Charlie,  in 22101

We bought a property early this year. During the negotiations, the sellers offered to pay for some of the conversion of a heating system (oil to elec

Asked by Charlie, 22101 Tue Jun 1, 2010

tric for $8000). The sellers wrote the addendum which states that they would pay for the conversion and all we had to do was give them a copy of the completed invoice within 120 days of the sale. Now, fast forward 110 days. We have completed our conversion, and sent them the completed invoice to collect our money. (FYI, the total for the job completed was over $17,000, the house is over 6000 sq. ft.) The next day, I get a response from the sellers lawyer saying, "We have checked with the State Corporation Commission and it was terminated back in 2008. We are not authorizing payment."

There is nothing in the addendum or the contract that states that the company working on my conversion has to be a corporation. There is nothing that states in the contract that it has to even be a company. The addendum specifically states nothing!! What rights to these people have in asking for this info? The sellers even saw the work being done themselves a few weeks ago. What should we do?

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Melissa Loughridge Savenko’s answer
Dear Charlie:

EVERYTHING turns on the specific language of the Addendum. Does the language require that the work be done by a licensed and bonded Class "A" contractor? Or are there some other specific requirements? Ask the attorney holding escrow to explain the basis for the Sellers' position. If he or she is not your lawyer, you need to take the Addendum to your closing attorney and have him or her explain the basis of the Sellers' position. Then you need to have him or her advise you of your legal options. The next step may be having your lawyer write a letter to the Sellers' counsel advising him/her that you, the Buyer, dispute their position, and you will pursue all legal alternatives if they do not meet their legal obligations to pay the $8,000 contribution to the oil to electric heat conversion. Unfortunately, in this market, it seems more and more people are willing to break contractual obligations and essentially dare the other party to come after them. Ask your lawyer what it's going to cost to pursue the Sellers. Hopefully they do not have a legal leg to stand on and one strongly worded letter from your lawyer will make them reconsider their position. Good luck!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 1, 2010
There are a few things that I left out of the original question due to character limits. The money was held in escrow by an attorney. But she is telling me that she can't release it if both parties don't agree. But this seems so ridiculous because what if they disagree just out of spite? I mean, I did everything the contract said that I was required to do. The addendum stated nothing about the type of company or even it had to be one. So what is the purpose of having a third party?

I didn't get "Uncle Bob" to do the work and they do have a federal tax ID number. I just want to know what rights do these sellers have to ask for all this info? I am about to sue them for contract violation. Also, they offered the conversion themselves. We were hesitant to make an offer but they called our agent and offered the conversion. So to me they never intended to pay it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 1, 2010

Since you have received notification from an attorney, in short, it may be best to have "your guy talk to their guy!"

This certainly sounds like a situation that would best involve your attorney as well.........

Best of luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 1, 2010
Hello, Charlie,
It appears, based on what you said in the question, that the addendum that was agreed to by all parties was very loose in it's wording. However, without seeing the addendum, it would be hard to say exactly what your options are. I am surprised, if it was as loosely worded as it appears that it was, that not only your attorney but the seller's attorney would have approved off on it. You also indicated that the seller had agreed during negotiations to pay for some of the conversion up to $8,000 so I am also suprised that this amount, at least, was not held back in an escrow account by your attorney so that it would be available when the conversion took place. Given that this now seems to be a dispute between what you say the addendum says and what the seller's attorney is saying, that this is something you should definitely go back to your attorney to have them handle this dispute. Good luck to you.

Barbara A. Reagan
Long & Foster Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 1, 2010
An attorney is certainly going to be your best resource.

But I am curious...were the funds withheld at closing and held in escrow? What kind of company was used for the conversion? Are they not reputable for some reason?

I wouldn't wait too long. You're close to a deadline and it would be wise to sort this out before the time's up.

Good luck!

Stacy Carter
Home Appreciators Real Estate & Renovations at
Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 1, 2010
At this point, you only have the legal option. The seller's attorney is vetting your invoice to be sure the work was completed as agreed. If you had "uncle Bob" do it, then you might have some issues.
I cannot imagine why this money was not escrowed by the closing attorney, so there would be third party control.
How the seller's agreed to it is beyond me also.
I would suggest you begin with the closing sttorney from your sale.
Good luck!
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 1, 2010
Your best bet is to consult with the attorney that assisted you with the transaction including the wording of the addendum - he/she will best be able to advise you on enforceability and next steps.

Good luck,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 1, 2010
Contact a lawyer to find out can and can not be done.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 1, 2010
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