Home buyers very rarely look in the attic or the basement when they are deciding on a home purchase. In the case of an attic, they probably will never go up there. And in the case of a crawl space- who would want to crawl around in the dirt down there? I would NOT recommend crawling a crawlspace without coveralls and a respirator.
There is very important information on the condition of the home that are contained within these places. A damp basement might indicate poor drainage or a small sewerline or plumbing leak. If the crawlspace is muddy or has pools of water- that can be a condition that leads to subterrain termite infestation, as well as wood rot and mold. The crawl will also reveal if a house has had a seismic retrofit with earthquake bolting. Inside the attic may reveal insulation in the rafters, the condition of the roof
and if there are roof leaks, Central Air and heat ducting; the list goes on and on. These are great places to find information about the house because the walls are exposed.
As a buyer, when you have negotiated a price for the purchase of a new home- you do so without the knowledge of reading an inspection report prepared by a professional inspector. Inspectors will carefully examine the property and write a detailed report of its condition. It is important to note, that no home is perfect- not even new homes. There are going to be small things here and there that you will just have to deal with. For example, a small crack in a window, a small stain on the carpet, windows that aren’t easy to open, stuff like that. Los Angeles has a very old housing stock- the majority of the Los Angeles Basin was developed in the 1920s-1950s. These homes are still performing well today, of course, with some updating.
Let’s suppose that the inspection report turns up something MAJOR. I would say anything under 1% of the purchase price isn’t too major (however some sellers may be very sensitive – everyone is different). That is because the seller and buyer will probably be easily able to reach an agreement, and the repair is inexpensive. In general, you have to have a pretty big justifiable reason to ask for a request for repairs more than 1-2%, and a collaborating non biased third party report from a professional company with good reputation.
Some buyers may try to adjust the purchase price with a request for repairs because they feel they paid too much. This is bad. It is infinitely harder to get money off with a request for repairs, then getting it when negotiating the offer. Try to give yourself a cushion upfront by negotiating a good price, so that inevitably when inspections reveal problems, you can feel ok paying to fix these problems yourself. Sellers, who feel like they have already given a lot of ground negotiating the offer, my take an “as is” mentality- and won’t make any repairs.
In a request for repairs anything that would be viewed as an upgrade or improvement to the property will probably be vetoed by seller. For example asking for the seller to throw in a Jacuzzi just for the heck of it- I don’t think they would go for that. Sellers very rarely consider earthquake bolting as a repair- they think of it as an upgrade. I haven’t heard of any agent getting a seller concession for earthquake bolting- but I am sure it could have happened.
Items within the house that are at the end of their useful life may be included in your request for repairs. Inspections reveal the water heater is 20 years old- and all of the pipes are heavily corroded. Certainly this water heater is just waiting to go. The average useful life for a water heater is 12 years. This to me would be a clear request for repair. However- what if the 40 gallon water heater was 14 year old and in good shape? The buyer may be ok with the condition of the water heater, and if it breaks, be fine with the $1,200 replacement cost of getting a new one. That is the negotiation that goes back and forth. Anything at the end of its useful life should be included in the request for repair if your assumption was that all systems in the house were in good working order when writing offer. Anything that’s broken or not functional is automatic to a request for repairs in a “move in ready” residential sale. Not sure what to do with all the information in the inspection reports? Ask your agent- they will help guide you.
Request For Repairs Form
Once you have an accepted offer, your inspection contingency begins. The standard inspection contingency is 17 days, though you can make it shorter or longer. I would be shooting to have all the inspections completed by the 10 to 12 day mark- so that you have adequate time to read and evaluate the reports, and also give yourself some time should you need to make a request for repairs. Once the inspection contingency is up, the seller may issue a notice for buyer to perform (NBP) giving the buyer two days to comply or the seller has the right to cancel the escrow. In the sellers NBP, they will be asking for Contingency Removal. Contingency removal is active in California- that means that once the contingency period has expired- contingency are NOT removed. Contingencies are only removed when contingency removal form is delivered to seller or the seller’s agent.
Don’t worry- the seller probably won’t want to send you a NBP the moment your inspection contingency expires. This is because most escrow periods are quite a bit longer (30-45 days) than the contingency period- so if you are running behind schedule with the contingency removal, that won’t affect the close date. This is an important transaction, and if you as the buyer have been diligent to schedule inspections, and have shared the reports with the seller to show them findings from the report that require further investigation- the seller will be flexible in giving you more time. As long as the deal is moving forward- most sellers will give you a few grace days to either allow you to finish inspections or to deliver a request for repairs.
The process for request for repairs works very similar to the counter offer process for purchase agreement. You may ask for the seller to repair items, or provide a credit to closing costs/purchase price reduction in lieu of repairs:
The seller may accept your request, reject it, or modify it:
In new construction and remodel properties where the seller is also a licensed contractor- creating a punchlist is often advisable, since they will have the expertise to easily make repairs, and they are selling a product with the expectation of excellent condition.