Home Buying in 90501>Question Details

Bart, Home Buyer in 94538

How long can a Real-Estate Agent be held accountable?

Asked by Bart, 94538 Wed Nov 17, 2010

In California how long can a Real-estate agent be held accountable?
When I purchased my home, the Real Estate Agent represented the Buyer and the Seller.
During the escrow period the Termites inspection report revealed that the building had Termites and that the house and the garage needed to be tented and fumigated.
In the same report; it states that the seller also requested that the buildings be tented. At the time the seller was very ill and let the agent handle most everything including some repairs and that the fumigation be done. I thought that everything in the report including the fumigation was being taken care of. About 3 mounts after the sale I found that there still are live Termites. When I called the Termite Company about the fumigation, they said it was not done.
Can make the agent pay for the fumigation? The sell has returned to their native country and getting them to pay would be impossible.

Help the community by answering this question:


I would suggest that you check your purchase agreement to see if there is a reference to Pest Control work. Also, review your closing paperwork to see if you received a form indicating pest control work was completed. Contact the managing broker for the real estate company that assisted you. Explain your problem and request their assistance to solve it. If the problem is still not resolved, obtain the services of a real estate attorney.

Harold Avent, CPDE, CRS, e-PRO
Broker Associate
REMAX Execs South Bay
Email: harold@haroldavent.com
Web Reference: http://www.haroldavent.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
The real question may not be how long can an agent be held accountable, but how can this be resolved?

You will need to review your contract and any addendum and repair request mutual agreed to by you and the seller. Get the managing broker involved. If the agent was an independent Broker your options will be to contact the local real estate board, and/or California Association of Realtors. If the Broker is not a Realtor, then a Real Estate attorney and department of Real Estate licensing are other resources.

Let's assume that the contract stated the seller to provide a section 1 clearance. Then that would have been a condition of the close of escrow. Those instructions would have needed to be in Title and signed off (if a loan) by the lender. Review those documents you signed at escrow. If they state the work was done, then you have a claim against the Termite Company.

Sometimes the inspection company sub-contracts out to the fumigation company. So who dropped the ball if this was agreed to in writing in the contract?

I could go on, however, without seeing your documents and what is in writing, I am only speculating.

This is one of those areas where a dual agency did not work in your best interest.
Web Reference: http://terrivellios.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
Bart, thank you for clarifying this question.

The contract has to state a section 1 clearance is to be provided in order for the title company to know this and for you to be able to have grounds.

If you used the C.A.R. contract there is a box to check which states there is an addendum regarding the Section 1 Clearance included, and it has to be included.

If this was not checked then the lender most likely would not be looking for it and didn't require it as a condition of funding the loan.

If this box is checked, and the addendum was included then the lender would require it and the title officer would have had to provide it. The section 1 clearance comes directly from the Termite Company. If the fumigation wasn't done, was there an "alternative solution" recommended in the report and did they do that instead of a fumigation? Or was money held in escrow for a fumigation at a later date.

Your digging and reading all your documents should reveal who, if anyone is responsible, then you can direct your energies there. Your agent should have been following up on the details, regardless of them being a dual agent, yet they may not be at fault.

Get your agent involved if you haven't done so already,
Web Reference: http://terrivellios.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 18, 2010
If you financed this home, then the lender would have required a "Clear" Termite Report. That would be a follow up report to the original, stating that the necessary repairs were done and the home is free of termites. Ask your agent and his broker. You can also ask the escrow officer and your lender about this situation. They should all know what was reuired.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
When dealing with such a large purchase.... common sense is one thing, but "confirm in writing" is the general way to go. I, too, am surprised that the lender didn't require documentation to that effect.

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
At the time, I though the fumigation was taken care of because the repairs were being done and it would be common sense. The report stated the buildings had Termites, why repair the damage and not fumigate? If it was a cost issue; the repairs cost more than the tenting.
Also I would think that the lender would have demanded the fumigation because of the risk of lending money on a home that being eaten by Termites.
I going to start doing some phone calls.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
it's surprising, to me, that you didn't ask for some form of verification, prior to closing, showing that all of your "requested contingencies" were completed. A letter from the Termite company indicating that the tenting was done, and the extent of their liability and/or guaranty.

I have no idea how long the agent (or agency) can be help accountable, but you might want to take your documentation in to the managing broker of your agency, and see if you can work something out.

If you can't find some form of satisfaction there, it might be worth a consultation with an attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
Since this question has legal aspects, it may be in your best interest to consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate, see exactly what options you may have have and go from there--did you have a chat with your agent.....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
The timing is dependent on many factors and is ultimately a legal question, however 3 months in the case of termite fumigation requirements in not too long. Please review your escrow documents to see if there was a loan condition regarding the termite issue. If you purchased the home for cash, then that may not be the case. In either situation start with the managing broker of the office your agent works for. Most brokers will work with you to get the situation resolved. If not, then you should consult with an attorney to find out what recourse you have.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
You should speak with the managing broker of the company this agent works. You need to review your paperwork to see if it indeed states the seller will treat the property prior to closing, you wanty to make sur eit is in writing. If you are not getting anywhere with the broker, that you may want to see a lawyer who can sort this out for you. good luck working things out
Web Reference: http://www.ScottSellsNH.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
There may be a wide variety of circumstances that makes putting a specific time period on accountability. It would, without a doubt, be good to begin with the agent to get their input and as always, when dealing with legal issues, consult an attorney.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
I would suggest you speak to the agent, to that agent's broker and to an attorney. I would also read all the paperwork carefully to see whether it was ever put in writing. Did you get a mortgage? I would expect the mortgage company to insist the termite infestation be taken care of prior to closing. I would think they would insist on receiving a certificate stating that had been done. What is the cost of the fumigation? Perhaps you can work something out.

Speak to an attorney and follow their advice.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
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