Purchasing a home can be a long and stressful process. Homebuyers have possibly been looking at dozens of homes with their realtor over several months. After finally getting an accepted offer they are ready for the next big step: inspections and the repair request.
A home inspector’s role in this process is pretty limited. We spend a couple of hours doing the inspection and building a report, and then we are off to our next inspection with a new client. But that’s not the case for the client we just worked with.
Big decisions still need to be made. What repairs should they address with the seller? Do they ask for repairs to be done? Do they ask for some type of credit, or maybe even a cash payment so they can fix it themselves?
That is the purpose of the repair request and that is why they are motivated to hire us in the first place.
What Exactly is a Repair Request?
Most real estate purchase contracts include a Home Inspection Contingency clause. That is what gives the homebuyer, our client, the right to hire a home inspector to help them understand the condition of the property.
Once the home inspection is complete, the homebuyer will get together with their agent and decide what in the home inspection report is the most important to them. The homebuyer must release the contingency for the purchase to move forward, and that is typically done with a repair request. The home inspection report is used to document what and why those repairs are reasonable.
Why is This Important?
The homebuyer and the home inspector often look at the purpose of the home inspection differently. Some realtors will say “Don’t worry, the home inspector will find everything wrong with the house and give you a list of what needs to be fixed.” What the homebuyer really wants is a list of repairs to ask the seller to fix. They hire a home inspector with the expectation that they will receive that in the report.
This can cause misunderstandings and sometimes even conflict.
Ask a home inspector and you get a different answer. Most of us want to teach you about the home you are buying and provide a report. We don’t just list everything that needs to be fixed.
Why Care About the Repair Request?
The best real estate agents know how to negotiate issues that come up in the home inspection. They know that no home is perfect and also want their clients to be happy. The repair request is just another negotiation and another step in the process.
Some home inspectors refuse to tell their clients how to fix things. Others are a little more flexible and try to provide some guidance about how important something is and what needs to be done to address it. Some others may even provide estimates of costs. There is no right answer, it’s up to you how to run your business and treat your clients.
The homebuyer is still the one needs to make the choices. With the home inspector’s expertise, and hopefully their agent’s guidance, they will request the items they want to be addressed. In the end it is up to the homebuyer to reach an agreement with the seller.
Help Your Client Along Their Journey
To be a true professional means understanding what your customer needs and how you can help. Getting a home inspection report can be overwhelming enough for most homebuyers. Do you want to be the kind of home inspector to help them, or leave them confused and stressed?
Take a little time and think how we fit into the entire home purchasing journey. Deliver the report your client really wants. Help them understand what is important and what to do next to fix it. By preparing them for the next step of making the repair request, you will have a grateful and satisfied client.