What Fixes Are Mandatory After A Home Inspection?

The PropertyClub Team
Jul 6th 2020
A home inspection is an integral part of the home buying process. So what happens if issues are uncovered. How do you request repairs, are any mandatory, and who pays?

Buying a new home is an exciting time, but as a buyer, you’re probably aware that there are things that can go wrong during the process. The most likely reason for a sale to fall through is a home inspection that discovers repairs that are too big to go unaddressed. This can also be a scary time for a seller since no one wants to find out there’s something major wrong with their house.

House inspections are nerve-wracking for everyone involved, especially the seller. It might be a good idea to have an inspection of your own before you put the house on the market if you want to be prepared for what an inspector might find. Many sellers choose to do this as a way of readying themselves for what they might need to pay to fix, although it isn’t necessary.

What is a home inspection?

During the process of closing on a house, a buyer will hire a home inspector to look at the property and determine whether it is safe, and what repairs might need to be made to the home. Typically, mortgage lenders will require that a home inspection take place before closing.  A home inspector will usually look for things that are unsafe, broken, deficient, or in need of repairs. Home inspectors won’t look for anything that is considered cosmetic. 

A typical house inspection will take a few hours, during which the inspector will check the interior and exterior of the home before writing up their report. That report will take a few days to get back to you, and you can then determine which repairs you need to negotiate with the seller. The most common things looked at during an inspection are:

  • Structural problems
  • Water damage
  • An old or damaged roof
  • Insect and pest infestations
  • Electrical problems
  • Plumbing issues

What Fixes Are Mandatory After A House Inspection?

Legally speaking, there are no “mandatory” repairs. The seller can’t be forced to fix anything that comes up on the house inspection report, but the buyer can back out if the seller won’t budge on the necessary repairs. A seller may then just opt to sell the house ‘as is’ at a reduced price since there might be a range of repairs that are listed. Any damage that makes the house inhospitable or dangerous should be a deal-breaker for a buyer. 

A lender may mandate repairs that could potentially make the house less hazardous and safer, in order for the mortgage company to agree to lend on the home. It’s usually not in a seller’s best interest to refuse to make significant repairs since if the sale falls through, any future buyers will probably demand that those repairs be made anyway.

In some cases when a buyer and seller are nearing a deal, the buyer might require a home inspection. As part of the agreement, they may include a clause that demands the seller to pay for any specific repairs or to take care of anything over a certain dollar amount. At that point, the seller would then be forced to make the repairs to avoid breaking the deal. This makes it especially important for sellers to do their due diligence and become aware of potential problems beforehand so that they don’t get stuck with major repairs. 

In some states, some laws might require that a seller fix any glaring safety issues (like missing smoke detectors or mold) before they can sell the home. Otherwise, a lender may require repairs to be addressed before they risk an investment.

The most common repairs needed after a house inspection include:

  • Leaks and plumbing issues
  • HVAC problems
  • Roofing
  • Drainage issues
  • Broken appliances

Requesting repairs after a home inspection

There are several common repairs needed after a home inspection. Some become the responsibility of the seller, and others will become the responsibility of the buyer. However, as a buyer, it is possible to request additional repairs after a home inspection. If certain repairs were not agreed upon prior to the inspection, then you may have to do a little negotiating to get your wish. 

The most common repairs needed after a home inspection include:

  • Leaks and plumbing issues
  • HVAC problems
  • Roofing
  • Drainage issues
  • Broken appliances

Reasonable requests after a home inspection

Once the home inspection is complete, you might wonder what to expect a seller to fix. Your real estate agent can help you push back on any major issues that the seller will try to ignore, such as plumbing, HVAC, or electrical problems. Others include pest problems, roofing, and structural damage. These are specific issues that are reasonable to request a repair on before you purchase. 

At the same time, there are also a few requests that are not so reasonable:

  • Cosmetic issues such as preferred paint color or window appearance
  • Fixes under $100 such as a leaky faucet or draughty door
  • Updates to the house such as extending the kitchen or building a patio
  • Minor cracks in walls, floors, or ceilings
  • Landscaping 
  • External buildings such as a garage, shed, or even the pool

Who Pays for Repairs After A Home Inspection?

Beyond what ends up being deemed necessary for a seller to fix, no law requires them to pay for repairs. However, it’s common for there to be a home inspection negotiation between parties once the results come back. Usually, a buyer will ask that the sales price of the house be dropped in order to cover the cost of any agreed-upon fixes. Alternatively, a buyer can ask that a seller pay for the repairs upfront and get them taken care of before closing.

It should be noted that if there are lots of significant issues with a home, it might just be better to walk away from the sale, especially if the seller is reluctant to make repairs. Fixes like a bad termite infestation or a new roof can cost tens of thousands of dollars and should be carefully considered.

Usually, at some point during the sales process, a buyer will make the closing of the sale contingent upon the outcome of the home inspection. This is always advisable, as not only does it leave you free and clear to walk away from the sale if repairs won’t be made, but it also makes the seller aware that they will be expected to negotiate any necessary fixes. 

Once repairs are negotiated, make sure to get that in writing to ensure it is legal and binding. Don’t simply take the seller’s word for it that the repairs will be taken care of. Unfortunately, if a seller refuses to make repairs, there isn’t much a buyer can do but try to negotiate or walk away from the sale. 

In general, there is no “one size fits all” rule for who must pay for what after a home inspection. To make the process as smooth and painless as possible for everyone involved, it’s a good idea to negotiate repairs as part of the sale from the very beginning. As a buyer, be prepared to walk away from a home that has too many issues. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.