyer would only have to pay $402,000 ($400,000 + 20% of $10,000) to have a roof that would last 25 years. That would be a windfall to them, because they’d be getting something for $2,000 they expected to pay $10,000 for. Under my system they’d have to pay $408,000. That would be a fair proposal for both parties, because the roof depreciates at $400 a year, and the seller would be compensating the buyer for the 5 years of life they expected, but didn’t get.

  83. Ardell wrote: “The answer at time of offer to “what about the roof

  84. Kary,

    You can’t be right on this until and unless there is a disclosure up front that says “obvious items are excluded from the home inspection; so please take special note of the obvious, and take those into account in your offer.”

    You say: “What you’re missing (ARDELL) is that the condition of the roof should have been taken into account in the price agreed to.” You are stating your opinion, which I feel is to your buyer client’s disadvantage, as it is not the required course of action under the purchase and sale agreement.

    The purchase and sale agreement comes to price and terms without regard to repairs. The repair negotiation is set aside to within x days of contract, usually 5-10 days, when due diligence and discovery are applied.

    In a hot market you have to win the bid, to get the opportunity to discuss the house. Often you have not had time to inspect it thoroughly. In a slower market, people are applying more of their due diligence prior to offer.

    When and how repair items or deferred maintenance items are addressed is determined by the written contract between the parties. The contract provides for that to be within the inspection timeframe.

    For you to impose a standard that is contrary to the written agreement is not appropriate. If you want to add into YOUR contracts “ONLY latent defects will be entertained at time of inspection negotiation, so due your due diligence in advance of offer.” Then you can be correct. Until then, you are not.

    OR, you can require that all buyers do a pre-inspection prior to offer and exclude the inspection contingency in its entirety. That’s another way to go. But to have an inspection phase, and then arbitrarily apply a standard not obvious by disclosure, or in writing by contract, is just plain…incorrect.

    You can write a counter post on the PI and be absolutely correct on this :) I won’t come over there and correct you. But here, on my post in RCG…you just can win when we obviously don’t agree. We can reach the point of agreeing to disagree when you have your final word on this over on the PI. For this post, the final word is that an agent DOES NOT GET TO IMPOSE their personal beliefs regarding the darned roof absent language in the contract to support that belief.

  85. Ardell wrote: “You can’t be right on this until and unless there is a disclosure up front that says “obvious items are excluded from the home inspection; so please take special note of the obvious, and take those into account in your offer.

  86. racksie says:

    Hello. Inspection for a home I am in the process of purchasing just completed. exterior holes caused by caprenter bees, no cap on gas line on water heater, mold in basement, no grounding wire on hot water heater and exposed electrical wiring without caps. Requesting items be remedied. Seller previously stated no repairs or credits. Are they obligated legally to make the electrical and hot water heater repairs?

    • No legal obligation. It depends where the seller stated “as is”, and what you signed. You need an agent or an attorney to help you respond that can see the documents you signed. “remedy please” is not a sufficient response for mold issues.

  87. Ardell -
    I recently signed a purchase contract to buy a single family house. The property is 14 years old. The price I offered was under the assumption that the roof would last 20 years. The roofing inspector gave it a life of 3 more years instead of 6 years that I hoped for. The inspection found a couple of roof leaks and a few other minor things for which the total estimated repair cost is ~$1500.

    Based on my contract clause, I can technically back out of the contract if the repair cost exceeded $1000. So I definitely plan to ask the seller to at least fix the things that are mentioned in my inspection report. My question is, other than the above repairs, is it fair to ask the seller to reduce the price due to the roof’s life expectancy being lower than my expectations. If I were to go ahead with this, I plan to ask the seller to reduce the price by 25% of the cost of the new roof (~$5000)

    I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.

    Thanks
    Brian

  88. I am sorry if I didn’t make this clear. The cost of the new roof is around $20,000 and I plan to ask the seller a concession of $5000 (25% of $20,000). Is this reasonable ?

  89. Brian,

    Since I don’t know all of the particulars, I can only give you a list of my “reactions” to what you have said.

    1) $20,000 seems like an awful lot of money for a new roof. I don’t know where you are or what kind of house it is. Here that kind of cost might be for a very steep tudor, especially a slate one, which would be more than $20,000. The average composite shingle roof is usually between $7,500 and $12,000. Sometimes less and sometimes more. Less for a simple pitched roof on a small house and more for a complicated hip roof with multiple transitions and valleys.

    2) Customarily a roof is either good or it isn’t. A seller paying a % of roof cost is unusual, but I am hearing that logic from buyers more recently than ever before in the past, so it may be a new way to look at roof issues. Seems reasonable. Just not “customary” in hindsight.

