In New York real estate purchases, the principle is “Caveat Emptor” (“Let the Buyer Beware”). The seller has no obligation to make any repairs and purchasers are expected to buy real property in “as is” condition. Oftentimes, the sellers’ only obligation is to deliver the property with the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems in working order and the roof free of leaks.
I cannot stress enough the importance of obtaining a home inspection by a licensed home inspector or engineer. I also recommend that you attend the inspection personally and have the inspector point out any concerns with the property. If you are buying a condo or co-op in an apartment building, there may still be a benefit to having an inspector inspect the entire building vs. just your unit. Note that if the building itself is not well-constructed; it can result in the necessity of making major repairs which might result in a monthly assessment or increased common charges. If you are obtaining an FHA Insured mortgage, ask the inspector if he or she sees any repair issues that might cause the FHA Inspector to require the repair be made prior to funding the loan so that you can avoid any potential issues prior to closing. The last thing you want is to have to argue with the seller just before closing about who should pay to install a GFCI electric outlet in the kitchen.
While most sellers take the position that the price accurately reflects the condition of the property, you may still have leverage to negotiate a repair or credit for a serious problem. If a repair will be necessary for an FHA mortgage loan approval, it must be negotiated as early as possible. However, if a repair issue is something that you will require and will not otherwise continue with the purchase, it might be best to negotiate a price reduction or sellers’ concession. Remember, the seller is moving and may not perform the repair with the same quality or care that you would.
Buying a home is something that many of us dream about and likely one of the most exciting times of your life. Make sure that you understand the home buying process and don’t let “Caveat Emptor” turn your dream into a nightmare. Please call our office for a free consultation and/or more information.