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Arthur Lerner…, Other/Just Looking in Huntingdon Valley, PA

Question about agent's obligation...

Asked by Arthur Lerner, Md, Huntingdon Valley, PA Tue Jul 27, 2010

I would like to know if an agent has an OBLIGATION to know condo regulations so that he/she can advise a client. Here is the situation: We made an offer on a condo, which was accepted. We moved forward with the purchase - we had an inspection done. AFTER the inspection, while we were waiting to see if the owner would make the suggested repairs, our agent contacted us with "bad news;" NO DOGS ALLOWED in the condo! This was AFTER we paid for the inspection! She knew from day one (upon viewing of the condo) that we had a dog. She previously sold a unit there, and ASSUMED that they allowed pets because the owner had a cat. We feel she should have know, but we want to be fair. Please advise, and thanks!

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Answers

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If she had know for sure, she should have told you that pets were not allowed. If you asked, "Are pets allowed?" she should have answered truthfully--either "I don't know" (if she was unsure) or "No" (if she absolutely knew).

It's most likely that she didn't know. It doesn't help her, either, to lead you up to that purchase point, only to have it fall through.

However--and I don't know the procedures in Pennsylvania--there should have been a review period for the condo documents. It's a contingency that likely was in your offer--that the contract was contingent upon receipt and approval of condo documents. Usually that occurs pretty early in the entire process. The condo documents should state, for instance, that dogs aren't allowed. The condo documents are also important for financial reasons--to see if the condo is financially stable and well-managed.

It's difficult to say that "she should have known." And, frankly, if she'd earlier sold a unit there to someone with a cat (and assuming cats are permitted), then it'd be understandable if she assumed that pets were permitted. But--as I said above--if you asked, she should have been very careful in her answer. I'm guessing--just guessing--that she assumed they were permitted and that you may not have asked. Again, there was no advantage for her in helping you make an offer, order an inspection, and so on if she'd known that your dog wouldn't be allowed.

Hope that helps.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 27, 2010
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
MVP'08
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If there are rules, your agent / the seller may have been obligated to provide you with a copy of the rules/regs within a certain period of time (for example 10 or 15 days after signing of contract). This way you could have read the rules and realized that you didn't want to live there because of the dog rules.

Even better, if you are selling a property that is a condos or has a home owner association, the seller could leave the rule/regs on the table for a buyer to read thru if they are interested. This avoids the situation you are in.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 31, 2010
I am sorry to say but buyer agents are not obligated to know the HOA regulations. Your realtors should had at least contact the HOA to confirm that pets are allowed and not just went on assumptions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 31, 2010
Check the mls information.Many listing agents mention it if pets are not allowed in the condo. The buyers agent may not know the information at the time of showing .When I show homes with associations I usually look for a few answers before buyers write the offer based on my buyer's needs 1.pet policy 2.parking of commercial vehicles 3. barbecue on the patio.
Web Reference: http://www.gitabantwal.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 30, 2010
As a pet owner, I can see how this would be upsetting. One of the first things I would ask when representing a buyer or listing a place with an HOA is if pets are allowed, and if there are size and number restrictions. After all, many of us buy a place FOR our animals (I bought a place with a large lot BECAUSE I foster dogs).

It is impossible for an agent to know all the regulations (CCRs) for every condo complex. Even listing agents may not know, or could apprise the buyer and buyer's agent erroneously. This is why it's important to have the HOA documents front and center as part of the disclosures.

On the other hand...no one should ASSUME anything, particularly on the subject of pet restrictions.

We have a situation where a property was built as a rental complex where in they allowed pets. But once it was converted into a condo complex, the new rules changed the pet restriction to only 1 pet, and under 25 lbs. However, they grandfathered the folks who already lived in the complex, and some of them had big dogs, and sometimes more than one at a time. New buyers couldn't understand why the discrepancy.

Good luck to you...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 28, 2010
I do not know how to advise you, but agents do not have an obligation to know the regulations on every condo they show to prospective buyers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 27, 2010
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