The home inspector was nitpicking; he was completely wrong in that statement; and he was complaining that a house built forty-five years ago does not meet up to current code. Sound familiar? Each inspector has his own style in phrasing his findings, and I might not fully agree with the different styles, but I only have an issue when an inspector is reaching to find a problem where there is none. A home seller confronted with a home inspection report has to realize a few things about the reporting process in order to make a more appropriate response to the buyer.
How do you deal with a buyer who is upset with the findings? I have become frustrated by some reports, and I would love to tell the home inspector what he did wrong, but this does not help the situation. You are still in the negotiating phase, and you need to work with the buyer to reach the goal which you both desire: the real estate sale. Here are steps in dealing with the inspection which concerns the buyer:
Situation One: the inspector points out a problem which you know he was incorrect about: let’s say that he says the oven is not working, but it is a new oven. The best option is to have a technician come out to look at the oven, and write a report as to its condition. However, it is an oven, and you may not want to spend that money. Buy an oven thermometer, and set the oven to a specific temperature to check the temperature with the thermometer. See for yourself if it is truly different. Now, on an air conditioning or electrical system would be better examined by a technician than by yourself.
Situation Two: the inspector mentions something which is easy to repair : my favorite example of this is the anti-siphon device on hose bibs. This is around six dollar part, which you can just screw onto the bib. Many repairs may be on your level, or may be handled by a local handyman. If they are a concern for the buyer, these repairs may not be too expensive, although if you look at prices inspectors list on their reports you could believe it may cost thousands ( a pet peeve of mine). Write a list of all of the repairs done to improve the house for the sale, and the repairs done due to the inspection report.
Situation Three: a major problem has been discovered which may incur huge costs to the buyer to repair. First is the problem immediate, or something that might happen? Immediate would be an issue like the foundation has been damaged in some way, and it needs a repair. In this case, you may need to negotiate a price reduction to help the buyer cover the expense, or have this done yourself. If it is a comment like the air conditioning may not last for the next year, then offer to pay for a home warranty for a year.
You have to remember that on many occasions that you will not know exactly what the inspector said, so do not argue directly. Show that there is another opinion if you feel that he was wrong, but other issues may not be major expenses; however, they are a concern for the buyer. Repair costs can be greatly inflated, so look at what the cost actually is through your own quote, or just handle the repairs on your own. If you want to sell the home, find a way to keep the negotiation going, and you may have a deal.
Another concern which comes up in home inspection reports revolves around statements of this is not the way we build homes now. A good example of this kind of statement would be concerning the electrical outlets. Electrical safety is improving, and we have outlets that address some of these issues (TR and WR outlets). Unless your home was built after 2009, you would not have this type of outlet. I would have to state this fact in my report, due to current regulations regarding what is required in my report. A buyer may decide this is important to have, so they could insist on having these installed. As the seller, you should realize that any home in your area will have the same issue, so the buyer will always face this problem, unless buying a newly built home. In this case, you may wish to point out to the buyer this would be the fact, and you do not agree to make those repairs. Replacing all of the outlets in your home can be expensive. When it comes to being up to current building standards, we have a balancing act. I had a situation where the inspector pointed out that the framing of a house built in 1964 was not up to current building codes. He did mention that he saw no problems with it. The buyer insisted that the seller have the framing meet current code. This was a silly request, because the buyer was asking the seller to rebuild the house. In another instance, I found an electrical panel installation that was not particularly safe. It may have been built to the code of the time, but the current situation could have led to a fire or injury if someone was not being careful. The seller agreed to update to a panel which met current practices. (The seller was buying a house with the same situation, so they asked the homeowner who was selling that house to make the same updates). As the seller, you have to be the judge as to what repairs you may agree to do. Maybe you are already offering the home at below market value, because you know repairs have to be made. When it comes to safety, I would be less willing not to make a repair.