Deciding which repairs matter
A Keller Williams ® Realty Guide
By Gary Keller with Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan
There are certain problems buyers typically ask sellers to handle. These include deferred maintenance, such as cleaning the pool or gutters, or having a neglected heating or air-conditioning system serviced. As always, local norms help provide a guide. “We have many septic systems and wells, and sellers typically pay for their septic systems to be pumped and inspected,” says agent Roy Van Winkle. “That’s not written anywhere, but it’s just expected.”
The kinds of problems you encounter will depend on your region. Shifting foundations and termites are common in the South; basement leaks or insulation problems frequently occur up North. Your agent will be able to estimate what many common repairs will cost; in some cases he or she may recommend calling in a contractor for an estimate. Once you see your repair bill, you can decide what to ask the seller to fix, and what you’re comfortable repairing (either with or without a repair allowance).
We suggest you exercise caution when deciding how to handle problems-such as leaks, electrical work, or pests-that require opening walls. It can often be difficult to tell how extensive such problems are from the outside, so when you open the wall, you may find a much larger problem than you bargained for. So, ask the sellers to handle inside-the-wall repairs, if possible. Otherwise, you may negotiate a repair allowance of one amount, only to find once the drywall is in pieces that fixing the problem will cost five times more than you expected.
If you thinking of taking on a major repair, we encourage you to factor in your short- and long-term plans. If you’re staying only a few years, extensive repairs may not be worth the hassle. On the other hand, if this is the home you intend to live in for many years, it can be exciting to take the reins on an upgrade that will last a lifetime.
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