Buying an “As-Is” Home – Deal or No Deal?

“How to Find the Perfect Home for You (and Your Budget!)” Series

In this 8-part series, How to Find the Perfect Home for You (AND Your Budget!), you’ll learn how to find a home that is the right fit for your lifestyle, needs and, most importantly, your budget. It takes you through every single step and shows you how to avoid buyer’s remorse.  

For this last week, we examine what it means to deal with an “as-is” home and if it’s something you should pursue.

You’ve probably seen listings stating a home is being sold “as-is.” Does that mean it’s a dump and not worth seeing? Or does that mean it’s a fantastic deal?

It can be hard to tell since there can be vast differences in the conditions of “as-is” homes.

These homes can sometimes be a good deal budget-wise, especially if it gets you into a neighborhood you’ve been eyeing. However, some “as-is” homes come with more troublesome issues that could cost you more in the long run.

If you do make an offer on such a home, you need to take certain steps to protect yourself. Here’s how:

Understand What “As-Is” Means

Basically, “as-is” means the buyer will purchase the home from the seller in its current condition no matter what, since the seller has no intentions to do any repairs to the property before they sell it.

The home could be in pristine condition or it could be a major “fixer upper”. Smoke detectors are the only thing legally that need to be working properly!

Know What’s Expected from Sellers

Every jurisdiction has different laws when it comes to “as-is” homes, and every home and every seller has their own story. You’ll need to be more of a detective if you want a complete picture of an “as is” home.

Understand disclosure requirements for different jurisdictions. Some states require sellers to disclose any defects they know about in a home for sale. Illinois is one of these states – they require sellers to provide detailed disclosure documents. 

If sellers, however, know of something but didn’t disclose it, that is considered fraud and the sellers would be liable. It can be difficult to prove if sellers really were aware of any defects or questionable conditions, however, so you don’t want to rely on any recourse after the fact.

That’s why it is important to get any disclosures in writing to protect you in the long run from fraudulent information.

Be proactive and ask about any repair history. Did the seller have water damage at one time and made repairs, which now aren’t obvious to the buyer or the inspector? You want to know as much about this home as possible, especially any water damage history.

Take cautious steps if the seller is a nonoccupant.  If the property was owned by someone who didn’t live in the home recently—whether it was a landlord who had been renting out the property, an estate selling for a deceased family member, or even a bank in a foreclosure sale, they can’t disclose something they didn’t know about. So be more vigilant since there could be more wrong with the property than what has been disclosed. 

How to Protect Yourself

Take additional steps to ensure you understand the true condition of a home, both apparent and “hidden”. That way you’ll have a better idea of negotiating and budgeting for this home.

Make sure you get a qualified inspector. If you included a home inspection contingency in your offer (which you always should), you are given a window of time to get the house inspected.

The state of Illinois boiler-plate real estate contract includes a clause for a professional inspection. So unless you consciously decided to waive this, there is a good chance it’s already included. 

At the inspections, you’ll can get a thorough idea of the home’s condition. Does it have a leaky roof, any water damage, serious foundation issues, and pest or termite history?

The results will help you decide whether you will continue with the transaction or not. You can walk away if you aren’t comfortable with buying the home.

Get bids from contractors. If there are necessary repairs to be made, contact contractors during this contingency period to have a better idea of future costs.

These estimates could help you at the negotiating table to bring down the price of the home.

Take It, Or Leave It

Overall, an “as-is” home could be a good deal as long as you take the proper steps to protect yourself. It COULD be the “perfect” home for you – as long as you do your due diligence on your part and have a very thorough inspection by a professional.

You’ll also want to completely understand what you’re getting yourself into if it is a home that will need lots of work. Honestly ask yourself if you will have the time, the commitment, the patience, and the budget for undertaking any major repairs and making it more livable to your standards. Remember that things ALWAYS cost more and take more time than you expect.

All said, at the end of the day, you can “take it or leave it” and that’s the beauty of it. If you’re not comfortable, then you can always walk away if you’ve included the right contingencies in your offer with the seller.

I hope you have enjoyed this How to Find the Perfect Home for You and Your Budget series. Here’s a recap and link to the previous articles:

12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Step Foot in an Open House. Before you do anything else, you must evaluate your wants and needs for a home with some self-analysis.

Are You a House or Location Person? Buyers tend to lean one way or the other, and by knowing this you can streamline your home search either way.

The 3 Steps Most Buyers Skip When Buying a Home. You don’t want to mess up one of the biggest financial decisions of your life so don’t forget to do these 3 things.

The “Backwards” But Right Way to Finance Your First Home. My way of financing a home will lead you to the right home for your budget. 

How to Get Everything You Want in a Home. Here’s how you can learn to balance your budget, location, and criteria so that you do get the “perfect” home for you.

What YOU Need to Know About Buying for Schools. Every first-time buyer needs to decide if “good schools” is on their criteria list, or not. Here’s how.

If you are thinking about buying a home over the next few weeks, months or even a year or two from now, I’d love to help you. I want you to have everything you’ve ever wanted in a home and without blowing your budget. 🙂

Email me and let’s see what’s possible and how close we can get you to your own perfect home sweet home.

Hi, there!

I'm Mike and I love helping buyers discover what's really important in their forever home, then working to find that in Chicago's 

Northwest Suburbs. I also have a soft spot in my heart for teachers and love giving back to them whenever I can. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true.



NorthWest Suburbs

schedule your free consultation

or email me!

Hi there!

I'm Mike and I love helping buyers discover what's really important in their forever home, and working to find that in 

Chicago's Northwest Suburbs. I also have a soft spot in my heart for teachers and love giving back to them whenever I can. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true. 

schedule your free consultation




NW suburbs