There’s a lot that goes into researching and hiring a home inspector, but there’s a lot that comes after the home inspection too. You might find yourself asking “What do I do after the home inspection?”. Here’s the answer…

After the home inspection you should:

  1. Study the home inspection report
  2. Show the report to your realtor
  3. Decide what you want the seller to fix
  4. Begin negotiations by presenting the seller with your list of repair requests

In this article, we will go into each step in detail, so you’ll know exactly what to do after your home inspection.

Step 1: Study the home inspection report on your own

You should receive your home inspection report usually 24-48 hours after your inspection. It may seem like a long time, but the reports can be lengthy and include both written descriptions and comments as well as photos and possibly videos. It can take some time to put that kind of report together.

You should spend some time reading through and studying the report, so you fully understand what it’s saying. Some of the information can get pretty technical, as it should so it contains the necessary and accurate information. However, there needs to be a balance so everyday homeowners can understand what the report is saying. We are happy to answer any questions our clients have about the report, and I assume many other inspectors are too. After all, the whole point of the process is to gain information. And if you don’t understand what you’re reading then the information becomes useless to you. So gaining an accurate understanding of what is written in the report is very important.

So you should really study the report, take notes, and list any questions you may have. You can take your list of questions to your realtor and to the inspector. Your agent might have a different perspective on the information as they serve a different function in the home-buying process. 

It’s also a good idea to make a preliminary list of issues you want to be fixed.

If you’re waiting to receive your report, you can view a sample report by clicking here. That way, you’ll know what to expect.

Step 2: Show the report to your realtor

Why should you show the home inspection report to your realtor?

Your realtor will help you to prepare a list of items that you plan to ask the seller/owner to repair and to prepare a list of items you want to ask the owner/seller to replace.  Your realtor can help you better understand the home inspection report.

Using your home inspection report, your realtor can guide you to choose which items should be repaired or replaced based on your needs.  And then negotiate your list with the seller to your best advantage.

Realtors are typically experienced in reading home inspection reports.   If you and/or your realtor attended the home inspection, then you and/or your realtor probably asked the home inspector to identify the major issues and minor issues, if any. Listen carefully and ask questions and take notes at the home inspection to confirm your understanding of the home inspection findings.

Discuss your expectations with your realtor

This is where your agent’s expertise differs from that of a home inspector and comes in handy. He or she can help you interpret the findings based on what YOU are looking for. Different buyers want houses in different conditions. You may want the home to be move-in ready. So you may want all issues fixed by the seller/owner if possible.  Or, you might be an investor interested in renovating the home. So you would not expect all the issues to be fixed by the seller/owner.  Your expectations can dictate what issues you want to ask the seller/owner to repair or replace. Your agent can walk through the list of issues and help you determine if they should be a big deal to someone in your situation. 

Step 3: Decide what you want the seller to fix

From the home inspection report and listening to your needs, realtors are typically experienced in preparing a list of items you would like repaired and a list of items you would like replaced.  Keep in mind what is reasonable to ask the sellers to repair.

Realtors need to be great negotiators. Typically the realtor will guide you and help you anticipate which items the sellers will repair and/or replace. A realtor typically knows when to be tough and when to be patient.

You should also take into consideration any conditions of your mortgage or loan. Some loans will not go through if certain things like peeling paint or missing outlet covers are not fixed. This is obviously something you need to keep in mind and will be unique to each situation. Your agent should help you navigate these conditions, but don’t hesitate to ask your mortgage officer or even get some legal advice regarding the contract if you need it.

Click to view a video on how to create a repair request list

Step 4: Begin negotiations by presenting the seller with your list of repair requests

Negotiations are always tricky, so be sure your list of repair requests are reasonable. You don’t want to push too far and have them reject everything. You never know how someone is going to respond and often times people don’t have much experience in negotiation. Serious deals like this only occur occasionally in one’s life and the person on the other end of the negotiation may have not done this before. That’s why you have your agent by your side, though. So don’t hesitate to lean on their experience and let them guide you through the negotiation.

Some things are required to be fixed, like things that are safety issues. Moisture issues are another area where many states require repairs be made. After that repairs usually break down into two categories: major repairs and cosmetic issues. Most sellers are not willing to fix cosmetic issues, like paint color. Cosmetic issues are not usually required as a part of the home inspection, either, so be sure to make that note. Some inspectors will point out cosmetic issues even though they aren’t required to because they are in the information business. But take note that even the inspectors that do mention cosmetic issues are only bringing up the ones they come across, as they are not setting out to find those issues.

Major issues are things like roof repairs or HVAC issues. Older homes may have other major issues like wiring problems or bad pipes. These things are typical things that buyers ask sellers to fix. You might not always be granted those repairs by the seller, but it is a common and reasonable request. Depending on your timeline, you might negotiate a credit with the seller instead of a physical fix. That means they will adjust the price to cover the cost of the repair instead of hiring someone to make the fix.

What you do after the home inspection is important

If you’re right in the middle of this process, you are probably feeling the importance of this step. What you find out in the home inspection report can have real implications for the deal. It’s important to have a good understanding of what is a big deal and what is not. A lot of what goes into understanding those things can come down to the inspector and agent you choose. Some inspectors talk about small issues like they are the end of the world by playing up the consequences even if the fix is easy. While true, the consequences of small issues can sometimes be grave, if the fix is as easy as switching out an outlet cover, it might not be such a big deal. That’s why what you do with the information you get from an inspection is so important. Be sure to choose an inspector who knows how to explain things in a way that isn’t scary and that gives the appropriate weight to issues they find.