BUYER’S GUIDE: What to Do When your Dream Home Gets a Bad Inspection

You’ve been house hunting for weeks, maybe months, or in my case years (sorry, Barb!). You walk into what feels like the 192nd house. Updated kitchen — check. Finished basement — check. New washer and dryer — bonus! Could this be it? You make an offer — it’s accepted! Now there’s nothing to do but wait anxiously for the home inspection. When the day finally arrives, you feel a strange mix of excitement and dread. Then you get the not-so-great news.

What should you do if you get surprising inspection results that are not automatic deal-killers? Here’s some advice from the pros, just in time for National Home Inspection Month in April. 

1. Evaluate the report

Go over the inspection report in detail and ask yourself this question: do I really need to fix this right away or at all?

Often, homebuyers (especially first timers) find that the houses in their price range need a little work. As a result, the inspection reports can seem overwhelming at first glance. The key here is to determine if the issues cited are smaller, cosmetic things you can live with, or major issues that need to be dealt with immediately.

2. Collect at least three contractors’ bids for the repair(s) at issue

You’ll need this for your own information and to increase your credibility in your renegotiations with the seller. Ask your home inspector whether any of the repairs can be done over time or legally completed by an unlicensed handyman. You can reduce the costs of repair bids by sometimes 30 percent or 40 percent this way. (HGTV)

Also, make sure you obtain written quotes from any professionals who give you estimates for the work. Not only will they help you in your decision making process, they will come in very handy when it comes to negotiations with the seller.

3. Negotiate

Some buyers are under the impression that they are responsible for all repairs and the costs associated with them. This is not the case. With the help of a real estate agent, a savvy buyer can work the concerns into an amended offer price and/or contract.

There are two ways of doing this:

  • Price reduction. Ask for a reduction of the buying price so that you have money to make the repairs yourself upon moving in.
  • Put the repairs on the seller. Request that the repairs be made by a professional before the closing date.

4. Make sure the contract is clear

Should the seller agree to make repairs before closing, be sure that it states clearly in the contract that they are to be made by a licensed professional. The last thing you want is the homeowner making DIY-style repairs. This can lead to shoddy work that will most likely become problematic soon after you move in.

In addition, ask the seller to share the receipts and any guarantee paperwork related to the completed work, as well as the contact information for the contractor(s) they used. That way, if you have any questions, you know exactly who to call. (Fiscal Geek)

5. Take a final look

Once your renegotiation with the seller is done, assess whether you are satisfied with the condition of the property given the final terms of the purchase, including any credits, repairs or price reduction agreed to by the seller. This will direct your decision on whether to move forward with the deal or walk away.


Hate surprises? So do we. Run a Housefax Report to learn if the house you’re interested in has been in a fire, is located in a flood zone or is near other natural hazards. Know before you buy.