Home Buying in Newtown>Question Details

Pabuyer, Home Buyer in Newtown, PA

My wife and I are under contract to buy a townhouse. The MLS listing stated the $158 association fee included exterior maintenance.

Asked by Pabuyer, Newtown, PA Thu Feb 4, 2010

We've just beetn old this is not true. We want this purchase to work, but this makes a big difference for us. it was a major factor in our decision to buy this place. What does this mean to us? This misrepresentation in MLS? Should we visit with an attorney? Thanks so much.

Help the community by answering this question:


1. Do you still want this house or do you want out of the contract?
2. If you want the house, make sure you read those docs when they are presented to you. Push your agent to get them from the listing agent so you can have time to read.
3. If you want out of the contract, tell your agent immediately and have her discuss what to do with her broker.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 3, 2010
Hi Pa Buyer, Agents can not give you legal advice. If you feel you need legal advice talk to an attorney. But try to work it out with the agent. If you have not received the documents , read your contract and see if you can back out. Did you specifically ask the agent what exactly was covered by exterior maintenance?
The seller makes the application for documents within a certain number of days as specified in the contract, the association has a certain number of days to give you the docs and then you have a certain number of days to review them.The agent may have not yet received the docs.
If you love the house and are getting a good deal , see what exterior maintenance will be needed in next few years and what it will cost and compare with other homes like condos where it is included etc,
Web Reference: http://www.gitabantwal.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 2, 2010
My husband and I shopped for townhomes/condos in Newtown within the last six months.
Our agent explained to us very early on that in general, the difference between townhome ownership and condo ownership was that in townhome ownership, you own, and are therefore responsible for maintenence on the exterior of your home and sometimes the little bit of land surrounding it.
The assumption was that any property advertised as a townhome (regardless of what it looks like (# of floors, detached, semi-detached, etc) meant; although the association may help defray (sp?) exterior maintenence costs, that expense is ultimately your responsibility.
If the property was labeled as "condo ownership" then you are purchasing/own the interior of the building, and are only responsile for maintaining the stuff under the siding. Typically in "condo ownership" (full exterion maintenece) properties we visited in Newtown, the association fees were significantly higher than $158. I am certainly not trying to throw your agent under the bus... but our agent explained condo/townhome ownership to us right off the bat, as if it were common sense, so if your agent is familiar with the Newtown area, I'm surprised they would not also have known. I would hate to see you waste your money on a lawyer if you can't make a stong case for damages.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 24, 2010
Doubtful you'd even get those costs covered. Keep in mind that the listing realtor is going to have malpractice insurance and attorneys who will represent her interests.

You on the other hand will have to pay out of pocket for your attorney's expenses, but I don't think you'll find an attorney to take your case. This is a loose/loose situation for everyone if this was a material issue to you both to the point that it's a deal breaker.

But, the responsibility to check HOA documents is the responsibility of the buyer in nearly every state I am aware of. I think it's terrible that the listing agent, may have been sloppy or received bad information, and I'm very sad to hear that this is a true issue to you.

However, I feel that after speaking to a Real Estate attorney you will learn a very important aspect of the law in that in order to file suit against someone, you must have damages. I can't envision where your damages are going to come from, assuming you're refunded your good-faith deposits. Perhaps you can press them for the cost of your inspections, but if they refuse you'll have to hire an attorney. An attorney is going to charge you $150 to $300 to research the matter and write a letter (unless you find a kind attorney willing to perform the service for free, which is possible).

Nonetheless, any expectation of obtaining funds above and beyond what you've put into the transaction, are going to be nonexistent, in my opinion.

Again, I'm very sorry this has happened, but if you like the condo, again, why not have your realtor use this as a negotiation chip and ask for money off? Maybe ask for enough money to cover anticipated exterior repairs for the condo or for an exterior structure warranty for a specified number of years (such warranties can be located by your realtor)?

