How to Negotiate Repairs After a Home Inspection

Most would-be buyers and sellers believe the real estate “deal” is negotiated at the signing of the contract.

Most would-be buyers and sellers believe the real estate “deal” is done at the signing of the contract.

In many cases, the deal-making and negotiations only start at the contract signing. Even in more competitive real estate markets, negotiations still happen once in escrow.

Issues typically arise after the home inspection, and those issues tend to result in another round of negotiations for credits or fixes.

Here are three buyer tips for negotiating repairs after a home inspection.

1. Ask for a credit for the work to be done

The sellers are on their way out. If the property is moving toward closing, they’re likely packing and dreaming of their life post-sale. The last thing they want to do is repair work on their old home. They may not approach the work with the same conscientiousness that you, as the new owner, would. They may not even treat the work as a high priority.

If you take a cash-back credit at close of escrow, you can use that money to complete the project yourself. Chances are you may do a better job than the seller, too.

Finally, if you get the credit, there will be less back-and-forth to confirm that the seller correctly made the repairs.

2. Think ‘big picture’

If you know you want to renovate a bathroom within a few years, then you likely won’t care that a little bit of its floor is damaged, that there’s a leaky faucet, or that the tiles need caulking. These things will get fixed during your future renovation.

However, the repairs are still up for negotiation. Asking the seller for a credit to fix these issues will help offset some of your closing costs.

3. Keep your plans to yourself

A good listing agent will walk the property inspection with you, your agent and the inspector. Revealing your comfort level with the home or your intentions, in the presence of the listing agent, could come back to haunt you in further discussions or negotiations.

If they sense you are uneasy with the inspection, they’ll be more willing to relay that to the seller. Conversely, if you spend two hours measuring the spaces and picking paint colors, you lose negotiation power.

If you mention you’re planning a gut renovation of the kitchen, the sellers will certainly hear about it. And they’re going to be less likely to offer you a credit back to repair some of the kitchen cabinets.

Eyes wide open

A word of caution: You should never complete the original contract assuming that you can and will negotiate the price down more after the inspection. It will come back to bite you, particularly in a competitive market.

If the property inspection comes back flawless, there’s nothing to negotiate. If you attempt to negotiate anyway — to recoup what you lost in the initial contract negotiations — you risk alienating the sellers and possibly giving them an incentive to move on to the next buyer.

You need to go into escrow with your eyes wide open. A real estate transaction is never a done deal until the money changes hands and the deed is transferred. Stay on your toes. Otherwise, you may risk losing out on further viable negotiation opportunities, which could lead to buyer’s remorse.

Shopping for a home? Check out our Home Buyers Guide for tips and resources.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published December 18, 2013.

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What Are the Different Types of Debt?

Debt may seem like something you want to avoid. But having some debt can actually be a good thing, provided you can comfortably afford to make your payments each month.

A good payment history shows lenders that you can be responsible with borrowed money, and it will make them feel better about lending to you when the time comes for you to make a big purchase, like a home.

But not all debt is created equal. Consumer debt can generally be broken down into two main categories: secured and unsecured. Those two categories can then be subdivided into installment and revolving debt.

Each type of debt is structured differently and can affect your credit score in a different way.

Here are some helpful things to know about the different types of debt, plus how you may want to prioritize paying down various balances you may already have accumulated.

Secured vs. Unsecured Debt

The first distinction between types of debt is whether it’s secured or unsecured. This indicates your level of liability in the event you fall behind on payments and go into default on the loan or credit card.

Secured Debt

Secured debt means you’ve offered some type of collateral or asset to the lender or creditor in exchange for the ability to borrow funds. If you go into default on the loan, the lender may seize the property or asset used to secure the debt.

The benefit is that you improve your odds for approval by offering collateral, and you may also receive a better interest rate compared to unsecured debt. But you also risk losing your asset. The lender is typically allowed to seize the asset securing the debt and sell it to offset the loan balance.

interest-only mortgages.

Rather than actually making that large payment at the end of the loan term, borrowers typically refinance the loan to a more traditional mortgage.

Installment loans can have either a fixed or adjustable interest rate. If your loan has a fixed rate, your payments should stay the same over your entire term, as long as you pay your bill on time.

A loan with an adjustable rate will change based on the index rate it’s attached to. Your loan terms tell you how frequently your interest rate will adjust.

Provided you make your payments on time, having a mortgage, student loan, or auto loan can often help your credit scores because it shows you’re a responsible borrower.

In addition, having some installment debt can help diversify your credit portfolio, which can also help your scores.

Revolving Debt

Unlike installment debt, revolving debt is an open line of credit. It gives you an amount of available credit that you can draw on and repay continually.

Both credit cards and lines of credit are common examples of revolving credit. Instead of getting a lump sum at one time (as you would with installment debt), you only use what you need–and you only pay interest on the amount you’ve drawn.

Your available credit decreases as you borrow funds, but it’s replenished once you pay off your balance.

Revolving debt can be unsecured, as in the instance of a credit card, or it can be secured, such as on a home equity line of credit.

debt payoff strategies that can help you prioritize your payments.

Paying off the Highest Interest Debt First

If your primary goal is to save money over the life of your loans,you may want to start by paying off your highest interest rate loan first, while making just the minimum payments on everything else.

You can then move on to the next highest and next highest until your debts are paid off. This payoff approach is often referred to as the “avalanche” approach.

Paying off the Debt with the Smallest Balance First

Paying down debt can feel never-ending, so it can be nice to feel like you’re making progress. By focusing on your smallest debts first (and paying the minimum on everything else), you can cross individual loans off your balance sheet, while quickly eliminating monthly payments from your budget.

Once paid off, you can then reroute those payments to make extra payments on larger loans, an approach often referred to as the “snowball” method.

Considering Debt Consolidation

If you don’t see a clear strategy for paying off your debt, you might consider taking out a single personal loan to consolidate your other balances.

If your credit score has increased, this may be a good way to decrease your overall interest rate. But at a minimum, this move can help streamline your payments.

Being Wary of Debt Settlement Companies

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt, you may look for a shortcut with a debt settlement company.

Debt settlement is a service typically offered by third-party companies that allows you to pay a lump sum that’s typically less than the amount you owe to resolve, or “settle,” your debt. These companies claim to reduce your debt by negotiating a settlement with your creditor.

Paying off a debt for less than you owe may sound great at first, but debt settlement can be risky.

For one reason, there is no guarantee that the debt settlement company will be able to successfully reach a settlement for all your debts–and you may be charged fees even if your whole debt isn’t settled.

Also, if you stop making payments on a debt, you can end up paying late fees or interest, and even face collection efforts or a lawsuit filed by a creditor or debt collector.

The Takeaway

At some point in your life you may be juggling one or more of these different kinds of debt–a student loan, a car loan, credit card debt, a mortgage, and a line of credit.

Understanding the various types of debts and maintaining a varied mix of loans (including secured, unsecured, installment, and revolving) can help you increase your creditworthiness.

You can also improve your credit by making all of your debt payments on time, and keeping balances on revolving credit (like credit cards) low.

To help make managing your debt (and all your other expenses) easier, you may want to consider getting a budgeting app, such as SoFi Relay.

SoFi Relay connects all of your counts on one mobile dashboard and allows you to track your spending, stay on top of debt payments, and also track your credit score (at no cost), with weekly updates so you’ll know when your score changes.

Get ahead of your debt with SoFi Relay.

SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.