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April Crowder, Real Estate Pro in Charlotte, NC

I have a listing under contract that has a repaired concrete slab. Buyer wants to walk because the floors aren't level so he thinks it's not

Asked by April Crowder, Charlotte, NC Mon Jan 25, 2010

structurally sound. The buyer's agent thinks that even if it is structurally sound, that he should be able to include the leveling of the floor and the straightening of one door frame in his cost of repair contingency. I say those are cosmetic issues. Anyone have experience with anything like this?

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April hello again!

This slant doesn't seem to be such a minor one. If it's difficult, as you said, to latch the front door....that's a noticeable defect, whether it's structural or not - it's a defect that many would be uncomfortable with. The sellers need to do whatever they can to reassure this buyer, or the next buyer, that at the very least, the slant won't get worse, and it's nothing to fear.

I don't want to waste too much space here discussing my personal similar stories, so if you want to call me, pease do.
Quickly -
1. I showed a slab home that didn't have a slant, but it did have a bump (!) in the middle of one of the rooms ..same issues were brought up.....seller "claimed" it wasn't structural, but there was nothing in writing to prove that point. My buyers passed on it (it wasn't my listing)...and it sat and sat............to be honest , the listing expired, and I think they rented it out ..not quite sure what the status is, as this was over a year ago.

2. I did have a personal experience with a sloping living room floor in a bilevel home, which was built on a slab....this WAS my listing.......this is the story I will be happy to share with you , if you are interested. Cut to the chase - It eventially involved a lawsuit, even though the buyers knew about the slope in the floor following the home inspection, in which the inspector said it "was nothing to worry about".....and they could have walked away at that point, but didn't. Long story............(by the way - I learned, that E&Q insurance has a sizeable deductible (in my case $5000) that kicks in once the papers are filed and the attorneys are called...............and that the agent must share in paying it!). Even though it was a frivolous lawsut, it cost me!
Lawsuits don't have to be justified for the deductible to be paid. As I said...long story.

The moral of the story is, however...........you MUST get your sellers to realize how important it is to have some official verification of structural soundness..............they must now at least disclose this slant in writing in their disclosure (I assume you have one)....and to just acknowledge there "is a slant in the floor" without any more information will be a turn off for buyers.

I do not think the onus is on a future buyer to prove it is a structural concern or not.......it is the seller's responsibility, since they are aware of it, to assure a buyer it isn't a structural concern. That's just my opinion.

The more the sellers make you reaffirm this sale is AS IS, with a known defect and no clarification, the more they will be scaring away potential buyers. If nothing else, they will be affecting the value (ie - price they ultimately get) on the home in a negative way.
The irony is...........they will probably lose more money than the cost of actually bringing an expert in!

Since the slant is obvious and known - the proverbial can of worms has already been opened. They need to deal with it.

Hope this has helped...and as I said, please feel free to give me a call or email me for more information.

Good luck!
Debbie Rose
Prudential NJ Properties
email: Debbie.Rose@PrudentialNewJersey.com
cell (973) 715-3131
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 26, 2010
Debbie is right on point, and remember next time when you're looking at offers on a home that your client is selling "as is" to take into consideration that the offer shouldn't have a cost of repair contingency. It's just a cheap "out" for the buyer, and all the buyer has to do to walk away is get a contractor that he knows to say thet it will cost X amount to repair whatever he deems a problem.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 26, 2010
Congratulations April - glad it all worked out in the end!

I'm not surprised that it took a new buyer to come along to get it closed, but at least everything was out in the open......and everyone is happy in the end - especially you!

