What is reasonable during a request to remedy? A good definition is “What would an ordinary buyer and seller consider reasonable, and what is fair to both parties?”
What is Considered Reasonable?
If an item is included in the listing, and stated on the Residential Property Disclosure to be in good working condition and without defect, it is reasonable for the buyer to request that it be repaired. The buyer expects the home to be delivered at closing in the condition that was represented during the purchase price negotiations.
If the sprinkler system has multiple leaks and broken heads, it’s reasonable for the buyer to ask that it be repaired.
If the HVAC system is found to have a leaking condenser coil, is low on Freon, and the drain pan is rusted through, it’s reasonable that the buyer request the system to be returned to good working order prior to closing.
Other examples would be failing or near-failing HVAC equipment, plumbing leaks, a damaged roof, leaking roof, foundation issues, non-functioning appliances, dangerous electrical or mechanical conditions, etc.
This applies to any item that, had the information been known, would have directly affected the negotiations. A $200,000 home that contains $12,000 in urgent deferred maintenance is no longer worth $200,000. It can cost $5,000 to $10,000 to replace a bad roof. It can cost $2,000 to $8,000 to repair/replace failing HVAC equipment. It can cost $500 to $1,000 to put a neglected sprinkler system back into proper working order.
Also, remember that items not functioning at the time of closing are excluded from the Home Warranty. Therefore, do not let the seller or agent tell you “The Home Warranty will replace that after closing”. It won’t. It has to be fixed, and be in working order at closing to be covered by your home warranty.
What is Considered Unreasonable?
This is not designed to be a second chance at negotiating a lower price. It is unreasonable to expect a seller to cure low-level repair items. No home is perfect, and all homes have minor defects and problems. Even new homes have minor problems and defects. The older the home, the more of these items you need to be prepared to accept without fuss.
It is also unreasonable to expect sellers to cure code items in older homes, when those items were not required at the time the home was built. The inspector may flag things on the inspection as “safety” issues, such as missing GFI outlets, or the flex gas line supplying your furnace, but that’s the way the house was built when it was new. It met code at that time, and the seller did not agree to “upgrade” or modify the home to current building standards when your offer was accepted.
Exceptions to these guidelines:
Every rule has exceptions. If the buyer has absolutely hammered the seller on the price, they should not expect to hammer them again on repairs. Likewise, if the seller holds out for at or above full price on the sale, they should expect to be a bit more flexible on the repairs. A buyer paying full price will want the home in “full price condition”.