Good luck and please let us know how it turns out,
Eric M. Abrams
CAR DRE#r01862927
Web Reference: http://www.ericmabrams.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010
What would be your solution? I think if you really like it come to a meeting of the minds, work it out peacefully

Usually it is up to you to verfy and all HOA docs are there for your review. Is is bad, yes... and a shame and I am sure disappointing and frustrating but bottom line....ultimately, what do you want. They are not going to sell you the condo below market value so you have a decision to make.

. Negociate a little, buy it or back out. You surely have grounds for backing out. If you want to back out the best I think you can hope for and deserve is any cost you incurred to get the condo.

Best of Luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010
Gita, the listing said Common Area Maintenance and Exterior Building Maintenance.

Mark and Fran: we found out at the home inspection that exterior building maintenance is not included in the association fee. We found out by talking to the seller, asking her how exterior building maintenance was handled. We were doing due diligence, asking questions. Unfortunately we found out during our $600 inspection that this information about the house had been misrepresented by the listing agent, who has not yet provided us with the association documents.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010

TRENDMLS clearly has a disclaimer regarding the accuracy of the information presented.
The standard form PA contract also includes a statement regarding representations.
The bottom line is that it is the buyers responsibility to do his due diligence, so that he knows what he is buying.
Do you want out of the contract.? Consult your agent and or attorney. Again the standard form PA contract allows a 5 day review period for the condo or homeowners association documents. That is 5 days after delivery of the documents to you or your representative. If you are unhappy with anything contained within those documents you then have an opportunity to cancel the agreement.
Consult with your agent and attorney.

Fran and Mark Redding
Prudential Fox Roach
1010 Stony Hill Road
215-321-3307 DIRECT
Web Reference: http://www.franandmark.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010
I do not know what your agreement of sale says and what the mls said exactly. Did it say common area maintenance? Once your offer is accepted, you will receive the documents for the home owners association and you have a certain number of days to read them. You should talk to an attorney and see what your contract says if you do not understand it. The documents say what is included etc.Even if it says exterior maintenance you should know what that means does it mean new roof and siding, new paint etc.
Web Reference: http://www.gitabantwal.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010
Hello, I am the wife of PA buyer, who asked the original question.

We found out from the seller, an older lady whom we met at the house inspection, that the association fee does not include exterior maintenance . She told us very clearly and in a lot of detail that exterior repairs are the responsibility of the homeowner. This was a surprise to us and to our realtor. So we think this was a misrepresentation by the seller's agent. Do we have a case for asking the seller's agency for financial reparation if we decide to go ahead with the deal?

Thank you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010
Sure, but as yourself a few questions first

What are your damages? Does this rule out the condo completely? What is the goal of meeting with an attorney? Have you spoken to your real estate agent first? Has your real estate agent spoken to the listing agent?

I'm not familiar with PA's MLS or your local MLS, but nearly every MLS has a disclaimer that says something along the lines of "information deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed, and should be verified by buyer, etc."

I think your best bet is to use it as a negotiation point with the seller. An attorney is going to ask you the same question: What are your damages? You didn't purchase the condo, you learned about the misrepresentation prior to closing, so where do your damages lie?

With that said, you can find a real estate attorney by contacting the PA State Bar Association, who can refer you to an attorney who will give you a brief consultation for a very low fee, allowing you to determine what your next course of action should be.

Unfortunately this is relatively common, and why it's important to read through HOA documents prior to making an offer, or shortly thereafter. The listing agent may have acted in good faith on the part of the seller, who may have been mistaken, as well. It could have been a typo, etc. But, I doubt it was a malicious mistake with an intent to defraud, and even if it was, you're still going to come back to the issue of damages.

You might find an attorney to take your case, pay him or her $10k, and waste a lot of time, with little hope of recovery, again due to the fact that you have no damages, or you can work it out with the seller and see if you can obtain additional funds off your purchase price. I would recommend the latter if you were my client, and attempt to gain additional funds off the purchase price.

Best regards,
Eric M. Abrams
CA DRE# r01862927
Web Reference: http://www.ericmabrams.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010

This is a most unfortunate situation. One that leaves agents looking bad and jeopardizes the transaction. The reality is that mistakes are made and for that reason most MLS print out sheets will include a clause that states something to the effect " information deemed reliable but not guaranteed."

Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010
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