    3) A 14 year old house does not often have roof issues. usually it’s more like 17 years or older.

    4) Homes built 14 years ago usually have at least a 25 year shingle since 20 year shingle roofs generally went out of style more than 14 years ago.

    5) $1,500 worth of repairs are usually about the flashings and gutters and than the the actual roof. Seems a bit odd to me. It might help if the inspector answered why a 14 year old roof was aging so poorly and earlier than expectated. If I were the agent for the seller, I would want to know why the roof was experiencing such difficulty in only 14 years, and why there are “leaks” without the seller knowing about them. In other words is the inspector being overly conservative in CYA fashion? I would at minimum want a roofers opinion on top of the inspector’s opinion. How will you feel if the roof doesn’t need to be replaced for 6 or more years if you get that $5,000 now?

    6) I think there is some validity in a buyer thinking $12,000 for a roof, seller should pay 14 years of wear and tear…but home sales don”t work that way. Condo owners do pay for their years of wear and tear into reserves…or are supposed to. But single family home exchanges generally don’t work that way.

    7) If there were 5 offers on the house and 4 other buyers are hoping you will ask for something so they can take the house “as-is” or if there is a buyer in backup contract, or if the house was on the market 2 days vs. 342 days. All of these things would make a difference in what is reasonable and what is not reasonable. So I don’t have enough particulars.

    Bottom line is a 14 year old house should not need a $20,000 roof in the very near future. Sometimes a black roof in a very sunny location will wear out early like that. But it’s not an everyday occurrence. If the roof is leaking at the chimney due to flashing issues, that would not be unusual. Where is the roof leaking and why did it age abnormally would be my questions.

  90. Ardell-Thanks for the detailed response.

    Here are some more details about the house:-

    This is a 2 story property in South Florida with a living area of about 2500 sq.ft. I think property was on the market for 3-4 months and I don’t think they have any other offers competing with mine.

    The inspection was done by the roofer who accompanied the inspector. I spoke to the roofer again to get an estimate for a new roof and it’s around $17,000 and not $20,000 I had estimated.

    According to the roofer the life expectancy of a nailed down roof like this is 17 years. He’s not saying that it needs to be replaced in another 3 years, but in his report, he wouldn’t give more than 3 years as the life expectancy. Maybe he is being conservative-I am not sure about it. The 2 active leaks were found in the garage area. Other than his recommendation to fix the leaks, he didn’t have anything negative to say about the roof. The roof has no history of repairs-Not sure if this good or a bad thing.

    Out of the $1500 repair estimate, roofing repairs accounted for $900- the remaining amount ($600) was for other minor things in the house unrelated to the roof.

    I agree with you that a 14 year old house shouldn’t need a new roof in the near future. That’s the reason I was perplexed when the roofer gave it only 3 more years and made me think about asking the seller for some kind of concession.

    Once again, I really appreciate your comments. Thanks for your time.

  91. Brian,

    Thanks for elaborating. Color of roof would have been a bit helpful as well. I lived and worked in Florida for a short time back in the mid 90s (Longwood/Lake Mary in the Orlando Area) and black composite shingle roofs just don’t belong in Florida :)

    I’m picturing a Pulte built 2 story home in my head and $17,000 still seems a bit steep, as work in Florida is often cheaper than in other areas of the Country. If it were a 2,500 sf one story home that number would make more sense, since a 2,500 sf two story home has a roof print similar to a 1,200 sf home, give or take. I’m wondering if that $17,000 roof is truly a “like-kind” replacement or an over-the-top future estimate with lots of bells and whistles that the current roof does not have.

    A strong consideration today vs most days is that you may be one of the people eligible for an $8,000 credit or a $6,500 credit today vs buying a different house next week or next month. That credit will go a long way toward that new roof, and a different house may also need a new roof at some point during your ownership of the house. Something to consider before you let this fall apart on inspection. It’s “$8,000 Friday”…an article I will be writing in a few minutes.

    Bottom line is it sounds to me like $900 of roof maintenance repairs, does not equal $5,000 toward a new roof. I still don’t know the nature of that $900 and how much is really for roof related repairs? What that $900 is being spent on is still a question for me. If it is all flashing and gutter and vent seal issues, that is not an indication that the roof is wearing abnormally. In hot climates, flashings and vent sealants and possible shingle lifting causing the need for re-nailing (as opposed to actual shingles worn out and needing to be replaced) is a more common maintenance vs “defect” issue”.

    The fine line between “deferred maintenance” and “roof defect” is still an unknown. But I’m leaning toward $5,000 not being reasonable from what you have said so far. Not saying you shouldn’t ask for it. But if they say no, do you throw away the tax credit? I don’t think so.

