Warning for Home Buyers – Surviving the Option Period and Negotiating Repairs

When buying a home, many savvy buyers spend countless hours researching realtors, lenders, types of homes, neighborhoods, and so much more. But as savvy as they may be, they could be overlooking several important factors when buying a home. Even with a real estate agent at their side, it is important to know a little more about buying a home and the contract they will be signing. One particularly important stage of a contract is the option period, a specific time granted for a home inspection to be done on the property.

A licensed home inspector will need to be scheduled to inspect the home during the option period which may be anywhere from 5-10 days long (depending on the contract) and in this time frame the buyer could feel worried, concerned, and rushed. Once they receive the report, they are sometimes at the mercy of their real estate agent’s expertise to determine the severity of any repairs that the home might need.

If you are using a real estate agent who has years of experience negotiating repairs, you could be in good hands. But, isn’t it important for you to have a plan before getting this far into a contract? You need more information to be an educated or informed consumer.

I have the following tips or ideas that can help you as a buyer when it comes to repair negotiating during the option period.

Be prepared, before buying a home, interview a few local inspectors. Your agent should have the names and numbers of several that he/she recommends. Call these inspectors ahead of time. Find out how long they have been in the business. If you are looking to find a home with a pool, you will need to know if they also do pool inspections, what the extra cost could be. If they do not, you will have to hire a pool inspector, which will be an extra cost.

Ask your agent to provide a copy or two of past inspections these inspectors have produced. Read over the inspections to see if you understand their format. Can you tell what items are in disrepair and understand the inspector’s recommendations.

When you are buying a home, you could become overwhelmed by the inspection report. There is a lot of information you might not be used to seeing on a daily basis if you are not in the home repair business. It is best to educate yourself before hand and be prepared. Before buying a home, find a handy man that can help you decipher an inspection and put together a repair estimate. You can email or fax the inspection report to your handyman for a quick estimate of each needed repair. This will allow you to prioritize these items and decide which repairs are most important to you to negotiate. This will give you a starting point and you will have the upper hand when negotiating. Not knowing the estimated cost of possible repairs will cost you in the long run.

Also, be sure to request the seller supply repair receipts as repairs are done to the home. Before closing, schedule a walk-thru of the home and follow up as much as you can on any requested repairs. For example, if you asked for the seller to repair the bedroom door knob, make sure to inspect that it was done correctly. Do this for all repairs that were requested on the repair amendment. This will give you the opportunity to have the seller remedy any inadequate repair before the sale is final.

This information concerns Texas residential contracts and may not apply to all states.

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