The simple answer is no, a seller has no obligation to fix any issues found at a buyer's inspection. A buyer's inspection is a private inspection paid for by the buyer for the buyer's information. There is no requirement that the seller fix anything simply because of a buyer's inspection. In fact, the inspection contingency addendum specifically states… THE PROPERTY, IF NOT NEW, CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO BE IN NEW CONDITION. ROUTINE MAINTENANCE ITEMS ARE NOT PART OF THIS ADDENDUM.
That said, there may be things that come up in a buyer's inspection that also come up as required fixes in a city time of sale inspection (required in these cities)… and buyers will frequently ask for something following the inspection. Most often the items sellers will agree to address are those that are a health or safety hazard, or things that are not working properly… often things they were unaware of themselves or they would have already fixed them.
Most buyers make their offer to purchase a property contingent upon a complete home inspection…for good reason. If you are like most people, buying a home is the biggest single investment you will ever make. It makes sense to protect that investment by having a qualified, professional inspector take an in-depth, unbiased look at your new home before you buy.
A professional buyer's home inspection will:
- Evaluate the structure, construction and mechanical systems
- Identify items that need to be repaired or replaced… either now or to plan for in the future
- Provide an education on home ownership for first-time home buyers… what I often consider to be the biggest benefit of a buyer's home inspection
Not all inspectors and inspections are the same… here is a link to a sample report and list of what is included in a buyer's inspection by Structure Tech Home Inspections, who we consider to be among the best in the business.
The inspection is usually completed within a week of coming to an agreement on a property. Plan on about 2-4 hours for a complete inspection. If you include a radon test, ask to have it set to be picked up at your regular inspection.
After reviewing the report you have three options: (1) accept everything as is and proceed to closing; (2) ask the seller to fix specific things prior to closing or give a price allowance for you to have them fixed after closing through either a contribution to buyer closing costs or a price reduction; or (3) cancel the purchase and have your earnest money refunded.
The seller can choose how to respond by either (1) agreeing to do everything the buyer asks; (2) negotiating requested repairs and/or compensation; or (3) refusing to do anything and cancelling the agreement, refunding earnest money to the buyer.
With so many buyers making quick decisions on properties in our highly competitive market there seem to be more cancellations after the buyer's inspection than ever this year… an even bigger reason to make your offer subject to inspection if you are buying.
Of course the flip side to that is… if you are certain there is nothing that an inspection would reveal that would make you change your mind about purchasing a particular home and there are multiple offers, making your offer not subject to inspection could make your offer more attractive… but this is not something to be considered lightly… make sure you understand the risks involved.
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results - Twin Cities Buyer's Agent