You've got an offer on your house. Congratulations! The hard part's over...right? Wrong!
Many sellers -- mostly first-time sellers because anyone who's sold a house before knows better -- assume that once they get an offer on their house, it's a done deal. The only thing left is to pack up and hand over the keys.
Ah...but there's one major step in between. The inspection.
The inspection, and inspection report, can, and does, kill a deal. Unfortunately there's no way around this one.
Seller: First of all, after you get an accepted offer on your house, the next thing the buyer (or buyer's agent) will likely do is schedule a third-party inspection of your home and property. You will need to leave the house for this, just as you would an open house or any other showing. The buyer, buyer's agent, and inspector, will scour every last inch of the house, generally taking one to three hours. The inspector will point out things he/she notices that are a concern and write up a detailed report.
The buyer, along with their agent, will study the report and decide what, if anything, they want to ask you, the seller, to fix or otherwise address before the sale is completed. They can ask for as many things as they want. That doesn't mean you as the seller have to fix a single one of them. However, your response to their request may very well kill the deal.
After the buyer and their agent compile the list of things they want addressed, they will send an Inspection Response to you or your agent. The ball is then in your court. As I said before, it's totally up to you if you will accommodate the buyer's requests, or if you will counter back with an offer to fix some, but not all, of them.
Here's the bottom line: Mr. and Ms. Seller...Would you buy a house with x, y, and z "wrong" with it?
It's important to look at your own house objectively. Look at it like you did when you bought it. Or if you were considering buying it today. What would you want corrected before you forked over any money and moved in? Put yourself in the buyer's shoes. This will help immensely.
Buyers: Now is not the time to get too greedy. The inspection report will likely list a plethora of items that range from very minor to big, red flag concerns. Focus on the big concerns. There is no house that will be perfect. I heard someone compare it to relationships. You're never going to find a perfect house, free of quirks and flaws. You're looking for the perfect house for you, with quirks and flaws that you can live with.
So keep that in mind. What can you live with? And what can't you live with? If you truly love this house, you will probably have to compromise on something. I wouldn't want you to lose a perfect-for-you house over a few cracked window seals or a non-functioning dishwasher.
It's also wise, as the buyer, to put yourself in the seller's shoes. Imagine you're trying to sell your house. You've possibly already put some money into it -- to fix or replace some things or to paint or make updates. How much money are you likely to pour in now, at the eleventh hour, just to hand over the keys?
It's a balancing act for sure. Neither the buyer nor seller want to pay any more money than they have to. And both want the best deal they can possibly get. Now is a good time to lean on your agent for guidance and support. After all, they're not as emotionally invested in this house as you are. They can guide you in regards to how to handle the inspection (what to ask to have fixed, if you're the buyer), and the inspection response (what to spend the money on and fix, if you're the seller).
But bottom line, it's your decision -- Mr. and Ms. Buyer and Seller. I urge you to keep the big picture in mind. You're buying and selling a house. Appliances can be fixed or purchased. Other repairs can be made in time. So you hate the wallpaper that's in every room but the sellers refuse to take it down? Is that really worth losing the house over?
One more tip, for the seller... Get an inspection yourself before you put your house on the market!
This is something few sellers do, because there is a cost to it. But if you want to go into listing your house with your eyes wide open, knowing what the buyers will find out eventually anyway, this might be something you want to consider doing.
This way you'll get the list of concerns the inspector notices and can choose to fix, or not fix, any or all of them upfront. It'll save you headaches and anxiety down the line. That's not to say when the buyer hires their own, different, inspector, he or she might not find additional things...but those should be minimal.
Don't let the inspection ruin your home buying, or home selling, experience. Use it for what it's intended. To know what you're buying and to address major concerns ahead of time.