The Value of the Home Inspection in the Real Estate Transaction

One of the most critical pieces of buying a home is the home inspection. Hiring an independent inspector allows a buyer the opportunity to evaluate potential defects and deferred maintenance items in the home that they are purchasing. I have never encountered a home that does not have some issues, even new construction, so an objective inspection can surface those issues and help you negotiate with the seller for potential resolution. However, the inspection negotiation can be a trying and difficult negotiation, often more complex and heated that the initial negotiation about purchase price.

Many buyers, especially first-time homebuyers, expect perfection in the home they are buying. They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and don’t want to have to deal with home repairs. The natural reaction to an inspection report is to make a list of all issues that were found and then demand that the seller fix them or monetarily compensate for the fixes. Depending on the home and the seller, this may or may not be the right approach to a successful inspection negotiation.

You can often achieve perfection with new construction, as builders will allow you to make a punch list and often have warranties that cover the home for a limited period of time. But for an existing home, you need to come up with a strategy that addresses your major concerns, yet gives you the greatest chance of negotiation success with the seller. Every home has issues. Some of them require immediate attention, but some of them are ongoing maintenance items. You need to evaluate the price you are paying for the home, the age of the home, and the severity of the issues that were found and come up with the best strategy for a successful negotiation. Sellers of older homes often won’t fix everything, particularly if you negotiated a large discount on their price.

Try not to forget the big picture when you purchase a home. An inspection is a crucial piece of due diligence to protect yourself, but take a practical approach to your inspection negotiations. It’s too easy to get hung up on small issues or the emotionally-charged negotiations. If it is a good house at a good price, and you are not being asked to take on excessive risk, it may still be worthwhile to purchase the home. Working with a Boston real estate agent and a qualified home inspector can help you through this process.

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