One of the most asked questions I get at a home inspection when I find an item in need of repair is “does the seller have to pay for that?”
In most cases, the answer is “no.”
“So then, who pays to repair that?”
The answer is almost always, “that’s negotiable, ask your real estate agent.”
The few exceptions
There a few things a seller is required by law to pay for in California. A seller has to have smoke detectors in every bedroom, and hallways leading to bedrooms, as well as at least one on every floor. The seller has to have a carbon monoxide detector in the vicinity of the bedrooms, and at least one per floor. A seller is required to have seismic (earthquake) straps on the water heater (but there are no requirements the water heater works).
In a very few jurisdictions, such as the City of Los Angeles (not to be confused with the County of Los Angeles), the seller has to have a seismic (earthquake) shut off valve on the gas meter. Though this is NOT required in most other cities in Los Angeles or Ventura County.
Other repairs are not required. Even if they are serious issues.
So what happens next?
This is actually a question you should ask your real estate agent. But there are typically four things that a buyer can do
- Do nothing, and accept the house “as is”.
- Do nothing, and cancel escrow
- Ask the seller to make repairs (not recommend, more on that below).
- Ask the seller for either credit or a reduced price to offset the cost of the repairs,(which is why having a real estate agent is important).
The seller then can respond in one of three ways
- Agree to your new terms.
- Agree to some of your new terms.
- Say no, and tell you to either buy it “as is” or go away.
Keep in mind, which strategy is best can vary depending on circumstances. For example, a house that is being sold as a fixer-upper at a low price has likely taken into account that there will be issues in the home. Asking for a reduced price on a house that is already reduced may not be realistic. Again, ask your real estate agent for advice.
Why asking for repairs is often not a good idea
Asking the seller to make repairs usually only makes sense when it is a brand new house and the seller is the builder. Otherwise, keep in mind, items that need repair are usually because the seller either repaired/installed the item wrong or is due to the seller not maintaining said item. Asking the person who did something wrong to redo it again often does not work.
Many home inspectors dislike doing re-inspections of repaired items because experience has shown when asking the seller to make repairs usually results in
- Only some of the repairs being done.
- The repairs are done poorly.
- Agreed upon repairs are done without fixing the underlying issue (for example, repairing a defective electrical outlet but not repairing a defective electric panel).
At the end of the day, ask your real estate agent
Because every home, every report, and every buyer’s situation is different, what is the right approach should be discussed with your real estate agent. Some buyers want a home with a lot of issues so they can put their own stamp on it, while other buyers want a home that is close to as move-in ready as possible. What is a serious issue to one buyer may be a small issue to someone else. The home inspection is an objective view to assist in the evaluation of the overall condition of the dwelling, but it can not force anyone to make repairs.
Book your home inspection now by calling 818-298-3405