7 repair requests to re-consider

Missy Yost of Inman News wrote an interesting article a while back about buyers being educated regarding which home repairs are actually necessary before finalizing a deal. I’ve re-formatted the original article below, with some of my insight added:

Most buyers and sellers understand that buying and selling a home requires negotiation. You give a little here, and they concede a bit there. But what do you do when you have a buyer who demands unnecessary repairs after a home inspection?

Educating buyers so that they better understand which repairs are necessary and which may annoy the seller enough for the deal to shatter is part of the job of a real estate agent. Here is a list of seven repair requests that buyers should think twice about before making.

1. Easily repaired items under $10

Whole-house inspectors often come back with a list of items that cost under $10 to repair or replace. Save yourself the hassle, and omit these things from the list of requested repairs. If repairs are not related to a safety issue or the breakdown of an expensive system, it’s better to refrain from listing them, if you are asking for a credit, than take them into account by rounding up.

2. Replacement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Sometimes buyers are adamant they want missing smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors replaced. Although these are safety items, unless local codes say differently, it is better if the buyer installs the smoke and carbon monoxide indicators after closing. That way, they can make an informed decision on the type of alarms they feel most comfortable using in their new home. Fortunately, in our area, they are required by law to be installed and should be done prior to an appraiser coming out as they have to take pictures of them. If they are not there, the lender will not fund the loan until they have been installed and the appraiser has a picture to confirm.

3. Cosmetic issues in a resale home

Unless the home is brand-new construction, advising your clients against noting uneven paint or stained baseboards on a repair request is a good idea. Normal wear and tear should be expected in any resale home and should be a factor in the original price negotiations.  Homes are usually priced for condition and similar homes that have recently sold. Most buyers want a home that is move-in ready, thus why remodeled homes tend to sell at a premium.

4. Repairs related to minor plumbing and electrical issues

Often, a whole-home inspector will list in the report issues with simple electrical and plumbing items such as an upside down outlet, or corrosion on a fitting. Unless the problems cited are a safety concern, a buyer should not list them as a requested repair. Simple issues such as an upside down outlet or a corroded water line to a sink are simple DIY repairs or matters easily handled by a handyman.  Outlets that are not GFI’s tend to be common issue in our area. An outlet by water should be GFI – that is a health and safety issue, but for the rest of the outlets – especially if the house is 40 years or older – will not have GFIs, and the cost is about $350.

5. Repair of hairline cracks in the basement or driveway

Concrete expands and contracts naturally, and over time, cracks will occur. As long as the cracks are minor, don’t list them in a request for repairs. However, if the breaks are over a quarter inch, it’s an excellent idea to have a structural inspection. Structural cracks are a whole new ballgame.

6. Outdoor landscaping, porch and fence repairs

These items were visible at the initial showing and will be a factor in the initial offer and negotiations. It’s not a good idea to ask for things that were obvious at the beginning such as sod replacement, fence restoration, loose railings or loose hinges. The exception is if the repair is necessary as part of the loan process such as in an FHA, VA or USDA loan.

7. Replacement of failed seals in windows

Unless the window is under warranty, most sellers will refuse to fix a failed seal. Window seals fail over time with use, and depending on the age of the window seal, failure can be expected. It’s another simple fix, and sometimes you need to choose your battles.

For all items on this list that your buyer would like to have fixed and are not safety or related to the failure of an expensive system can be included in a request for credit at closing. Sellers are more likely to agree to a $300 credit for the buyer to replace 30 $10 items than they will to repair or replace the 30 issues themselves.

Never let a buyer take possession before closing

Picture this: the odds and ends of a real estate transaction you’re involved with are taking longer than expected to tie up. Whether it be a miscommunication between the realtors, legal issues, or uncontrollable circumstances, you just want the home to close escrow.

So, you have already moved out and agree to let the buyer move in over the weekend since you will be closing on Monday or Tuesday. Even though the final forms have been signed, you won’t close for a few more days. You figure, “Heck, whats the harm?”

Oops. What if there is a financial or legal issue that crops up? Worst of all, what if the new buyer starts making changes to the home and they – or someone they hire – gets hurt on the property before it is officially theirs? What happens if there is a fire? I know of one situation where the seller allowed the buyers to put their belongings in the garage and there was something flammable and it started a house fire. Do you think those buyers still bought the house?  No, the sale did not close and the seller was left dealing with a mess and no house to sell.

Now that is a heap of trouble, tripped up by a tangle of confusing liability. What you thought was an act of goodwill has just turned the final few steps of the transaction into an absolute nightmare!

Even if this scenario seems unlikely, it is still possible. And that is reason enough to never let a buyer take possession of a property before the closing is completed. Crazier things have happened!

A realtor’s job is to protect the interests of their clients and a good agent will counsel you against having a buyer or their belongings in your property prior to the transfer of title.
If you think you might want to buy or sell in the near future, feel free to reach out to me for an organized, knowledgeable, friendly ally in the real estate process! You can always reach me at my website under the contact tab at www.kristinlanham.com.

Tax returns and your loan approval!

Our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending came up with another relatable blog recently: Tax Transcripts and 4506-T forms. It generally explains how those forms work, and reminded me of an experience of my own. First, a summary of Jay’s blog:

Every time a lender gets a loan from a borrower, they also have to get the last two years of tax returns. This is why borrowers sign IRS Form 4506-T as part of their disclosures. It formally authorizes lenders to request tax transcripts, which then show the filer’s status and income information.

Lenders are required to request transcripts from the IRS before a borrower can (borrowers can only request them directly if the IRS reject’s a lender’s request). If there is a minor error between the 4506-T and the tax return, this rejection may occur, so it happens pretty often.

That covers the basics of how the 4506-T form works and the role it plays in a real estate transaction. It’s a more subtle part of the process, but can cause huge headaches when done incorrectly. Take, for example, my experience with a property at Madeira in Pleasant Hill last year.

I represented the seller, and the buyer had their lender in Oakland, with a Bank out of L.A. Unbeknownst to us, the bank was being bought out and the new bank was called Bank of Hope – yes, really. But it turned out to be the Bank of Hopelessness.

Abode, Advertising, Banking, Building, Buy, Buyer

Processes changed, the lender in Oakland was let go and nobody knew what they were doing. Communication was terrible. One of the balls that got dropped was getting the tax returns. We closed almost two weeks late and the only way this ended up closing at all is by the processor who I had been speaking with regarding other issues. They actually went down to the IRS office and got the tax returns. She went beyond what is required (and probably got tired of our phone calls), but my seller is an attorney and also made multiple phone calls as they had already purchased a new home that was about to close.

This is one of the best reasons to get fully underwritten before you start to write offers. If all the documentation is in upfront, there won’t be any surprises or delays once you get into contract. Selecting the right lender can be the difference between smooth sailing and dark nightmares.