What's My Franklin TN Home Worth?: Should Home Sellers Be Allowed to Complete Repairs?

Should Home Sellers Be Allowed to Complete Repairs?

Should Home Seller Be Allowed to Complete Repairs?Today, we received a repair request from the buyers of one of our listings. The house was built in 2010 so we knew there wouldn't be much, if anything, to do. As expected, the list consisted of a few handyman repairs; no plumbing, electrical, HVAC or roofing items.

Mr. Seller is quite handy and knew he could knock out these repairs in an hour or two. But wait...the buyer requested all repairs be completed by a licensed contractor.

I am all for licensed contractors completing roofing, HVAC, plumbing and electrical repairs but when a smoke detector needs to be replaced, it doesn't take a licensed contractor to do that. Additionally, handymen aren't licensed in Tennessee. That's right, a handyman is NOT required to be licensed in our state. Many times sellers are hiring handymen, thinking they are hiring a licensed contractor.

In Tennessee, if you want to hire a licensed handyman, he must either have a contractor's license or a home improvement license. Does it make sense to pay a licensed contractor who charges $150 an hour to change a smoke detector? Not to mention the fact that many licensed contractors with more advanced skills don't want to be doing handyman jobs.

What is the solution to this dilemma? Should handymen be required to become licensed? Or should home sellers be allowed to complete repairs? 

After contacting several licensed contractors, the sellers found that it would cost them about $500 - $750 to have this short list of items repaired. The contractors admitted that not knowing the scope of the work, they quoted the job high. They also said they were too busy to complete a job so small. They suggested calling a handyman.

We were back to our original dilemma. The buyer wanted a licensed contractor. Why pay a handyman who isn't licensed, to do a job the seller is perfectly capable of doing? Here's the solution we proposed: the sellers would complete all repairs. However, they would pay a home inspector $150 to re-inspect. This solution would assure the buyers that the work was completed and save the sellers about $350 to $600.

That solution seemed to satify the buyers and we're moving forward.

I will admit, not all sellers are qualified to do even the simplest of repairs. When you have someone who is very capable, it hardly makes sense to hire someone to do the work. Besides, I've seen some pretty shoddy work recently from hired handymen.

What are your thoughts? Should home sellers be allowed to complete repairs?

Tammie White, Managing Broker/Owner
Franklin Homes Realty LLC
Franklin, TN
(615) 495-0752 
This posting with the content written here and photographs displayed are the intellectual property and opinions of Tammie White of Franklin Homes Realty LLC. Any party who uses this material without the written permission of Tammie White is subject to copyright infringement and possible lawsuit.
Comment balloon 27 commentsTammie White, Broker • October 03 2015 10:56AM


Tammie White - A great solution to a problem that could be easily fixed. Using a third party to very repairs, whether they are done by a licensed, or not repair person is always a great way to protect all parties involved! 

Posted by Laura Allen, Lake Tahoe - Truckee Real Estate for Sale www.TahoeLauraLuxuryHomes.com, Tahoe Real Estate Agent Helping Buyers and Sellers (Coldwell Banker, Tahoe City, CA (530) 414-1260) about 3 years ago

That's a tough call. Because some people like to cut corners, especially if they know they're not going to have to deal with the problems down the road. My advice to my sellers is to do a good thorough check before it hits the market. If I were a buyer, I wouldn't want the home owner fixing anything. I would definitely want a 3rd party. Just me opinion. Great post!

Posted by Gilbert Real Estate Experts: Colby & Michele Myers (Orange Realty, LLC.) about 3 years ago

Well you certainly came up with a great solution for the unreasonable buyers.

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) about 3 years ago

YOur solution was great. It's ridiculous to have a contractor replace a light bulb or a screw somewhere. There has to be a reasonableness to this at the end of the day.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage | Charlotte, NC) about 3 years ago

Tammie, here in LA, more often than not we encourage sellers NOT to save the money and just credit the buyers a negotiated, reasonable amount. This eliminates the sellers' responsibility for the repairs and follow up calls if something breaks down again. It also protects against lawsuits. There's no denying that it's not the most frugal way to deal with repairs, but at least it places the onus on the buyer.

