The Repair List: What to Fix, What to Leave, and When to Cut a Check

Your new home's price is negotiated, the contracts are signed, and the inspection is completed! Even if you kept your house in pristine condition, chances are there are a few things that showed up in the inspection that the buyer might ask you to fix. 

Should you call your handyman right away? Or is this time to push back on a few things? Here's when to fix it, when to leave it, and when to just cut a check. 

What to Fix

There are some things that are going to be a huge deal to the buyer.

If your A/C doesn't work, you live in the South, and closing is the beginning of June, that's kind of a big deal. The buyer would need to scramble to get it fixed for the house to even be livable, not to mention they'll be unsure what the cost is.

It can be a tough pill to swallow, but this is likely something that you're going to have to fix if you want the sale to go through. 

Negotiation Tip: If you're repairing something large, like the roof or the HVAC system, try asking the buyer if they'd be willing to split the cost with you.

What to Leave

There are some things on the repair list that are so small that it won't be hard for the seller to fix later. It's tempting to say you won't repair those items, but be cautious! If you're getting a full-price offer in a down market, it might be worth it to fix it just to make sure you don't lose that offer. 

The same is true for purely cosmetic things like scuffed paint or a small chip on the linoleum. 

Negotiation Tip: Offer a small painting allowance. This allows the buyer to paint whatever color they want, but doesn't put you on the hook for getting the paint job looking pristine before closing.

When to Cut a Check

Honestly, it's always a little easier to offer a repair allowance than it is to have everything fixed.

When you fix something, there's always a risk that it might turn into a bigger project than you expected once you get started. Offering a set price means you're off the hook if you start to fix the A/C and uncover an additional problem that the inspector missed. Or if you try to do it yourself and make the problem worse.

It's not just a win for the seller--it can be a win for the buyer, too. Offering the buyer the money gives them the option to fix things over time or do the work themselves to save a little cash, which means more in their bank account at the end of the day.

Remember, just because they ask for it doesn't mean you have to do it. Everything's a negotiation in a real estate sale, so talk to your real estate agent about what the best course of action is for your situation.

Do you have more questions about selling your home? Check out our seller's guide!