My company provides business services in California, but we are also members of the economic development committee for our city. Part of attracting new business includes insuring the business owners have a pleasant experience when they purchase homes for their families and relocate. Let’s face it; most home buyers are not experts when it comes to home construction and repairs. How would you even begin to know which defects are serious in a property you are considering purchasing let alone determining what may be the seller’s responsibility to repair?
It’s advisable not to close escrow until the following issues have been dealt with satisfactorily:
- Problems that would affect your health or safety
- A leaky roof in bad decay
- A malfunctioning furnace or A/C system
- Cracks and other failures with the foundation
Start by hiring a home inspector to look at the house construction, the exterior finish and landscaping, the plumbing system and components, the attic and roof, the electrical, the permanent appliances and the garage. As a buyer, you have the right to submit a formal request for repair and make your purchase contingent upon the repairs. But don’t take the seller’s word they will give you “service with a smile.”
A spokesperson from California firm, OpenOffer, which provides home buyer and seller support, gave us some great advice to share with home buyers who are in the negotiation process for purchasing a home. “Before the buyer issues a request for repairs, they should consider having their own contractors provide an estimate for the repairs. Once they have a clear quote from the contractor, they can try to re-negotiate down the offer price for the same amount it would take to make the repairs. The seller obviously wants to get the most they can out of the sale and may obtain the cheapest quote as a ‘counter quote’ and will use it in the re-negotiation process. As a rule of thumb, always let your seller feel that they got a good deal and they won the negotiations process, while knowing that you bought the house within your comfort level.”
According to the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA), the seller is not obliged to repair everything that shows up wrong on a home inspector’s report, and the buyer has to accept the house will not be flawless. The seller has the legal right to refuse doing the repairs. However, you should know the exceptions are where requirements are set forth by state law, the real estate purchase contract and local ordinance. In any case, the seller is required to disclose all relevant facts pertaining to the property for sale to perspective buyers.