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jasnance, Home Buyer in Kansas City, MO

What recourse do I have for a seller causing property damage upon their move out?

Asked by jasnance, Kansas City, MO Mon Oct 8, 2012

We closed on a Tues. took possession on a Fri with a final walk through on that before closing. Sellers moved out Thurs. and caused damage to walls and hardwood floors. The left a note apologizing for the damage so we have proof they caused the damage. Our buying agent says they can no longer help. What else can I do to recover repair costs?

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Your buyers agent should of been a help to you. In the real estate contract it states seller is responsible for property until closing. But, when moving out, it could be a little bit different. Look through your contract and contact your agent.

If you still have an issue, let me know and I'll see if I can be of assistance.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 22, 2012
Thank you all for the information.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 9, 2012
Not a lot of options unless you get the sellers to cooperate. How much damage determines wether you want to get legal advice.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 9, 2012
It's never a great idea to close prior to the Sellers having vacated the property and you've discovered the main reason why. I would contact the listing agent and /or your closing attorney and ask for the Sellers forwarding address. The listing agent probably has a cell number for the Sellers as well.

I'd get a quote to have the hardwood floors buffed out and the walls repaired and would then contact the Sellers and speak with them about the damage and what it is going to cost to repair it. Hopefully their fair people and will send you a check, if not you may need to pursue them in small claims court. I would take pictures of the damage and hold on to the note as evidence.

Next I'd contact my buyer agent know that their refusal to even try to help indicates that they never really cared about you and were obviously only interested in the commission and that now that you understand their position clearly you wanted them to know that you will never recommend them to others and will in fact go out of your way to make sure others know that they aren't' really interested in their clients. It's certainly not their fault the Sellers damaged the home, and they shouldn't be expected to help pay for the damage, however they should have cautioned you about closing before the Sellers were out and they certainly could have offered to help you track the Sellers down so that you could speak with them directly.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 9, 2012
Depending on the amount of the damage, small claims court is the best recourse.
But you may want to double check with your attorney.

Moreover, try to determine if pursuing the claim is worth your time and effort and money--there is a filing fee involved and perhaps--a laywer's fee for the consultation

Good Luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 9, 2012
Don Tepper has some good advice here but I think Jim Olive is right here too. The amount of damage done may not be worth your while to pursue. Undoubtedly, your contract contained language regarding how to handle monetary damages in the event of property damage. Double check your contract for this language.

It's worth noting that your agent's comment about how they "can no longer help" is troubling. I treat my clients as a "lifetime client" instead of a "transaction client". It's too bad that they're so quick to dump you off.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 8, 2012
This is one of those sticky situations where people without honesty and integrity can "get away" with sleazy behavior because it's not worth hauling their butts into small claims court to get satisfaction. Depending on how much damage we're talking, you may be better off just eating it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 8, 2012
Good advice Don Tepper. Possession days after closing is high risk.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 8, 2012
No rent back. Our agent did write emails to the sellng agent stating she would leverage their broker's lawyer to seek costs for damages with minimal reply from the sellers and their agent. After a couple of weeks of no real movement our agent sent us an email stating theirbbroker's lawyer said there was nothing they could do and if we wanted to pursue he matter to get our own lawyer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 8, 2012
So you closed on Tuesday with a rent-back until Thursday? If that's the case, then your agent should have included something in the rent-back agreement covering a security deposit for possible damage.

I'd speak to your agent's broker, who may be surprised or concerned at your agent's failure to protect you.

If that's unsuccessful, then you might try small claims court, seeking to collect from your tenants. You might include your agent in the claim as well.

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 8, 2012
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
MVP'08
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