In most states, the purchase contract gives a buyer a certain number of days to conduct inspections, including a home inspection. You might also consider a pest inspection, chimney inspection or sewer inspection. If you uncover a major defect that you cannot accept, you are often free to cancel the contract.
- Hire a reputable home inspector. Not every state requires inspectors to possess any licensing or credentials. A home inspection is for your education and is not a laundry list to present to the seller to repair.
- Bring a home inspection checklist with you. You will want to make sure every area of concern has been inspected and your questions addressed.
- Attend the home inspection. Do not follow the home inspector around, like a Zillow book wrongly suggests, or the home inspector will silently curse you under his or her breath. Let the inspector do the job of inspection in peace. Wait until the home inspector is finished before asking questions.
Consider a Request for Repair
The seller is not obligated to fix anything, not even lender required repairs. Some appraisals might contain what is called “conditions,” which are defects of some sort that need to be corrected before the lender will fund the loan. Either party can take steps to satisfy loan conditions, this is negotiable.
- If the home inspection turns up significant and unexpected problems, you can sign a request for repair by asking the seller to either address those issues, give you a credit toward closing costs or lower the sales price. Realize the seller might say no and determine whether you can live with that kind of response.
- Realize no home is perfect, and the inspector will find faults. Don’t expect everything on the home inspection report to be fixed nor allowed for in the sales price.
- Be reasonable. I know this is a tough one because it’s subjective to some people, but being reasonable means making rational inquiries. Your agent can guide you.
Not every listing agent will ask for a release of contingencies, but those are the lazy agents. To fully protect a seller, most listing agents will demand the release of all contract contingencies by the date those releases are due.
- The contingencies do not expire at the end of a specified time period, contrary to popular belief.
- Try to make sure your loan is firm and the appraisal is acceptable before removing your loan contingency. If your lender can’t confirm your loan, you might still need to remove the loan contingency, if you are contractually obligated to.
- If you refuse to remove contingencies, the seller can issue a Notice to Perform and then unilaterally cancel the contract.