What does it mean to sell a house ‘as is’?

June 27, 2014

My mother recently passed away. My brothers and I plan to sell her 1970s ranch house after we do some organizing and cleaning out. We want to sell it “as is,” but my question is, what does that mean? Do we need to get it inspected and make sure all is up to code?

We recently had the interior repainted in a neutral color and had it recarpeted. The kitchen, master bath and full basement will need updating. She has some nice furniture, and I believe I can stage it.

Thanks.

Selling a home in “as is” condition lets prospective buyers know that you’re not willing to do anything to put the house in better shape. It also telegraphs to buyers that there may indeed be problems with the home, which is why homes sold in “as is” condition are often sold at a discount compared with other homes in the neighborhood.

Often, when a home is inherited, the estate chooses to sell it in “as is” condition. That’s sometime the case because the heirs have not lived in the home for many years, if ever, and may not have even visited the home in recent memory. It would be impossible for the heirs to know what had been happening with the property — whether the owner had kept it up, or taken care of routine or extraordinary maintenance issues.

The bottom line is that you are not required to get the property inspected and you do not need to bring it up to code — unless you wind up selling it to someone who can get a loan from the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA requires that sellers bring the property up to code and that it pass an FHA inspection before the buyer can close on an FHA loan.

The fact that you had the interior repainted and recarpeted is a plus. If you can stage the home to make it look light, bright and spacious, that’s even better. Buyers will now be able to see clearly some of the strengths and weaknesses of the property, and that’s really all you can ask of a property that’s older and needs work.

One final note: Even though you’re going to advertise the property as selling in “as is” condition, that won’t prevent a buyer from making an offer and then later trying to negotiate some extra cash concessions after the inspector’s report comes in. If you want to preempt that conversation, you can make it clear from the get-go that it’s “buyer beware.” Just be prepared that if the inspector’s report comes back with some serious concerns, you might want to loosen the purse strings to make a deal.

Good luck.

Ilyce R. Glink ’s latest book is “Buy, Close, Move In! Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate lawyer. If you have questions, you can call Glink’s radio show
(800-972-8255) any Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact Glink and Tamkin through the Web site www.thinkglink.com.

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