Posted by Gwen Banta (Sotheby's International Realty) about 3 years ago

It does sound like you came up with a creative solution to this particular situation.  But, wow, I can't believe your state doesn't require handymen to be licensed.  That to me is very dangerous and risky.  That generally means that the handmen don't have insurance or workman's comp.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 3 years ago

Tammie, I like your idea.  We tried the same thing but it did not float because the lender required they be done by a licensed person..  Rural Development.  So the seller overpaid to have two very simple things done.  

Posted by 1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) about 3 years ago

Tammie- this is another reminder that real estate is local!  You came up with a good solution!

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) about 3 years ago

                Thanks Tammie White for my ah-ha moment.

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) about 3 years ago

It is always a good idea for home owners to take care of repairs before listing a house.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) about 3 years ago

Good morning Tammie. This is a tough one. I think the homeowner should have completed the repairs before the inspection when this wouldn't have been an issue.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) about 3 years ago

Good morning, Tammie White good topic.... with our listings, we have licensed tradesmen do the work .....we never want to hear about any of the issues in the future.... our contacts are very reasonably priced and do the jobs in their off time....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) about 3 years ago

Great post!  Glad I didnt miss it thanks to Kathy's summary this week!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) about 3 years ago

I can understand the buyers wanting a professional doing the repairs, but I would have thought some exceptions could have been made for things like the smoke detector.

You came up with a great solution!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) about 3 years ago

Tammie - that was a good solution.  Why pay a licensed contractor of do something very simple.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) about 3 years ago

You supplied a creative solution.  Good job!

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) about 3 years ago

Good afternoon Tammie White,

Excellent solution to the problem. In Austin the buyer's inspector charges $50-$75 to reinspect so would be an even added advantage to the sellers here!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) about 3 years ago

It's all negotiable.  It says so in our contracts.  But why the sellers don't do the repairs themselves prior to listing is always beyond me.  I know what needs to be done in my house . . . they know too!  

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) about 3 years ago

Hello Tammie, great solution.  Some repairs are easy and if they aren't electrical or plumbing may easily be done by a home owner.  Some agents automatically request a licensed contractor do the work for liability reasons.  Allowing the buyer to reinspect is a great option and in this case the buyer was willing to pay for the additional reassurance.  Another story to share at your next listing appointment to encourage the seller to do a pre-inspection.

Posted by Shirley Coomer, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az (Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living) about 3 years ago

I just faced the same issue and here too, no licenses are required so you dont know how when hiring an contractor. My seller insisted and we came up with a similar plan. 

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) about 3 years ago

Tammie, sometimes things get complicated when they don't need to be.  You came up with a great solution.

Posted by Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES, Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living (Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch!) about 3 years ago

There are times when I receive repair request with the stipulation that they be completed by licensed workers. If they are simple repairs I usually put the buyers at ease by stating that if the items are not completed appropriately they will be found out on the re-inspection. 

Posted by Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert, Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com (Zion Realty) about 3 years ago

Recently I had sellers just say no.  No we will NOT hire a contractor to do these two minor things.  Like you, no contractor wanted the job and the buyers finally accepted the repairs.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) about 3 years ago

Tammie White that was a smart suggestion - saved everyone something. Money for sellers and peace of mind for buyers.

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) about 3 years ago

Tammie, for us, it's case-by-case. Sometimes a credit at closing, sometimes it HAS to be done before closing (i.e., smoke alarms, which in this state the seller HAS to take care of) and I have a ready list of reasonable contractors who will do the work correctly the first time.

Loved this topic and glad that Kathy Streib let us know about your interesting post!

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) about 3 years ago

That is very creative solution that should solve both buyer and seller needs.  Great job

Posted by Andrzej Niemyjski (Realty One Group) about 3 years ago

YES  home owners should be allowed to fix some items but not all depending on the category. A handyman can easily fix many of the simple items. We will request a 'licenced contractor' for electrical, plumbing, roof, hvac etc.  But all the simple stuff.....just about anybody can replace a smoke detector.  Excellent solution I might add - very smart!

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) about 3 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments