When you buy a house, it’s not unusual to find that it needs a bit of work. In some cases—especially if you are handy or are okay with a fixer-upper — you may be willing to take on those repairs yourself. You might even be able to use that as leverage to get the seller to lower their price. If you’re not willing or able to tackle repairs, however, you can ask the seller to take care of these issues before you close.
As a rule of thumb, buyers should be most concerned about issues that relate to health and safety and those that represent structural problems. While some home maintenance issues may be obvious, others might be identified during a home inspection. Make sure your contract specifically addresses which repairs you want the seller to make.
- Major Electrical Concerns
Faulty wiring, shorts, and overloaded circuit panels are examples of electrical issues that pose a safety hazard. Those must be addressed before your family moves into the home. Minor quirks involving light switches, ceiling fans, and electrical accessories may be something you can handle.
- Serious Plumbing Problems
Major leaks, drainage issues, and problems with the sewer or septic system are typically a seller’s responsibility because they can impact the livability and functionality of the property. A dripping faucet or running toilet may be left up to the buyer.
- Foundation Issues
Big foundation problems can represent a significant expense, as well as a major safety concern, so that would be something you might insist on the seller fixing. Minor cracks are pretty common, and likely don’t represent an issue the seller would be forced to fix. If you’re concerned, hire a structural engineer to determine how serious the crack is.
Mold is a potential health hazard, so a mold expert must first assess the seriousness of the problem. Surface mold can often be treated with a thorough cleaning, while an advanced case may need professional removal and remediation.
- Roof Repairs
Serious roof leaks can have a domino effect, causing damage to other parts of the home, including the foundation. The seller would typically need to make these repairs before the sale. Damaged or discolored ceilings or walls caused by previous leaks that have since been repaired, however, may be considered cosmetic issues and could be something that is up for negotiation.
- HVAC Issues
A malfunctioning or inoperable heating or air conditioning system would be considered a major mechanical defect with the property and would usually be the seller’s responsibility. Minor repairs such as filters that need replacing would not necessarily be considered urgent.
- Major Infestations
Nobody wants to share their home with unwelcome, uninvited guests. Rodents and insects can present a health and safety concern, and may also pose a risk to the integrity of the house. If wildlife such as bats or squirrels have invaded the house, the seller should evict them (and block their means of access). While a few ants or fruit flies aren’t worth you making a big fuss, certain insects—particularly termites—can cause property damage that can potentially be substantial, so you’ll want this to be addressed before you buy the house.
- Serious Plumbing Problems