All the best!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 23, 2010
I just wanted to let everyone know that this home closed a few weeks ago. A second buyer came along and he had a structural inspection done. I was told by the buyer's agent that total repairs from the home inspection and the structural inspection would total about $10,000 but the buyer agreed to close "as is" and he did. Thanks to everyone for their advice!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 23, 2010
April, our contract reads in the property inspection section that all of the items listed shall "not not be in need of immediate repair." If the problem has been repaired according to best practice then I think the seller is in the clear and the resposibility is on the buyer to have an "expert" or "licensed" person come and explain why it is not.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010
April,

Interesting thread. in NC you said "In NC, you do not have to disclose something if it has been repaired, which it had."

In most states, one need not declare a repair if it's repaired using best practices, up to building code, or was performed with a permit.

It seems like the issue here, is that one the three tenants above may have been violated. That is to say, in this particular repair, "best practices" may not have been used.

It's a fairly simple issue, I'll grant you that. But, it's a fairly large repair. Whenever a buyer hears the words, foundation, roof, water leak, they tend to jump 10-feet back.

I can imagine that you were trying to do the right thing, but in this case it appears the buyer would have preferred the issue to be disclosed, and in the end it sounds like disclosing it at first light would have made the seller's life easier too.

Either way, I think you're on the right track in getting the seller to pay for the issue of complaint.

But, my personal feeling is that one should always put ethics, and to an extent the satisfaction of the buyer AND the seller, in front of one's commission. In doing so, you can eliminate these situations, before they're even situations.

Again, I'm simply rephrasing the above for my own benefit, and I'm not insinuating you did not put their best interests at hand. It sounds like you had a difficult seller, and we all know those situations can be challenging.

So, at this point, see if you can continue making everything right. In the future, to avoid the stress and hassle, insist that material issues be disclosed and if your seller refuses to do so, inform them that you have a duty to do so during your Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure (AVID).

Best,
Eric M. Abrams
CA DRE # R01862927
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 27, 2010
Don, I wasn't try to put anything over on the buyer. The buyer could see and feel the floors for himself as well as the one crooked door frame. In NC, you do not have to disclose something if it has been repaired, which it had. The seller paid $20,000 for the repair. A structural engineer I talked to said the seller repaired it using the best method. I did recommend to the seller to disclose the repair anyway which he did not want to do. At this point, I have forwarded all of the repair paperwork to the buyer's agent. The 10 day out I was talking about is usually on foreclosure homes. Regular resales are hardly ever sold "as is" and I prefer a cost of repair contingency on all of my listings, even when selling "as is".
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 27, 2010
April, I think I discovered your real problem...

"I didn't want the buyer to have that out so that is why I allowed the cost of repair contingency."

I didn't want the buyer to have that out <--- is NEVER a good way to approach a sale. You should instead disclose, show, and allow to be known. Buyers get really ticked off of they even sniff anything is trying to be pulled on them.

Make sure you give buyers a way out IF there is a problem they find one way or another. It saves everyone involved a lot of grief.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 26, 2010
Thanks for all your comments. The slab was off 2 to 3 inches in places before he repaired it. Most homes sold in "as is" condition have a 10 day right to inspect and right to walk away fro any reason by notifying the listing agent in writing. I didn't want the buyer to have that out so that is why I allowed the cost of repair contingency. I am going to try very hard to get the seller to pay for the structural engineer. I know if he doesn't, that every buyer will assume there is a problem and he will end up selling it for $30,000 to $40,000 less than the current sales price. I just hope I can do it! Everyone wish me good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 26, 2010
PS .........at the very least.............the seller should have a written estimate of how much it will take to correct the problem so that a future buyer will know what the cost is to make the home level

