We find the inspection process confusing – do we have to fix everything in the inspection report before we sell our home or just the repairs the buyer requested?
The home inspection report is the document from which your buyer works to make their repair requests of you. Some buyers will ask for everything and others will ask for only those items that they think are important. They may let some things go, for example, if they are planning on renovating an area and anticipate fixing those items as a part of the renovation.
Once you and your buyer agree on a list of repairs, these are memorialized on an addendum. It is that addendum, called a Change in Terms Addendum (“CTA”), from which you work when completing your repairs. You need not refer to the inspection again unless the CTA references it. You do, however, need to make sure that you do everything on the CTA exactly as specified, so be sure to read it carefully and provide a copy to your contractor(s). For example, if the CTA says that you will have GFCI outlets installed by a licensed electrician then you need to make sure you hire a licensed electrician, and not your favorite handyman, to make the repair! If the CTA says you must paint to match existing then you need to take a sample of the existing paint to the paint store and color match it – don’t rely on old paint in cans – paint fades with age and it won’t match. Be very careful to be sure you are complying with the terms of the CTA – if you do not, or if your contractor does not, your closing may be delayed or postponed until the work is done as specified. Along those lines, be sure to review your contactor’s work when complete and make sure that he actually did what you agreed to do on the CTA. If not, request that he return before it becomes a walk-through issue.
And of course, be sure to get paid receipts from all contractors, or if they have not been paid, notify the closing company so that they can be paid at closing. All repairs must be paid for before ownership changes hands so be sure to stay on top of your bills, and provide receipts to the buyers agent.
A home’s value is set by the market. Value is always determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for your home. Many factors come into play in setting that value. Market value reflects quantitative factors such as: # bedrooms, # bathrooms, # garages, placement of garages (attached or integral), lot configuration (large and functional back yard? Cliff lot?), location of the home generally, age of roof, age of mechanicals. Market value also reflects more qualitative items: how updated is your home, and is it all new, or just refreshed? What is the floorplan (open concept?) What are your wall colors? There is always a range that value will land in, which we call the range of reasonable. There is no ONE price at which a home will sell. If there are many buyers seeking a home like yours, it will sell at the top of the range of reasonable. If there are not, it will take longer to sell and may sell a bit lower in the range. What the market does not consider in setting a value of a home is what you need from the home. In 2008, many homeowners had used their homes as ATMs and withdrawn large sums of money for educations, vacations and cars. When the market softened, there was not enough equity for them to be able to sell their homes and not be in a short sale situation. This fact, that a homeowner over-extended themselves on mortgages, is not the least bit relevant to market value. The market is also not going to consider what you plan to do next. If you plan to move to Los Angeles to be closer to family and are finding that the Pittsburgh market is not going to yield you enough to be able to buy in L.A., you will need to turn to other investments to make up any difference.
We are in a very robust market – your home is far more likely to garner more now – whatever that may be – than it could have in the past. Forecasters are also suggesting that values will soften by year end. My crystal ball is out for service, but what I can tell you is that every hot market eventually softens. Waiting out the market so that you can get a price that the market is unprepared to deliver at this time may have you waiting many, many years, and during that time you may need to invest even more in your home in order to deliver to the market what it needs in order to deliver an acceptable sale to you.