  92. Ok after reading everything on this page i have a similar situation to the topics that have been posted, Im a first time homebuyer and will be going to closing on May 28th, the house was built in 1986 the inspector came and said that roof cover appears to be the original to structure & is beyond its intended design life,some minor cracking was observed in a few locations but otherwise cover appears to be in generally good condition for its age & may have some life remaining-however aging asphalt shingles of this age can gegin cracking on a wide scale with little warning & he recommended havig further evaluation performed by a livensed HUD certified roofer & obtaining a 3 yer HUD roof Certification prior to closing(in the inspectors report it was rated as poor)Besides the roof the cooling system is also aging and has problems cooling off one of the rooms because i believe it was an attic at one point so thats also a concern but i think my main thing is with the roof The seller is also paying $6,000 in closing costs,and it’s been appraised for $7,000 more than what we paid, what I wanna now is are we in right to negotiate some money off of the asking price???Thanks confused first time homebuyer

  93. JJ,

    Timely question, as I spent half the morning on the phone with a roofer :) In my case the lender has required a new roof prior to closing. That does not mean the seller has to pay for the roof. It means the roof has to get on the house, but can be paid by the seller or by the buyer or by whomever. Who pays for it is not determined by the fact that it needs one in order to close.

    In your case, you said: “he recommended havig further evaluation performed by a livensed HUD certified roofer & obtaining a 3 yer HUD roof Certification prior to closing.” It doesn’t appear that you have yet determined whether or not the roof can be certified for a long enough period to cover any lender concerns.

    There are two issues here:

    As to the home inspection, you likely have the right to cancel, but not the right to require that the seller pay for anything. I don’t think you are Seattle-local, as you say you are closing on May 28th and King County is closed on May 28th. So I can not guess what is in your home inspection or finance contingencies in an out of area contract.

    The second issue is will the lender require a new roof prior to closing? If you have an FHA loan and the roof indeed needs to be replaced and cannot be certified for 3 years as recommended, then you may need a new roof even if you do not ask for one as part of the home inspection negotiation. The lender requiring a new roof is a stronger basis, unless your contract stipulated “as-is” as ours did because it is a bank-owned property.

    You further state: ” The seller is also paying $6,000 in closing costs, and it’s been appraised for $7,000 more than what we paid, what I wanna now is are we in right to negotiate some money off of the asking price???”

    hmmm…let me put a number on that. Let’s say the house appraised for $307,000. The seller is getting $300,000 less $6,000 toward closing costs, or $294,000 to the seller. You are getting a house worth $307,000 with the current roof for $294,000 and you want money off because it needs a roof? Seems like you are $13,000 ahead without a new roof. Are you asking if you can increase the price by the $7,000 it “over appraised” and have the new roof included in that expanded price? Likely yes. But that would be you paying for that new roof by increasing the price to the appraised value, not “the seller paying for it”.

    Generally you can ask for whatever you want as part of the inspection. There is no obligation for the seller to agree to pay for any repairs, but most inspection contingencies allow you to ask. You ask; seller answers. It seems at present, the seller is getting $13,000 LESS than the home is worth, based on your appraisal and the monies the seller is paying for your closing costs. Likely the seller doesn’t know what it appraised for as the appraisal is done by the buyer’s lender. If the seller knows you are getting the house for $13,000 less than appraised value, it’s not likely he will make additional concessions unless they are more than that amount.

    If you ask for the price to be increased to include the cost of the new roof, and the new roof to be on prior to closing, that sounds very reasonable and doable if you have the time to get the roof on and the seller is willing to put up with the noise and inconvenience of the work being done while he is still living in the house.

    Seems to me the house having a new roof is more important than your getting some money off the asking price, and a more valid remedy to the immediate concern.

  94. My drain pan under one of my attic ac/heater unit (central) is rusty from an old condensation line leak. Drain pan works, it doesn’t leak! The buyer wants the pan replaced. What would be the right thing to do? My ac man said everything was fine!

    • Kevin,

      Home Inspection negotiations are not always or even often about who is right and who is wrong. Every buyer is different, and I would say MOST buyers would view “rusty” as a defect, especially if their home inspector told them so.

      The answer is not about your ac guy’s opinion against the inspector or buyer’s opinion. The question is do you want to lose the sale over your right to sell your house with a rusty major system component? If that “old condensation line leak” is from that same ac/furnace, you should be happy they are only asking for a new pan.

      Systems in the attic can cause way more damage than systems in a garage. If the system previously leaked and is now over 15 years old, most buyers would be asking for a new ac/heater and not just a new pan.

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