Home Buying in Omaha>Question Details

Monica, Home Buyer in Omaha, NE

If a seller did not disclose there was serious wood rot in 3 picture windows and 2 glass panes dropped ....Are they held responsible?

Asked by Monica, Omaha, NE Tue Apr 13, 2010

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If sellers did not disclose on disclosure ( signed by owners) previous termite damage can the buyer request repairs be made before closing? Impossible they didn't know since new sheetrock/paint is where damage exists. Purchase agreement is on conteintcy of termite inspection results.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 24, 2012
Hi Monica,
Well, a person is only "responsible" to disclose defects they are aware of. It's possible they did not know about this problem.
Just as an illustration, I live in Southern California (pretty dry area) yet, I discovered I had some wood rot in one of the bedroom window sills. I never woud have seen this if I hadn't started sanding and painting that room. It had been previously painted (about 3 years ago) and the painter didn't notice it either. I would be more concerned about my home inspection, then the homeowner!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 15, 2011
Monica, all educated people have their areas of ignorance.

Realistically, there are several courses of action you can take, including:

* calling up the seller, and say, "Hey! You didn't disclose this to me! Wouldja gimme some money?

* calling up an attorney, and tell them story, and ask them what they think.

The one thing I'd suggest is to ask yourself: would you paid the same amount for the home if you'd had an inspection, or if the seller had disclosed this problem?

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
From your question and later explanation, you didn't have a home inspector, representing you, do an examination of the property. Probably, not the best decision, even in a multiple bid situation. If having a home inspection means the seller rejects your offer, you may wind up the winner. Better to be free to make a home selection with all the protections which can be written into your offer, than wind up with problems. Perhaps the seller did know, but proving that in a court of law is not easy. A prudent seller, in a multiple offer situation, will usually select the offer without the inspection. This does not mean that the seller necessarily knew about the windows, but likely did. I tell my buyers that the Seller Disclosure Statement is interesting for what it reveals or doesn't reveal, but it is no substitute for a good home inspection. It's Reagan's version of "trust but verify." There is always a "legal" response to your question and a "practical" one. I agree that suing a seller, even in Small Claims Court is not a pleasant or often productive experience. In NE, the person being sued has the right to request that the lawsuit be transferred out of Small Claims to the regular County Court docket. That means that everyone has to lawyer up. I'm sorry you had this bad experience. This will not be the last home you buy. Next time be sure your offer includes a home inspection contingency that you are not willing to give up. Hire a qualified home inspector to represent you. My recommendation is a home inspector who is ASHI certified, has a minimum of 5 years experience and does no more than two inspections a day.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
Hello Monica,
Since you say you can prove that the seller's knew of the issues with the window, you might have a chance at getting compensated for the repairs from the seller- if you can find them.
I seriously doubt that the repair amount will be enough to make hiring an attorney worthwhile; but depending on the amount of the repair, you may want to take them to small claims court.
Don't let this issue cloud your feelings for your new home & stop kicking yourself- in the sceme of things, it really is a minor issue.
Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010

Since you maybe able to prove that the sellers knew about the problem and tried to hide the problem and did not disclose it you might want to seek help with a Real Estate Attorney. it has been my experience that it will cost you more in legal advise and fees than it will to replace the windows. Call around to Real Estate attorneys to get their take opn is it worth taking legal action.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
If you did have the Sellers disclosure as you say I'm assuming it was a sellers disclosure, and the Sellers signed it. You can get a lawyer and seek out financial relief.
A home inspection is your right if your offer was accepted, or we should say in N.J it is, unless you waived that right. However still your disclosure like we said if it was signed by the Sellers you do have a leg to stand on.
All the best
Dave & Lisa
Web Reference: http://www.urhomerealty.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
We did buy the house...3 months ago...This problem has been there for a while ...They fill in the baseboards with caulk and had the blinds hiding the drop window....plus a window has been to the house with the previous owners...They knew of the problem and did not disclose it on the statement....These are floor to ceiling windows...We are getting estimates for new ones but i feel so deceived ....We did not get inspection because of the others bids on the house....Yes I feel very stupid... We are educated people...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
Hi Monica,

I would think this should have been found during a home inspection. A good reason to have one done and also pick a top notch home inspection company. They may cost a bit more but are worth every penny.
Making repairs or updating the windows may be cheaper than hiring an attorney to pursure this issue. You would need to prove the seller had knowledge of the problem and intentionally did not disclose the damage.
If you passed up a home inspection, may be difficult to come back on the seller.


0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010

It depends. First, how long after closing did this happen? Secondly, Did you have a home inspection done BEFORE you bought the home? Whatever the answer to those is...the truth of the matter is they SHOULD have disclosed it if they were aware of it.

But, in a court if you tried to seek damages, the cost would outweigh the value of the action and they would probably ask if you did have it inspected and if you did, it would then fall to the home inspector to have noted it. The best person to ask this question is a lawyer specializing in real estate law. Caveat Emptor would be the expected response from this realtor...or translation...BUYER beware. You must do your due diligence to find out all you can before you close the sale, good or bad.
Web Reference: http://www.talk2teri.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
The seller disclosure allows the seller to disclose all KNOWN defects in the home to the buyer. If the seller does not know or is not aware a problem how can they disclose it. A home inspection may have caught this if you had one, if you did go back to the home inspector and ask him to come back out and reinspect the problem. This may not do anything to reslove the issue but if they missed it they may help offset the cost. If you did not have one it is buyer beware.

You need to priove the seller knew about this problem and did not disclose it in small claims court or hire a real estate attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
Hello Monica,
A home purchase is typically an 'as is' sale upon it's closing & you would have to prove that the seller knew of the problem & didn't disclose it or even tried to hide it, to maybe be able to hold them responsible.
Can I ask if you had a home inspection and/or a pest inspection performed on the property?
How did you find the wood rot, is it easily visible or was it hidden in some way (heavy growth of bushes, lots of furniture blocking access to inspect that area or even painted over so it wasn't visible)?
If you did have either inspection completed & the wood rot could have easily been identified by the inspector you maybe able to have one of them take care of it, if it was hidden or they weren't able to inspect the area they can not be held responsible.
Fortunately, I believe that this isn't going to be a very expensive repair. Ask your agent if they could give you a couple of referrals to good handymen & get some prices for repair.
I would also check with your utility company & see what rebates they have available for replacing the old windows as well as any tax credits that your state & the Fed. is offering.
Congrat.s on your new home!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
The obvious questions that come to mind are how long did you own the home before the problem occurred, was the home sold in an as-is condition, did you get a seller disclosure statement, is there a reason you believe the seller knew about the wood rot and can it be proved in a court of law, did you have a home inspection and a wood destroying insects inspection? What is the cause of the wood rot? Water, pests...? Have you made any updates to the home in the problem area? All of these questions are pertinent to your case. However, you should consult an attorney in your area to determine if you have a case.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
Hi Monica,
If the seller did not fill out a sellers disclosure
If you didn't do a Home Inspection
Then I believe even in NE the standard saying is "Let the Buyer Beware"
Now if you did do a home inspection or the Seller did a disclosure and didnt mention it.
I'd assume that you'd be entitied to either having the seller make repairs,or credit given.
In addition remember the seller doesn't have to sell and you don't have to buy.,
Sorry to say the above but better straight up than a whole lot of mixed signal writing.
Also if your getting the property at a good price think about what you want to do and if you really want this property.
You also don't say weather or not you've already purchased the home? If you have and you did a home inspection I'd look towards your home inspector.
I hope all works out for the best
take care
U R Home Realty
Web Reference: http://www.urhomerealty.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 13, 2010
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