From “3-1-1” to “5-2-1”

The primary reason Buyers have a finite amount of time to do their home inspection is because Sellers want to know where they stand.

So, if the Buyer and Seller can’t agree on resolving any issues that come up, the Seller wants to be able to go back on the market, with a minimum of down time.

That was the original logic for a “3-1-1” timetable:  three days to do the inspection; one day for the Buyer to present the Seller with a written list of any issues to negotiate; and one more day to resolve them (or not).

Assuming the deal was signed on a weekend (as many are), that meant the Buyer’s Inspection Contingency was resolved (either way) by Friday — which meant the Seller could have the home back on the market that weekend in the event the deal went south.

Repair List vs. Inspection Addendum

Starting a couple years ago, the convention seems to have stretched out to 5-1-1 or even 5-2-1, at least in the Twin Cities.

My guess is that that had something to do with the . . shall we say, market turn; in a Buyer’s market, Buyers have more leverage, and one of the ways that leverage manifests itself is that Buyers ask for (and get) more time to inspect.

Too, modern inspections have become more rigorous and involved, with many Buyers opting to inspect for radon (my recommendation), main drains, etc, and scrutinizing homes ever more closely,

But another downside to taking longer to inspect is what can happen to Buyers’ mindset in the interval between inking a deal, and doing the inspection.

Too Much Down Time

After a week (or more) since looking at other “For Sale” homes, Buyers can forget that the home they chose was a bargain relative to its peers.

Instead, all they see are the blemishes — and a “To Do” list of repairs waiting for them, post-closing.

Too often, the Inspection negotiation then devolves into an argument over what belongs on the repair list, instead of focusing on any material defects the home inspector may have found (the proper scope of the Inspection Addendum).

The antidote?

A good start would be Buyers’ agents educating their clients (which in turn presumes that the agents themselves actually know what they’re doing — always a question mark in a field with no barriers to entry). 

However, stronger market conditions — which appear to be at hand in many Twin Cities neighborhoods — will also do wonders to shorten the inspection timetable.

P.S.:  One of my favorite Cheech & Chong (or was it The Simpsons?) moments is a character who frantically asks “Quick!  What’s the number for 9-1-1?” after their van is stolen.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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