You referred to it as a "repaired" concrete slab......obviously the repair didn't entirely correct the problem
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 26, 2010
Don, I know you are right that it is the buyer's responsibility to hire the structural engineer but the agent has said the buyer doesn't want to spend any more money on a house that he may walk away from. This home is a concrete slab and you can feel the slope in three places. It is about 1/2" There are no trip hazards, etc. The front door deadbolt is hard to latch which at one of the slope areas. I asked this question because I never had an issue with a concrete slab and wondered if anyone else had a sloping concrete floor and what happened. I hope that I can convince the seller to pay for the engineer if this deal falls apart.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 26, 2010
April - it sounds like the buyer wants out, and nothing will convince him to stay in the deal. I had a first time buyer walk after noticing some hairline cracks in the basement floor - he didn't even wait to have the inspection. There's nothing you can do when a buyer gets scared (often they have a "helpful" family member advising them!). Whether the doorframe issue is structural or cosmetic won't change his mind.
You can argue whether the buyer has the right to walk or not.......but in the end, why drag this out if you have an unwilling buyer.
Best to move on, and put the house back on the market. Any legal position you have in regard to the earnest money can be takien up with an attorney.

Your bigger issue is that, based on what you said, the sellers won't pay to bring in a structural engineer. That's a big mistake on their part.
Tell then that unless they do... and they can certify that the foundation is sound..... this home will remaIn in the family, and will be passed down to future generations..... as it won't sell now!

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 25, 2010
April, an uneven floor could be structurally sounds and still be seen as a danger. It could cause tripping, falling, and being hurt.

I walked through a house once that I was not sure I would be able to go through as the floor was so far from straight. Some people are very sensitive to things being off kilter. It could be your buyer is not comfortable walking on something that feels dangerous to them.

I know a house that was built well over a century ago. It has floors that are not level. But they do have a constant slope. The house was literally built wrong. Probably to much whiskey at the house raising.

Concrete should always be flat, any other condition would scare me and make me walk away.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 25, 2010
If the floor can be walked on (i.e. without trip hazards like large cracks) and the door can close properly, then they are functioning as intended. If they are concerned about something not being structurally sound, then they have the right during the inspection timeframe to hire whatever inspectors they wish to (at their expense) to evaluate structural soundness. Unless an inspector comes back during that time frame and says it's not sound, then they can't ask for it. It's not your seller's responsibility to prove it is sound, it is the buyer's responsibility to show that it is not.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 25, 2010
Home is being sold "as is" condition with a cost of repair contingency. The one door frame is crooked and it was that way before the slab was repaired. Buyer could see that. He is a first time buyer and of course scared but this house is at an excellent price. I think he will walk no matter what. I also think we will need a structural engineer to prove it's okay but the seller does not want to pay for it as this is an estate sale.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 25, 2010
I think fixing the door frame would fall under repairs if it is functioning as intended and is not closing properly, etc. If it is functioning... then they probably are just pushing to get out of the contract. I'd say the floor is cosmetic... but if you want to hold on to this buyer, say you will fix it and get a price that is under their cost of repair contingency.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 25, 2010
I guess the biggest question is did they request the repairs be made during repair negotiations, and at what stage of the transaction are you at? If they did request that the slab be leveled out, then your client has the option to either level it, straighten the door frame, or not sell to this buyer. If they didn't request any modifications to the slab by the due diligence date of the repair request and agreement, then they are assumed to accept the slab in it's then existing condition. The fact that there is a door frame that needs to be starightened out, leads one to believe that the slab has caused some structural issues. The best thing is to have a licensed general contractor come in and take a look at it. At this point, they obviously still don't want the house, your seller can dispute and try and hold the earnest money for breach, or move on and put the property back on the market. If the condition of the slab is not a structural issue, he can move forward with disputing the earnest money. Either way it sounds like you can either let a judge decide(eventually) or walk away and sell the property to someone else. There's going to be time and money involved with both, but probably not as much of either with the latter choice.
Web Reference: http://www.sandhillsnc.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 25, 2010
No house is perfect. He just doesn't want the house.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 25, 2010
Yes, I have and my sellers actually hired a structural engineer. It turned out to be normal settling due to the frost and thawing that we have in our state. Therefore, it did not meet the required definition of the offer, which states: "...structural inadequacies which if not repaired will significantly shorten the expected normal life of the property. " These vary from state to state, so you may want to check with your individual laws.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 25, 2010
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