If you are looking at a house, condo, or villa to buy and are planning on making an offer it is likely you will arrange to have a professional house inspector do an assessment of the structure and infrastructure before the contract is finalized. If you have a background in this area you may elect to do the inspection yourself. In any case you should have the results of the house inspection in a written report form along with photos highlighting any areas needed attention. In making an offer to purchase you should be sure that your contract includes a house inspection clause with a specified time frame to have the inspection done and for the buyer and seller to respond and negotiate any items flagged during the inspection.
In many cases professional house inspectors now use software programs designed to rapidly produce and house inspection report, often during the same day the inspection was done. This house inspection will likely cost hundreds of dollars but it can be a useful leveraging tool to increase the likelihood of maximizing the return on the dollars you spend on purchasing the house.
To maximize the value of this inspection report you should read through it carefully several times. On the second and subsequent readings start making notations on the report using a green, blue and red marker (or whatever colors you select). The red marker will be used to highlight items that you expect to use as negotiation points in requesting they be repaired or replaced. The blue marker will mark items you are considering asking for a cash credit at closing. The green marker will be used to denote items that you will accept as is and don’t feel strongly about.
As you formulate your strategy continue to mark up the inspection report with your thoughts and points you are considering making. The process of writing them down may bring to mind other areas you may wish to comment on. Write everything down even if you are not sure you will use it later so you won’t forget. It helps the seller and listing agent if you follow the same sequence as the inspection report. Many reports are written in outline form and in those cases you should use the same numbering system for your responses.
As you refine your comments you hopefully will be able to balance many of your requests with accepting other items ‘as is’. For example your report might show:
12.1 Master Bath vanity bowl aged/cracked-Buyer accepts as is.
The latter statement would be in green.
Another item where you are requesting repairs would be in red:
11.5 Three windows have faulty thermopane seals-Seller to have qualified contractor replace these or repair (with appropriate warranty) and have them inspect all other windows/doors and replace/repair similar problems.
There will likely be some items where you request a cash credit at closing so you can arrange to have them fixed yourself. The credit amounts proposed can be your own estimates or based on bids you get from contractors. These credits would be in blue:
14.5 GFCI needed at rear patio receptacle and 3 outlets nearest kitchen sink-Credit Buyer $185.
By using colors on the house inspection report reply the Seller will see that in some areas you are willing to accept items that were flagged in the house inspection and thus are being reasonable in not wanting everything fixed. For other items they will see you are willing to make the arrangements to repair or replace thus saving them the time involved in finding a contractor to do a minor job.
Having your reply in a logical form that follows the original house inspection report will help negotiations, if required, to move along rapidly. Using this and a color coded reply will allow the Seller to graphically see you are taking a balanced approach in your requirements and it is likely they will respond in kind when it comes to their concessions. Be sure that your reply is well within the response period specified in your purchase contract.