Home Buying in 90278>Question Details

Ocdodger, Home Buyer in 90278

. in our contract, seller agreed to repair all section 1 termite damage, now he is refusing, and doesn't want to sell. What can we do?

Asked by Ocdodger, 90278 Sun Oct 17, 2010

We have an agreed contract. Were were only days away from closing, and now he is trying to get out. What can we do legally?

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For any legal questions/help needed, it's best to consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate--consider a consultation, have all related paperwork reviewed and see exactly what options you may have--then go from there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
For any legal questions/help needed, please consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate--have all your related paperwork reviewed and see exactly what options you may have--then go from there.
You could have your agent speak to the sellers agent, If it can't be solved, you should be entitled to be get all your expenses back.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 17, 2010
You need to talk to your agent that represents you. Their Broker would give you the legal answers or contact a Real Estate Attorney. Most lenders will require that all Section 1 work be done before closing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 18, 2010
I hope you have an agent on your side. The first thing I would do is find out why the seller wants to back out. If it is over money and he is going to sell to someone else-- forget it! He's in a contract with you!! But if it's a reason you can respect, like he lost his job and can't buy anywhere else, just make sure you get *ALL* your expenses back -- appraisal fee, inspection fees, etc.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
David's answer below is a very good summary of the issues. You really need your agent to speak with the other agent and try to figure out what the real problem is. Sometimes sellers just try to dig in their heals on a minor issue and are obstinate. I just had a client on a $1,7 million full price offer threaten to cancel the deal over about $1,200 of requested repairs that he felt were not warranted. The other agent and I ended up paying for it get the deal closed. If the seller just refuses to honor the contract, your only recourse is to bring a lawsuit for specific performance to force him to go through with the sale. Just the threat of a lawsuit may get him back on track when he realizes he has a valid contract in place that he must honor.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
You find yourself in a challenging situation, but not one that most experienced Realtors haven't experienced in one form or another. Short of suing the seller for specific performance in hopes of forcing the sale (an unpleasant and unpredictable process), several steps warrant attention. The key is getting to the bottom of the seller's motivations to understand what's really happening, and your licensed Realtor should be leading the charge on this effort. A negotiated solution is likely to be more satisfying to all than hollow threats of legal action.

When a seller refuses to close, several things may be happening. One is that he/she got a better offer and prefers it (for any number of reasons) to yours. Another is "seller's remorse," a sort of "insanity" that a few sellers go through right before they are due to leave their home (same thing happens to some buyers). Or it may be a sort of hardball negotiating ploy wherein the seller expects to avoid repairs to which he/she has agreed.

Most agreed-upon repairs are not a condition of closing, and if the seller agrees to do them and then fails to do so, the buyer can close and then have a legal action against the seller. But you don't want a legal action, you want a home.

As it happens, termite work is a higher-level repair than most others, assuming the seller did indeed agree to do Section 1 work on form WPA. If so, the seller owes you a termite completion report, before provision of which he/she hasn't performed on the terms of the contract.

So one question is, what's the extent and cost of that work, can it be accomplished less expensively (e.g., having a handyman perform the wood repairs and the termite company certify them), and are you willing to lose the home over it? South Redondo is a beautiful place to live, and if the cost is minor and you're happy with the home otherwise, then it may not pay to stand on principal. If you negotiated the price down considerably already, then perhaps the seller feels he/she has come far enough already, and maybe you can live with it. In ths case, you would probably want to agree to reimburse the seller for the cost of the Section 1 repairs in escrow (don't pay for anything before you own the home!).

An intermediate strategy might be to agree to split the cost of the Section 1 work in escrow.

Why not just agree to skip the Section 1 work and live with the termites, when the vast majority of homes in the South Bay have termites anyway? You can do this if your lender will allow, but many will not, so that may not be an option.

What if the seller is just using the termite work as a foil for having changed his/her mind on selling the home? Well, there are costs to getting out of a real estate contract, and the seller should be reminded of those. Check the damages clauses. How about the escrow costs? If you had wanted to cancel the transaction (after releasing your contingencies), the seller would have had a possible claim on your deposit. If the seller wants out (and you have kept your end of the deal), then he/she will need your consent to cancel. Perhaps that consent should cost what you would have lost had the situation been reversed?

Your realtor should be speaking with the seller's agent and with your escrow officer to understand exactly where you, the seller, and the transaction stand. With a clear understanding of motivations, an acceptable solution may appear.

Good luck, and I hope that helps!

David White
Your Professional Real Estate Resource in the South Bay
South Bay Brokers
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
You should consult an attorney right away. If you are working with an agent, speak with them and they can refer you to legal counsel, or may have legal counsel available in their office. If you need a referral, feel free to contact me.

Richard Schulman
Keller Williams Realty
#1 Buyers Agent KW Los Angeles Region
(310) 482-0173
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
Unfortunately you can't force anyone to sell, even if they've signed a contract. Sometimes people have "Seller's remorse." I'd have your agent speak to the Seller's agent to find out what really is going on and why the Seller seems to have changed his/her mind and see if it's something that can be solved.

If it can't be solved, you may be entitled to be reimbursed for your expenses...but I always recommend trying to solve the issue first before panicking.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
I agree with Anna. decide what you want and see an attorney about your options. What does your agent and the listing agent have to say about this?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
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