Requesting Repairs from the Seller

Request for Repairs | Must Know Information for the Home Buyer and Home Seller

During the process of purchasing a home the home buyer will have a physical inspection of the home and property, and then make a Request for Repairs to the home seller.  In this article I wrote about the benefits of doing a good home inspection I pointed out that this inspection can benefit both the buyer and seller, and that understanding how to use the Request for Repairs work to your advantage is simply a matter of understanding the way the home inspection is intended to work.

California Purchase Agreement – Request for Repairs (Buyer requesting repairs from Seller)

  • Request for RepairsAbove is the current standard form used by Realtors representing a home buyer.  Let’s first review how the form is filled out, and why, and then discuss how both the home buyer and home seller can benefit by understanding how this form is generally used to help negotiate one of the most important parts of a home purchase.

 The Request for Repairs

  • The top of the Request for Repairs is used to describe the purchase contract and property address, as well as who the buyer and seller are.
  • Section 1 is the BUYER’S REQUEST section.  In this section the buyer will provide a list of the repairs he/she wants the seller to make.  The buyer may also (Section 1(A)2, ask for money in lieu of the repairs.
  • In Section 1(B) the Buyer provides the Seller with the inspection report and any other documents they feel would be helpful in having the seller understand what repairs are needed, and why..
  • In Section 2 the Seller (after having reviewed the Request for Repairs by the Buyer) responds with either an acceptance of the Buyer’s requests, a partial acceptance, a modification of the cash they are willing to pay, or a rejection of the Buyer’s request.
  • In Section 3 (if the Seller has countered the Buyer’s request), the buyer has a last opportunity to agree or disagree with the seller.

Time frames for the Request for Repairs

Once the purchase agreement is signed by both the home seller and the home buyer, the “clock” begins to run on various time frames.  During the course of a typical real estate purchase agreement the buyer will typically have a certain number of days to get loan approvals, examine HOA documents and disclosures, and of course to do inspections of the property.  In California the time frame under which the buyer generally operates is 17 days.  That is, from the time the purchase agreement is signed until the seller wants the buyer to move forward (remove contingencies), is generally 17 days.  (Note:  If the seller is a bank – REO sale – then the time frame often is reduced to 10 days to remove the inspection contingencies.)

What Requests for Repairs Are Reasonable?  {For the Buyer}

Reasonable Request for Repairs

That’s right.  They key word here is REASONABLE.  Let’s start with some basics, any of which you are free to disagree with by the way.  Remember, these are my ideas, based on my experience with sellers and buyers, and not necessarily yours if you’re sitting in the home buyer’s seat.

Homes have problems.  All of them.  Even brand new homes have issues.  While they may not have cracked slabs or rotting decks, most will have flaws in some part of the home.  If you’re buying a resale home, which most of us do, then the problems are going to be a lot more extensive.  But the question is, what’s a problem?  Or more specifically, what problems are reasonable for you to ask the seller to repair?

In my experience the buyer gains in this transaction by walking in the shoes of the seller, perhaps more than in any other area of the purchase.  Do you have some rooms painted 10 years ago?  Are your wood floors scratched in some places by your dogs?  Are your bathrooms outdated?  Well…..perhaps they are, and you’re still quite happy to live with those small issues in your daily life.  These, my friends, are not usually items that you’re going to ask the seller to repair.  You saw the home, and when you made your offer you factored in the fact that the floor might have to be replaced, or the sinks changed out.  You probably want to repaint, and you’re most certainly going to want to redecorate.  So just because the inspector noted that there were scratches or tears, or perhaps some molding pulled away, you’re not going to win any points by trying to point them out to the seller.

Instead, focus on real issues…issues that your home inspection uncovered that will make living in your new home either unsafe or unhealthy.  That’s where your power lies, and where you can maximize the request for repairs to your benefit.  Here are some examples:

  • You uncover a leak, or apparent damage from a leak, and the seller did not disclose that to you.  No one likes the word mold, and although in my experience mold is found in very few inspections, unrepaired water damage can be a danger should mold develop, and this is an area where the seller will almost always cooperate.
  • You find that electrical wiring has been run in a manner that’s not to code.  Again, this is a safety issue, and the seller should cooperate to repair.
  • You see that the decking is damaged from either water or perhaps termites.  I’ll give you a primer on termites in another article, but usually damage that may result in falls or other safety issues will need to be repaired by the seller.  (Banks often want you to buy “as-is”, so if they refuse to make these repairs make sure you consult with your Realtor and other repair specialists to discover the true cost of making those repairs.
  • The home has no Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) plugs.  These protect you and your family from shock and other electrical damage including the potential for fire, and should always be addressed and repaired or paid for by the seller.

So what about all the other repairs you see that need done?  My suggestion is that you be “reasonable.”  If you really want something done, ask.  But if you understand that the issue is normal “wear and tear” then temper your request so that you get the seller on your side.  If there are a lot of issues that you uncovered during your inspection, perhaps asking the seller to compromise by paying you at close of escrow, and you’ll do the repairs yourself.

What Requests for Repairs Are Reasonable?  {For the Seller}

“It’s the economy, stupid.”  Yep, like all things that are obvious, agreeing to pay for repairs for the buyer is mostly about two things; money and pride.

Your Realtor should have discussed the Request for Repairs with your at the time you listed your home.  No matter how nice your home is the chances are that some maintenance is overdo.  Think of this as simply one of the factors in pricing your home for sale.  If you do a good inventory of the state of your home before you begin marketing it, then when the buyer requests repairs you’ll be prepared for most of his or her objections.

Next, and just as important as factoring in the cost, is your pride.  This isn’t just a house you’re selling, is it?  No, it’s your home, the place you lived in, painted, decorated, maintained, improved and loved.  An inspection and request for repairs can seem like a slap in the face if you’re emotional about the above.  Don’t be.  Again, try to remember how you felt when you purchased your home.  Walk in the buyer’s shoes.  Be reasonable.


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