Top 5 Inspection Deal Killers

When selling your home, negotiating the price is the first of a two-part negotiation. After you’re under contract, a buyer will have the property inspected, and will almost always try to negotiate repairs or a credit for repairs. While you can successfully negotiate repairs most of the time, there are common “deal killers” that will almost always sink a contract.


1. Foundation Problems

Central Texas soil has a lot of expansive clay, which means that foundation problems are common, and they usually range from $10k to $25k to repair. Homes built west of Mopac are usually in good shape because of the high limestone soil composition, but it’s relatively common to see homes built <1980 east of Mopac with foundation issues. East of I-35 is rife with foundation issues in any age home. It’s important to make sure that any foundation inspection is performed by a licensed engineer, and not just “a foundation specialist” who works for a repair company. Engineers will charge $300-$500 for an inspection, but will give their honest opinion. If a buyer attempts to have a foundation repair company inspect your home, you are contractually allowed to tell them they must bring a licensed expert in.

2. Failing Sewer Line/Plumbing

Homes that were built pre-1970 almost always have cast-iron sewer lines, and many built 1970-1980 have cast-iron systems. This is a terrible material, as cast-iron lines rust & deteriorate over time, and they are very hard to replace. Repairs/replacements are expensive and run in the $15k to $30k range. The good news (for sellers) is that most buyers & agents aren’t aware of the potential problem, so most buyers don’t have the sewer lines inspected. If your home is older, though, and the system is checked, there’s a 90% chance it will fail.

3. Older Roof

Roofs are built with either 20 year or 30 year shingles. When there is <10 years of life left in a roof, an inspector will generally call it out as “at the end of its useful life.” Roof prices have gone up over 30% due to Hurricane Harvey, so a roof replacement will run $8000 to $15k, depending on the size of your home. In our opinion, it’s not reasonable for a buyer to request a new roof, but we often have to give a partial credit if we want to make it past the inspection and the roof is close to a necessary replacement.

4. HVAC at the end of its Life

This is a similar situation to an older roof. HVAC systems (the air conditioner) generally last 15-20 years. When an inspector sees a system that is 10+ years old, they will typically call it out as “close to or at the end of its useful life.” This is a tricky situation because the HVAC typically works just fine, but it is a legitimate concern that it will need to be replaced sooner than later, which will run $5000 to $7000 per system. It’s a good idea to bring out an HVAC technician of your choosing to take a look at the system and give an objective opinion. It’s also smart to remind the buyer that they’re buying a resale home (not new).

5. Problematic Electrical

We can usually predict what electrical deficiencies an inspector will call out based on the age of the home. Homes built before 2007 usually don’t have Arc Fault Interrupters (AFIs) which sounds scary, but which aren’t a legitimate problem at all. Homes built in the 1990s or earlier are usually missing Ground Fault Interrupters (GFIs) which are an inexpensive fix. As homes get older, it’s common to see aluminum wiring and obsolete electrical panels, both of which are legitimate fire hazards. Some buyers will choose to walk away from a home due to these items, but we can usually successfully alleviate their concerns and keep the deal together. We do have long established relationships with trustworthy electricians who can provide honest opinions and estimates.

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