Understand where you stand

The home inspection report is your guide to price negotiations

Inspectors usually turn a report around in one or two days. Once you have yours, read it over a few times to make sure you understand the issues that were flagged. Don’t hesitate to contact your inspector if you have questions or need clarifications! If the inspector mentioned specific issues that an expert should look at or test, you can ask the seller for more time to get those extra evaluations and estimates.

Negotiate on the big stuff

Focus on health, safety, and major home component problems

Your report will likely flag many issues, from the small to the major. Decide what you want to negotiate on, and what you can let go. Sellers are more likely to negotiate on safety problems, issues with major parts of the home—like the roof or HVAC system—or concerns about radon or termites. (If tests for those reveal problems, push the seller to remediate.) Trying to negotiate on minor concerns like squeaky floors and missing door locks may just antagonize the seller.

Be flexible

You have more options than just asking for a lower price

Dropping the sale price might feel like the ultimate win, but it’s not always the best strategy. Luckily, it’s also not the only tool in your negotiation toolkit. You could ask the sellers for credit on repair costs at closing. Or if they’ll pay for a professional to make needed repairs. But don’t expect them to pay for anything but the most basic work and products. If you want higher quality or specialty items, like eco-friendly materials or a certain brand name, you’ll need to specify them and be prepared to pay the price difference.

Be realistic

Negotiating success depends on the market

If your dream home is in a buyer’s market—an area where homeowners are anxious to sell—you might be able to negotiate thousands of dollars off for even minor defects. But in a seller’s market, you could be competing with a buyer who is willing to forego the process altogether. In that case, you’ll have to decide whether to back off your demands or walk away.

Don’t just put it away and forget about it

Use the report and your inspector’s expertise as resources

If you buy the home (congratulations!), your inspection report is a road map for repairs and maintenance. A typical report doesn’t just show you the problems, it also provides advice on how to work and maintain the major systems in your home. And don’t be shy about contacting the inspector, even long after you’ve moved in! Your home inspector may not charge anything extra to discuss what’s in the report, even years after the inspection.