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Major Corrective Work

We strongly recommend that you and the sellers' agent be present, if possible, during property inspections, so that you both actually see the damage. Give the sellers copies of the reports for them to review before you meet with them to negotiate a corrective work credit. This is the moment of truth in most home sales. Sellers usually don't want to pay for the corrective work. Neither do you. The deal will fall through if this impasse can't be resolved.

  • The sellers may refuse to pay for repairs found by inspectors that you have hired. The sellers may question the impartiality or validity of your inspection reports and order their own inspections to verify or refute yours.
  • Sellers who try to punish the messenger are usually making a big mistake. If they drive you away, they may still have a legal obligation to tell other buyers what you've discovered. That disclosure will probably lower the price that any future buyer will pay for their house.
  • Lenders also participate in corrective work problems. They get copies of inspection reports when borrowers tell them that a serious repair problem exists, when their appraisal indicates a property obviously needs major repairs, or when the purchase contract contains a credit for extensive repairs.

You can solve repair problems in a variety of ways:

  • The sellers may give a credit for corrective work directly to buyers at the closing. Lenders usually don't approve of this approach, because it raises uncertainties about whether the corrective work will actually be completed. If it isn't, the security of the lender's loan is impaired.
  • You can make the sellers feel better by offering to get competitive bids on the work from several reputable, licensed contractors. This additional effort on your part shows the sellers that you don't want to get rich off their misfortune. All you want is what you thought you were buying in the first place -- a well-maintained home with a good foundation and a roof that doesn't leak.