How to Assess and Negotiate Repairs When Buying a House


A house is a major investment, so you want to be smart when making this purchase. When looking at a property, it's important to consider what repairs or renovations may need to be liveable. Major fixes like a new roof can be costly and should be factored on top of the house's actual sale price. Find out how to assess and negotiate repairs below.

Determine what repairs are needed before closing the deal

Before you close on any home, make sure to determine exactly what repairs it will need. A home inspection is the first step towards this end. In this process, an objective third-party surveys the house from top to bottom, identifying potential problems. A thorough inspection includes structural issues as well as home systems like HVAC, electrical, and plumbing.

In addition to having an inspection performed, the buyer can also ask the seller to complete a disclosure document. Ares Law explains that sellers and their realtors are legally obligated to share certain facts about a property that could impact its value—even stigmas that surround it, like if a murder was committed there.

A trusted local realtor like CatanaTeam can help you navigate these procedures, ensuring your rights are protected throughout the home-buying process. A local real estate agent will also have the connections needed to help you find a qualified home inspector. Further, they can help you negotiate with the seller regarding repairs, potentially saving you money.

Take necessary repairs into account when negotiating with the seller

Following the home inspection, you will be provided with a list of issues that could require repairs. Some of the problems may be small, while others could be significant. More serious issues like mold or asbestos may be a reason to walk away from a house altogether. However, some issues are worth negotiating with the seller.

My Move recommends not worrying about small things, like cosmetic issues like chipped paint. Instead, focus on problems that impact liveability, like a faulty foundation or leaky roof. You may be able to get the seller to issue a closing credit to cover the costs of such repairs. Alternatively, you may be able to get them to make the repairs before the sale.

Note that these options aren't always possible. For example, if you opt to buy a house "as is," you can't demand the seller make any such repairs or issue credits. Homes sold as-is are generally cheaper. However, they come with the caveat that you are getting them in their current condition. As RedFin explains, the seller has no obligation to make improvements.

Create a priority plan for your repairs

Once you've successfully negotiated your sale and closed the deal on your home, you can tackle the necessary fixes. Prioritize issues that impact your ability to live comfortably and safely in the house. Examples include a damaged foundation, termite issues, old electrical wiring, and plumbing leaks.

While you should hire professional assistance for these larger problems, there are likely also DIY fixes you can handle yourself. Smaller tasks like updating light fixtures, painting rooms, or swapping out cabinet handles are a few examples. Once all the repairs and renovations are done, give your new home a thorough cleaning to get rid of remodelling dust and debris.

Finally, don't forget to give the outside of your new home some TLC. Your house's exterior impacts its curb appeal and home value. HGTV Canada provides a roundup of exterior upgrades that can favourably impact value, including replacing windows, painting the siding, and getting new gutters.

When buying a house, don't necessarily expect it to be move-in ready. Identifying needed repairs upfront will allow you to negotiate a more successful sale and save money.

For more content like this, check out the Catana Team Realty Blog.