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DFWREAdvisors Group Blog

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Will the House Pass Inspection During A Sale?

If you are buying or selling a home, especially in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a home inspection is an almost inevitable part of the process.  If it is not, it should be!  It is a step that can either smooth the path to a successful sale or bring unexpected hurdles.


Knowing the most common issues uncovered during home inspections and understanding the typical outcomes of post-inspection negotiations can help you prepare effectively.

In this blog post we explore the common problems identified during home inspections in this region and discuss how they usually affect the negotiation process.


Common Problems Identified


1.     Foundation Issues:  Due to the expansive clay soils prevalent in North Texas, foundation problems are a frequent find.  Signs of foundation distress include cracks in walls, floors, and the foundation itself.  Repairing foundation issues can be costly, and they often become a significant negotiation point.  Sellers may need to either fix the problems and offer a transferrable warranty or offer a price reduction.


2.    Roof Damage:  Given the harsh weather conditions in Texas, including hail and high winds, roof damage is common.  Missing shingles or signs of leaking can raise red flags during inspections.  Roof repairs or replacements can be expensive, but they are crucial for closing a deal.  They often become lender required repairs. Sellers often end up sharing the cost with buyers or crediting them the repair amount.


3.    Outdated Electrical Systems:  Older homes, in particular, might have outdated or inadequate electrical systems that do not meet current safety standards.  Issues such as ungrounded outlets, old wiring, and overloaded breaker boxes need addressing to pass inspection.  Sellers typically take responsibility for making these safety-critical upgrades.


4.    Plumbing Problems:  Plumbing issues, especially in older homes, can include everything from leaky faucets to outdated piping materials like galvanized steel.  Significant plumbing repairs might be required, and these are usually negotiated for the seller to fix or compensation to the buyer.


5.    Poor Insulation and Ventilation in the Attic:  Inadequate attic insulation and poor ventilation can lead to higher energy costs and affect the HVAC system's efficiency.  It is a less dramatic problem but still important.  Sellers may agree to add insulation or make minor repairs as part of the negotiation.


6.    HVAC Issues:  In the sweltering Dallas-Fort Worth summers, a fully functional HVAC system is crucial.  Problems with older or poorly maintained units often come up during inspections.  Sellers frequently repair or replace the HVAC systems or in some cases provide a transferrable home warranty that covers future repairs.


7.    Water Damage and Mold:  Water damage and subsequent mold growth can be a dealbreaker.  These issues are typically found in areas with poor drainage or leaking roofs and/or walls.  Remediation can be costly, and sellers generally handle these repairs to ensure a sale.


8.   Insect and Pest Infestations:  Termites and other pest infestations are not uncommon in the area.  If the inspection uncovers such problems, it is usually up to the seller to resolve the issue before closing, including treatments and sometimes repairs to damage caused by the pests.


9.    Poor Overall Maintenance (Deferred Maintenance):  General wear and tear that suggests poor maintenance can be a red flag for potential buyers, signaling potential hidden issues.  Sellers might need to perform a variety of small repairs or provide a credit to motivate the buyer to proceed with the deal.


10.Non-Compliance with Current Building Codes:  Older homes might not comply with current building standards and codes, particularly concerning safety issues like railing heights and stair specifications.  These are typically expected to be brought up to code by the seller.  However, unless the items are lender required repairs, they may be negotiated and/or left for the buyer to handle after the sale.


Negotiating Repairs and Responsibilities


Once inspection issues are identified, the real negotiations begin.  The outcome often depends on the local real estate market conditions, and in some cases lender requirements.  In a seller's market, the seller may have more leverage to refuse extensive repairs or offer minimal concessions.  Conversely, in a buyer’s market, the buyer might demand repairs or price reductions.


The negotiation of who pays for what usually ends in one of three ways:


1) Seller repairs:  The seller agrees to fix specific issues before closing.

2) Credit to the buyer:  The seller gives the buyer a credit to cover repair costs, allowing the buyer to handle the repairs post-purchase.

3) Price reduction:  The home price is reduced to account for the cost of needed repairs.


One More Less Common Problem


Old Sewer Lines


Old sewer lines can be a significant concern for potential homebuyers and sellers in older neighborhoods.  Many of these homes were built with sewer pipes made from materials that deteriorate over time, such as clay or cast iron, which are prone to breaking, collapsing, or becoming obstructed by tree roots.  Addressing issues with these old sewer lines can be a substantial and costly endeavor, so it is important for both buyers and sellers to understand the process of discovering, fixing, and negotiating the costs of repairs during a home sale.


