How to Save a Sale

Everyone involved in a real estate transaction wants the deal to go through – preferably with as few speed bumps as possible. There are many factors that affect the facilitation of a sale – financing, restricted inventory, contingencies on other sales and a plethora of other possible points of contention. All of these are in addition to the potential of getting stuck in a traffic jam if issues are discovered during the inspections phase.

It should be known that there are very few, if any, perfect homes. Houses built today are complicated systems that need to work together all of the time in order to be effective. When the house is properly constructed and maintained through the life of the home, it is reasonable that few issues should arise. Unfortunately, all of these homes are both built and maintained by error-prone humans. Problems typically come to light during the inspections phase of the sale, some of which can be quite costly to remedy. Welcome to the adversarial negotiation. As inspectors of hidden problems, we have seen our fair share of situations like this, and we have noted several key elements of successfully handled negotiations.

When faced with this type of situation, the first step necessary to keep things moving in the right direction is to understand the issue(s) to be addressed. Understanding a problem that is clearly visible (i.e., there’s a hole in the roof) is easy for all to identify, confirm and agree on. Unfortunately, large expensive repairs tend to involve wall cavities and the underlying framing structure – elements that are never visible without destructive investigation. Sellers don’t want to believe that the walls they have been living within are damaged when they can’t see signs of an issue. Buyers are looking at making a very large investment and aren’t likely to disagree with the professional inspector they hired. Fully understanding the problem inside and out (pun intended) is crucial. As a REALTOR, it is important that you participate in the inspections process as much as possible. This means asking the inspector the right questions – the ones you know your clients are going to ask you when the report is issued.

Verification of the results is also an opportunity to bring all parties together to help limit misinterpretation and premature conclusions. Depending on the issues at hand, it might mean bringing in an expert that both sides agree with to provide a second opinion. We highly recommend second opinions, especially when the costs of repairs are likely to be high.

Once the results are verified, the next step is to request that the inspector develop a scope of repairs based on the results of the inspection. Doing this before sending the job out for bid by contractors will limit the variances between estimates and make evaluating them much easier. By allowing them to bid on the scope of repairs and not on each individual interpretation of the inspection report, you can expect to be able to compare apples to apples.

The contractor selection is usually the last item of contention. Sellers typically focus on price, while buyers, who will be living in the end product, are usually more concerned about the quality of the work. If the seller is holding the reigns and selects a contractor who lacks the proper credentials – a friend of the family or an inexperienced contractor – the deal could go south in a hurry.

Reaching an amicable solution in this arena can be expedited by recommending or reaching out to only knowledgeable, experienced, reputable contractors for the estimates. The contractor should be licensed, insured and able to provide confirmable references, including contact information for their last three jobs completed. If you have used a scope of repairs to obtain estimates, the parties should have comparable estimates to choose from, limiting either party from feeling like the decision is completely out of their hands.

Receiving less-than-desirable results doesn’t mean the deal is dead in the water. We have watched agents save the sale by maintaining control of the situation using these tactics. Understanding the problem, verifying the findings, developing a scope of repairs before putting the work out for bids and only inviting reputable contractors to bid on the project – this is how you keep the deal on the high road to its final destination.

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Moisture & Structural Assessments in Residential and Commercial Properties


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Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding Twin Cities areas throughout
Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.



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