All About As-Is Offers
To make an "as-is offer" is to state that you, the buyer, will take the property in the condition it is in as of the date you make the offer, and will not ask the seller to do any work or repairs to the home. You can see why these offers are so attractive to sellers; they love the idea of being able to mentally move on from this home to the next one as soon as they accept your offer. In the olden days, many states required that certain basic condition standards be met by every property sold, whether or not the buyer asked the seller to do any work: no broken windows, no termites, etc. Today, "as-is" is the default under the contract in many states; unless Buyer and Seller specifically agree that Seller will do something, the property will pass to Buyer in the same condition as when the contract was affirmed. Other states have remained old-school and maintain standards that the Seller will have to -- or is expected to -- meet prior to closing. Before you spend time agonizing over whether to make an as-is offer, check in with your Realtor. In some markets, sellers expect to have to complete some repairs, so the issue is, well, a non-issue!
If You're Thinking of Making an As-Is Offer
The ideal property to offer to take in as-is condition is one where:
- The property is new or appears to be well-maintained;
- The seller has prepared their property-related disclosures and shared them with you before your offer (e.g., in a binder at the property or online); and
- The seller has had a pest or "termite" inspection (also known as a Wood Destroying Organism inspection or WDO for short), and/or property inspections prior to listing the home, has given you the opportunity to read the reports, and you feel comfortable taking on the responsibility for the repairs recommended therein.
Whether or not all the above-listed ducks are in a row, you'll need to weigh the pros and cons of making an as-is offer on a property -- and situation -- specific basis. Do you have cash to do repairs later? Do you not want the seller to do repairs so you can hire the contractors and choose the supplies yourself? Depending on the severity of needed repairs, are you okay with living in the home and taking care of those gradually over time? Or are you simply unable or unwilling to either have repairs done or live with items needing repair -- period?
If you do make an as-is offer, make sure to have your inspections as early as possible and get repair cost estimates prior to removing your contingencies. This way you don't get yourself in over your head, and you will know whether or not you need to back out or renegotiate with the seller.
Making an as-is offer is essentially your promise that you won't ask the seller to do any more work to the property. That promise is not set in stone, though, because most sellers would prefer to close the deal with you than to put the property back on the market if major hidden repairs come to light after your inspections. However, you shouldn't make an as-is offer with the intention to approach the seller and ask for repairs or credits later. Only make one if you're prepared to handle all obvious needed repairs and some degree of non-obvious repairs that your inspectors might uncover.
If you know from the first moment you see the place that you are planning to ask the seller to fix things or that you are unwilling to take the property if the inspectors find almost anything wrong, then don't make an as-is offer. (Realtors whose buyer-clients frequently make as-is offers, then try to renegotiate, lose credibility among listing agents. This sort of reputation makes it harder for their buyer clients' offers to be accepted in the future.) However, if you do make an as-is offer you also shouldn't hesitate, in the event the inspector comes back with truly major non-obvious and undisclosed items, to issue the ultimatum that you will either need Seller's help with the work (monetarily or otherwise), or to back out of the deal.