Discovery Process


The discovery of old or damaged sewer lines does not always occur during a home inspection.  A standard home inspection does not always include a thorough check of the sewer lines.  Therefore, it is advisable for sellers and/or potential buyers to contract for a specific sewer line inspection, particularly if the home is over 50 years old.


This type of inspection involves the use of a camera that is inserted into the sewer pipe and pushed through to the connection with the city's main sewer line.  This camera provides a video feed that allows an inspector to visually identify any damage, blockages, or wear and tear.


One note of caution, the process is invasive, and the insertion of the camera line can potentially cause damage.  It is advisable for the two parties to agree upfront in writing what happens and who is responsible in the event of such damage.


Repair Process


If a problem is identified during the sewer scope inspection, the next step is to determine the best method for repair.  There are two main approaches:


Traditional Repair Method:  This involves digging up the old pipes and replacing them with new ones.  It can be quite invasive and destructive to the property, as it may require tearing up lawns, driveways, and sometimes even part of the street.  This method is generally more disruptive and more expensive but might be necessary if the damage is extensive.


Trenchless Repair Methods:  These are less invasive options that include pipe lining and pipe bursting.  Pipe lining involves inserting a new pipe liner inside the existing pipe, which is then inflated and cured to form a "pipe within a pipe."  Pipe bursting replaces the old pipe by breaking it apart as a new one is pulled through it from one access point to another.  These methods are typically faster and less disruptive but can still be quite costly.


Who Pays for these Repairs?


The negotiation over who pays for repairing or replacing old sewer lines can vary and largely depends on the current housing market dynamics (buyer's market vs. seller's market), the overall condition of the property, and how eager both parties are to close the deal. Here are four ways these repairs can be resolved.


Seller Repairs:  If the market is competitive or the seller is motivated to sell quickly, they might choose to undertake the repairs themselves to keep the sale on track.  This is often seen as a good investment to avoid losing a sale or having to reduce the home’s price significantly.


Credit to the Buyer:  Sellers may offer a credit to the buyers at closing, allowing the buyers to manage the repairs themselves post-purchase.  This can be appealing to buyers who want to ensure the repairs are done to their satisfaction.


Price Reduction:  The seller might agree to reduce the price of the home to account for the estimated repair costs.  This allows the buyer to take immediate possession of the home and use the savings from the purchase price to address the sewer line issues.


As-Is Sale:  In some cases, particularly in a strong seller's market or when a property is likely to attract investors or developers, a home may be sold "as-is" with the buyer accepting all the risks associated with the existing sewer lines.


In summary, the issue of old sewer lines in homes is a significant one, given the age of some properties in the area.  Both sellers and buyers need to be aware of the potential for this issue, and they should be prepared to address it either through preemptive inspection and repair or through careful negotiation about who will bear the costs of necessary repairs.


Final Thoughts on Home Inspections


A successful home sale often hinges on how well a seller and/or buyer prepares for the home inspection and navigates the subsequent negotiations.

Being a proactive seller addressing known issues can make the home more attractive and the selling process smoother.

Being an informed buyer makes for fewer surprises and unexpected costs for the buyer after the sale.

Remember, transparency, and willingness to negotiate are key in achieving a favorable outcome for both sellers and buyers, especially in the dynamic Dallas-Fort Worth real estate market.


As stated earlier, a home inspection can significantly influence the process and outcome of a home sale.  This blog post offered covered the common problems discovered during home inspections. It further explored the typical negotiation outcomes following the identification of these issues.  The resolution often depends on current market conditions and whether it leans towards a buyer's or seller's market.


Common solutions include the seller agreeing to undertake necessary repairs, offering a credit to the buyer to cover repair costs, reducing the home's sale price to reflect the cost of repairs, or selling the house "as-is", particularly in cases where the seller maintains a stronger negotiating position.

Each scenario reflects a strategic decision based on the severity of the issues identified, the estimated cost of repairs, and the eagerness of both parties to close the deal.

Understanding these factors can help sellers prepare their homes for inspection and help sellers and buyers as well navigate post-inspection negotiations more effectively.

If you are a buyer or seller, and want to know more or are preparing to buy or sell, let's connect. We can help, and would be honored to assist you.


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