Home Buying in 91945>Question Details

Lora Tange, Home Buyer in San Diego, CA

Can a listing agent be held responsible for burglaries of a vacant short sale property?

Asked by Lora Tange, San Diego, CA Sun Mar 31, 2013

I signed a purchase agreement for a short sale property on 08/30/12. The seller relocated out of state in December, so the property has been vacant since January. During March, the property has been burglarized at least 4 times, so all kitchen appliances, water heater, air conditioners and other items were taken. These items were listed in the PA as conveying. The listing agent finally put a suitable lock on the gate to the property 2 days ago after all the theft has taken place. His only comment about the missing items is that he doesn't think the seller will pay for replacements. Isn't the listing agent responsible for the security of the property when the seller moves away?

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This probably isn't much help, but if you entered the agreement in August, I would guess that there has been significant appreciation since then that would cover the amount of the loss? I would still try to negotiate the seller taking care of it, but I suspect that is one of the reasons that you do not want to walk away...

Sinead McAllister-Clifford
Real Estate Broker/ Realtor®

McAllister Homes Real Estate
Residential Sales & Property Management
License 01366009
858-205-5215 CELL
brokermcallister@gmail.com EMAIL
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
I completely understand! I wish you the very best.
Flag Tue Apr 2, 2013
Appreciation is a good thing when I go to sell the house. I plan to live in the house for the rest of my life. The main reason I can't walk away is the lack of inventory that is affordable to me. I have been trying to buy for over 2 years. The competition in making offers is very challenging.
Flag Mon Apr 1, 2013
What others have stated is true.
For you, it is time to renegotiate with the seller.....which by the way is the bank.
I do hope you have tolerence for a little fix up, and sufficient cash to get the job done.
You may have just become the receipient of an opportunity that may prove extremely benefical.
Be aware, the property needs to be secured and access to the property is closely controlled and recorded, ohterwise calamity may continue.

Now if you are already getting a 'too good to be true' deal, proceed with caution.

This is where you need to be working with your real estate professional.
They will know the right stategy to pursue and the needed validation.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
Good advice from Joseph.

No, the listing agent isn't responsible. And I'm confident the agent is correct that the seller won't want to pay for replacements. However, if the seller has insurance on the property (which he should), some of the losses may be recoverable through that policy.

By the way, if there's anything of value left in the property, it'll be burglarized again. That includes copper pipes and copper wiring.

Hope that helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 31, 2013
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
No the listing agent is not responsible for maintaining the property, the owner is. Unless the owner has paid the listing agent to be the property manager and maintain the property. I suspect if you read your contract you will find that the owner is required to maintain the property in the same condition it was in when the contract was signed. As for the appliances, read your contract. Most appliances are considered personal property and not part of the home.

Since it is a short sale, the seller is getting nothing for the home, so they are unlikely to pay for appliances or repairs, at least ones that you will want. It may be possible to get the sellers bank to pay for some repairs, like the hot water heater or ACs, but I would not hold my breath. You have to decide if you still think the home is worth the purchase price.

Once again read your contract, the answer is there.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 31, 2013
If the listing broker and the seller signed the standard California Association of REALTORS(R) listing agreement, Section 11 says the broker has no liability for loss or damage to the property. But if the seller refuses to either replace the missing items or compensate you to your satisfaction, I recommend you consult an attorney before doing anything else. Issues regarding liability are legal in nature, not something a real estate broker or agent can advise you on.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 31, 2013
Would you be responsible for a burglary in your home? Of course not.

But, the seller should still have active homeowner's insurance on the property, so the insurance company should cover some, if not all of the loss.

Appliances that are built-in, like gas stoves are part of the property; those are not considered personal property. A refrigerator that plugs in is personal property. A built-in microwave is part of the property.

That being said, the seller is responsible to keep the property in the same condition as when you entered into contract. The seller has an obligation to replace the appliances, and they won't pay for it, so they need to contact their insurance company. As for personal property appliances, you'll need to negotiate on that probably, but you may end up buying one when you close. It's been 7 months, are you sure you're going to close?

Just know that prices are going up, so if you walk, you're going to be joining MANY buyers who feel that they're being priced out of the market while they've tried to get into a home over the last few months.

Whatever happens, good luck to you!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
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