Question Details

Cranberry, Home Seller in Westfield, MA

act of god delayed closing - what are options?

Asked by Cranberry, Westfield, MA Fri Dec 9, 2011

I'm selling my house. Three days before closing, we had a freak storm and a tree fell on the roof, damaging the roof and the chimney. There is some cosmetic damage as well.

The closing was delayed and in the meantime, I've had the roof completely replaced and chimney rebuilt. I hope to have the cosmetic work finished by the end of next week and the closing is tentatively scheduled for the following week. I believe the buyers will need to have another inspection during that time as well.

My question is this - if for some reason, the cosmetic repairs are not finished by the the closing date, is there any way we can still close as long as I arrange for (and pay for) the repairs to be finished? I already have the workers lined up. Will the buyers' lender's main concern be the structural damage (all repaired)?

I'm just wondering what the options might be. I understand, though, that the buyers might want to wait until everything is done. Still, I think everyone is eager to move.


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many lawyers will not allow their client (the buyer in this case) to close in the event of such a huge problem. normally, money can be escrowed to cover minor repairs
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 10, 2011
Check with your Realtor. My assumption (just an assumption) would be that the lender would be concerned about structural damage, not cosmetics. (Unless the lack of cosmetics lowered the home's value.)

Usually, in cases like this, there are a couple of options. Often, some money is put into escrow for the repairs. Often it's 150%-200% of the estimated repairs. Once the repairs are done, any excess is refunded to the seller. (In fact, thinking back on it, when we bought our own house a while back, we did that for some chimney repairs.)

If the buyers are confident that the repairs will be done--properly and by a professional--they probably won't object to that approach.

Again, though, talk to your Realtor. These things happen, and almost always get worked out.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
Your closers can escrow funds to make the repairs and pay the workers when done. I would escrow 150% of the funds needed to make the repairs (adding some extra in case it runs over the estimate). When the repairs are done they pay the workers from the escrowed funds and return the left over to you after the closing. The buyer needs to agree to this as well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
Here in MN we do not use lawyers, but if I were you I would consult your listing agent and have them be the advocate for you so you can feel good about the next steps as well as the buyer. If you have it all organized and work is performed by professionals this should not be an issue.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
That is a question for the buyer and their lender. The lender typically won't worry about simple cosmetic repairs, but you never know. Make sure you give the buyer work orders and receipts for all repairs. They may even require some sort of structural engineer's certification if there was any actual structural damage.

If I were the representing the buyer, I would recommend they wait until the repairs are completed to their satisfaction. Once they have closed on the property, it is typically more difficult for the buyers to get sellers to complete the work.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
I am not familiar with the contracts used in MA but here in Florida our contract covers situations like this. Have you reviewed your contract to see if it addresses a situation like this? You should also discuss this with your listing agent right away.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
Yes, more than likely there will be another inspection. The bank will require this. Perhaps the attorneys can work out money left in escrow.

Sorry for your troubles and I'm sure everything will work out fine.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
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