Handling the Buyer's Home Inspection: Should I Give the Buyer an Allowance?
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Handling the Buyer's Home Inspection: Should I Give the Buyer an Allowance?

Inspectors not only wander through the house, but typically go up into the attic, in the basement, and in the crawlspace under the house. It can be dirty and dangerous. Why should it be your entire responsibility to pay for the fix? No, giving an allowance won't work every time, but sometimes it will work. And when it does, it might just save you a few bucks.
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Should I go along with the inspector?

I would, but a lot depends on your physical abilities. Inspectors not only wander through the house, but typically go up into the attic, in the basement, and in the crawlspace under the house. It can be dirty and dangerous. (You could step wrong in the attic and fall through the thin sheetrock ceiling into the room below.) Do you feel comfortable going such places? If not, then stay away. But if you do, you can learn a lot. While you can expect the written report to note any defects found, going along with the inspector can help clarify the problem to you. And the inspector often can suggest remedies, both inexpensive and costly. Finally, sometimes the inspector will mistake something and you can make a correction. For example, you and the inspector may be up in the attic and he or she spots watermarks on some of the rafters. "Aha," the inspector says, "You've got a leaky roof." "Had," you reply. "We had it fixed last year. It hasn't leaked since." "Oh," says the inspector and makes a note. Now the written report, instead of saying something about likely leaks in the roof, will probably say that watermarks indicate past leaks, which the owner notes have been fixed. It can make a big difference when the buyer reads the report. By the way, you also can expect the buyer to go along with the inspection, for the same reasons you are there. You can be a threesome learning as you go.

Should I give the buyer an allowance?

Sometimes you're aware of a problem with the house. For example, a frequent problem in some areas of the country is plumbing pipes. Put in 30 years or so ago, they are made of galvanized iron, which tends to rust over time. Now, 30 years later, leaks pop up all over the place. While any individual leak can be fixed, the whole plumbing system needs to be replaced with copper, which should cure the problem. However, it will cost $10,000 for the fix and you don't want to spend the money. One alternative is to disclose the problem directly to the buyers before they make the inspection (and uncover it for themselves) and offer a lump sum, say $2,500 toward fixing the problem. You can point out that this isn't enough for a complete fix, but it is likely enough to fix leaks as they occur for a long time. And if the buyers choose, they can apply the money toward a complete and more expensive fix. By getting the problem out in the open early and by offering a solution, you preempt the buyers' "discovery" of it and demand the buyers from saying they want the entire house replumbed by you. But, you can point out, for example, that you've only lived there 9 years and they are moving in and might stay there for another 9 years. Why should it be your entire responsibility to pay for the fix? No, giving an allowance won't work every time, but sometimes it will work. And when it does, it might just save you a few bucks.

 

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