There are essentially 2 different kinds of negotiations that take place during an escrow. The first is the negotiation of the contract itself…price, terms, etc. The second is the negotiation of repairs.
A diligent Realtor will strongly encourage a home inspection. The inspector should be knowledgeable of construction, electrical, plumbing, heat and air, roof, etc. When he or she has completed their inspection, they will deliver to the Realtor and the buyer a written report of their findings. Some summarize their findings at the beginning of the report, the details and photos following. The terminology that the inspector uses can quite often determine how the buyer and agent reacts. The terminology I would like to discuss here is “health and safety issues”.
There may be findings that reflect issues with possible asbestos issues, knob and tube wiring, fire doors from the garage to the interior of the house, GFI’s in the kitchen and baths, unlined fireplaces. Sometimes the inspector refers to these items as “health and safety issues”…and they may be. However, asking for these items to be repairs because of this label is another story.
There is no place in the California Residential Purchase Agreement that says a seller must repair health and safety issues. In fact, the contract states that the buyers are purchasing the home in its present condition. Requesting repairs by justifying them as “health and safety issues” simply doesn’t apply and should not be used as an excuse.
Sellers should be informed that, even though the contract says that the buyers are purchasing the home as it sits, that they will probably receive a request for repairs. Buyers should be informed that even though the sellers are not obligated to do repairs as part of the contract, most sellers will agree to reasonable requests. That request just shouldn’t be in the guise of “health and safety issues”. This terminology doesn’t make it any more legitimate and Realtors should be knowledgeable enough to not need this terminology to ask for reasonable repairs.