Home Buying in Raleigh>Question Details

Sara, Home Seller in Charlotte, NC

Our house closed three months ago. The buyers are now trying to sue because they were not happy with the repair work. Are we responsible?

Asked by Sara, Charlotte, NC Mon Feb 25, 2013

Our buyers are trying to sue stating we did not fix the repairs adequately. They had an opportunity to not close, but said they would and address their concerns with the contractor who did not work. Are we responsible? Everything was structural sound and working.

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Bill Eckler’s answer

It's tough to provide you with meaningful information on such sparce details. Anyone can sue for anything but it doesn't mean they will get their wishes. If the work was done by a reputable and certified repair company and you have provided reciepts for the required work, one might believe you have fulfilled your obligation.

A simple but important observation is once someone obtaines legal services......it's probably best to do likewise.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 25, 2013
Good morning, Sara:
If you used the NC standard Offer to Purchase and Contract form 2T, you should refer to section 4(g) CLOSING SHALL CONSTITUTE ACCEPTANCE OF THE PROPERTY IN ITS THEN EXISTING CONDITION UNLESS PROVISION IS OTHERWISE MADE IN WRITING. You should contact the agent and attorney who assisted you at closing. A letter from an attorney may end this quickly. If you appreciate an answer, please give thumbs up. For the most helpful answer, please say thanks with a best answer click.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 16, 2013
We are a buyer beware state. Your buyer probably having second thought and with easy return policy with retail products, some buyer feels the same with houses. If the buyer took some step already, call your agent and consult. If your agent was a good and knowledgeable one, he/she would be able to direct you towards the right direction.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
The best advice that I can give as a real estate agent in the area is to contact a real estate attorney for advice on this issue, preferably the attorney who closed the deal. Best wishes on the outcome.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 14, 2013
Have the buyers hired a lawyer who sent a letter to you or are the threatening to sue? If they have already hired a lawyer, they have escalated the process. If they have not, it would me prudent for you to meet with an attorney and have them write a letter that also lays out the financial repercussions for the buyer should they lose.

Do you know what the buyers want? Perhaps you can come to some reasonable accommodation that will make this problem go away, you can move on with your life.

I am an agent who sued a seller for fraud and I won. However, it took over a year, a lot of my time, and cost a total of $140,000, that the seller paid. Lawyers are obligated to go through mediation first, before it ever goes to trial. We went through mediation, the seller would not settle, so we went to trial. Seller ended up paying my court fees, his court fees, my lawyer, his lawyer, buying back the house. I was "made whole", seller lost beaucoup money.

Get a good attorney who will lay out scenarios and advise you. I hope it turns out well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 25, 2013
To begin with you need to understand that anyone can sue anyone and lawyers encourage this behavior as they get paid regardless.

My own thoughts are while it will be aggravating and will cot you money to defend yourselves the buyers are unlikely to prevail as they closed and our contracts clearly indicate that by closing they accept the house in it's current condition. If you used a licensed contractor for the repairs then they should in fact be taking up the issue with them.

Sellers reading this should take note, it really isn't in your best interest to make repairs for a buyer, you would be much better if off if possible arguing over money (based on quotes) and to offer either closing cost credit in lieu of repairs or to write a check at closing to the contractor the buyer wishes to use. By undertaking repairs you put yourself in the position of arguing over the quality of the repair. Buyers should also prefer to work in this manner as it put you in the position of overseeing the repairs to your own satisfaction and getting any warranty that might come with the repairs. This can't always be done as there are lending requirements that can interfere but this is the best option in most cases.

The question you need to consider is whether it's worth the time, money and aggravation to defend yourself in court or whether it would be less expensive to negotiate a settlement even if you did nothing wrong. You may prevail in court but financially it may be a Pyrrhic victory. The best advice I can offer is to consult with an attorney to get a sense of what you may be looking at expense wise if you go to court.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 25, 2013
My guess is that if you are sued, you will likely win, but that depends upon many things and your attorney will be able to help you with these. Be sure to get one right away. He may tell you that it will be cheaper to pay them something and make the suit go away, as opposed to paying his entire fee. They may be counting on that. If you do that, do not admit any guilt, call it a "good will" payment.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 25, 2013
you filed a property disclosure statement, the buyer had an inspection, you had any issue's professionally remedied, you kept the receipts, you acted in good faith, the buyer and their agent did a final walk thru/walk around and the buyer bought the home and signed off. Mike is right.....get your documents together and get an attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 25, 2013
This is a question for your closing attorney. I am NOT a lawyer, but typically in this state, once they sign off on the home at closing, they've accepted it. The last two closings I had where I represented the seller, the buyers had the inspector come back out to check the house after we completed the work based upon his initial report. They did this as part of their due diligence.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 25, 2013
As soon as you say "sue," you are in Attorneyland.

You need to pull together all your documents and notes on the transaction and contact an attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 25, 2013
If you complete dthe work as part of a home inspecrion request, they should have signed off accepting it and releasing the contingincy before you closed, if this was not done you shoudl find out why. Becuase it is a legal matter you need to get your listing agent involved and have a lawyer review your paperwork and contracts.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 25, 2013
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