This sponsored, biweekly Q&A column is written by Andrew Goodman, broker/owner of Goodman, Realtors. Based in Bethesda, Andrew serves clients in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia. Please submit comments, questions, and opinions in the comments section or via email.
My home just had a home inspection done by the buyers. We received an addendum asking for a ton of items to either be repaired or replaced. Which items are we responsible to take care of and which items can we ignore?
The answer to your question has changed over the years. There are items that should be repaired or replaced by the seller and then there are items that don’t necessarily have to be. However, everything is negotiable.
In the past couple of years, the standard Montgomery County Regional Contract has changed. Before these changes, the contract included the following: “Seller warrants that except as otherwise provided, the existing appliances, heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical systems and equipment, and smoke and beat detectors (as required), will be in normal working order as of the Possession Date.”
Therefore, all of the items mentioned would have had to be repaired by the seller if something was found defective or broken with them. If any other items were found defective (such as windows, doors, locks, cosmetic items, or others) those would be up for negotiation between both parties.
The clause mentioned above is no longer in use. The contract merely states that the property will be delivered in the same condition as it was seen on a specified date such as the contract signing or home inspection.
So anything the buyer or buyers ask to be repaired or replaced based on the home inspection report is up for negotiation.
Even though the old clause is no longer in use, most realtors still abide by it and ask for those specific items and systems to be delivered in proper working order. I agree.
If I was your realtor, I would recommend to have all electrical, heating, cooling, plumbing equipment and systems in proper working order prior to the home being listed.
If any of these items were found to be defective during the home inspection, I believe the seller should repair the items or provide an equivalent credit so the buyers can take care of it on their own. It is also common for buyers to conduct termite and radon inspections. If termites were found or radon was found to be above the healthy average, I would recommend the seller take care of these issues too.
The reason for my recommendation is because of what the buyer’s lender will allow.
If termites were found on the property (most lenders require a termite inspection, depending on the loan program) the termites would have to be treated prior to settlement. There are also certain loan programs that would require the all utility systems and appliance items to be in proper working order prior to providing a mortgage on the property.
Items such as roofs and windows don’t necessarily need to be repaired or replaced by the seller. However, if there’s a leak, I would certainly hope the seller would repair it. If the seller did not repair a found roof or window leak, and the buyer backed away from the contract, the seller would then have to disclose any and all problems found defective with the property if it were to be put back on the market.
Cosmetic items are not required to be repaired by the seller. However, if no other items were found during the home inspection, the buyer may still ask for those items to be repaired in hopes to get something done by the seller.
The seller or sellers can decide if they want to fix those items, provide a little credit so they don’t have to worry about it or refuse to repair those items.
Everything is up for negotiation. The seller is not responsible to fix anything from the home inspection addendum. But many (myself included) refer back to old contract terminology and recommend that all issues pertaining to electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling equipment and systems be repaired so all systems are in proper working order.