Every year, countless real estate transactions fall apart quickly after the buyer has performed his due diligence and had the property inspected. When the inspection reveals more to be wrong with the house than the buyer feels comfortable assuming as its new owner, exit strategies take root. A home inspection is not a pass or fail test, although it can sometimes feel that way. It does, however, open the door for renegotiation. Sellers are not obligated to fix anything. But, buyers can simply walk away if they perceive there to be too many issues.
BUYERS & SELLERS: LISTEN UP!
As the seller, you can protect yourself from “surprises” by getting a pre-listing inspection. This will reveal areas of concern which an interested buyer might later also find concerning, and all of this is done before your home ever goes to market. This gives you the opportunity to attend to several of the inspection findings, and disclose the rest. This is important because it helps to create realistic expectations on the part of the buyer in terms of what they “think” they are buying.
As the buyer, you should understand that no home is perfect. Even in brand new, never-lived-in homes there will be findings during an inspection. All resale homes have, by definition, been lived in and thus will reflect wear and tear in varying degrees. If the age of the home and its major components are concerning to a buyer, she should inquire about this before making an offer. The seller and his agent likely listed the home at a price to reflect known "defects," anyway. It is unrealistic for a buyer to assume a seller will turn over a house in perfect condition, or be agreeable to unreasonable, excessive, or expensive repair demands.
Repair requests are negotiable, just like any other aspect of the contract. And just like any negotiation, the best chance for a real estate transaction getting across the finish line is when both parties remain at the table and operate in good faith.