Question Details

Lara McHenry, Real Estate Pro in Spokane, WA

Sellers deceived and did not disclose...what is my recourse?

Asked by Lara McHenry, Spokane, WA Wed Oct 3, 2007

I am a Realtor and would like colleague input, here is the clients the buyers purchased a home, we did a home inspection etc. But sometimes there are things that are not obvious due to seller's mass quantities of possessions. Day of closing we do a walk through...find that sellers are still moving, stuff is everywhere and really cannot do a thorough walk there are 4 kids, loads of stuff everywhere etc. The next day after recording my clients move in, to their dismay they have found that the carpet has been patched where the couch was located and the patch is much lighter and very unsightly, the storm doors which were hidden behind things in garage are destroyed, the built ins have been removed...they say they were not built ins as they took the original built ins out and put in some entertainment center of their own which they removed. Now the trim is incomplete and the built ins are gone. Is there any recourse for my buyers?

Help the community by answering this question:


You can hire a lawyer but that's expensive and won't solve the problem. Carpet is $1 a ft. Lawyers are $75 bucks every time they read an email. Good luck working through this tuff situation
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2007
Thanks everyone, I talked with my broker about the situation and we agree that in our state we are limited to only enforcing the purchase and sale contract and anything outside of that is for the lawyers. It would end up being a small claims issue in our state and then it is likely it would end up costing more to pursue than what is to be gained. I have decided to try to speak with the sellers agent and see if we can work something out, if not I will explain to my clients that as much as I would like to pursue this I am unable as I would be practicing law in some manner and would suggest that they contact a lawyer shoule they want to pursue damages. All the input was very good and I thank you. I am aware of the hotline but really as I was unable to sleep and it was late I shouted out to my colleagues rather than try calling the hot line at 1:00 A.M. ...I did meet with my broker this morning and really appreciated his and everyone here's advice. Much Gratitude.....Lara
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2007
I like how you just bow out and leave the buyers on their own... Nice! Real estate agents, are for the most part, complete idiots! Stop worrying about your commissions only and help people like you are supposed to!
Flag Thu Dec 27, 2012
For the future, consider this: When I had a similar situation happen--house was full of clutter, food still in refrigerator during walk through--we closed the deal but held money in escrow until everything was gone and home could be reinspected.
I know it doesn't answer your question, but think it's a good idea for your consideration.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2007
Wow, what a deal. I agree with Ute. Talk to the seller's agent. Ask her to inquire for you. Talk to the Agents broker as well. Be sure to ask for some monetary assistance to the buyers. Don't be specific about where it will come from. Let them figure it out. It is very unfortunante. We see this stuff happen all the time. You wouldn'tthink you would have to move all of the furniture to check the condition of the carpet.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2007
Each state has a sellers disclosure law. I am in PA and ours is pretty clear. The last Broker Law credit class I attended, tauoght by a local Broker,Attorney and advisor to the Real Estate Hotline (FIND OUT YOURs in your local area as it is a FREE legal hotline!) covered sellers disclosure law and the updates of claims that had occered recently.
We found that there are now actual court cases - setting precedent, whereby the sellers in one particular case were sued (our state has a 2-4 year time-line to sue), and the buyers got ALL their money back including all court costs, loss of monies tied up in the sale/purchase AND the sellers had to take the property back!
MY PONT - FIND OUT your local disclosure law, call your real estate hotline (outlined on our PA purchase contracts) and get the 'scoop' of what recourse you have.
Also check whether your buyers signed off on the walk-thru - even if they did they may STILL have recourse!...Hope that helps...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2007
I agree with Ute. I do not see any of these items being a deal-breaker. They are unfortunate indeed. Unless there was know, non-disclosed material fact the impacts the structure and safety of the property or significantly impacts the value of the proerty, they will just have to deal with it. Good luck with it. I hope that it can be resolved in a civil manner.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2007
Hi Lara. I would say that's one of those REALTOR nighmares. I totally understand what what you are going through. Have you spoken to the listing agent? I think that would be your first contact person. Give him or her a chance to fix it. Usually, when there's too much stuff during the inspections, the inspector will include a notation in the report and then it's really up to the buyer to either accept the property "as is" or to ask the seller to put the property in a condition that permits the inspector to conduct a thorough and complete inspection. Presumably, your buyers did not do that. Once they remove their inspection contingencies, they are left with the question whether the sellers failed to disclose material facts. Based on the fact that you describe, I would say it's a grey area. Patched carpet that's lighter under the couch may or may not be a material fact depending. Your clients would also have to prove that the sellers knew about it.
Removing built-ins is another issue. If the trim is incomplete after removal of what was there when your clients made the offer, I would say they removed fixtures. The question is whether it's worth fighting over it. Your clients would have to take the sellers to small claims court or arbitrate/mediate the issue if they agreed to alternative dispute resolution in the contract and I don't know if it's worth the trouble.
As far as the storm doors are concerned. I'd just forget about them as they were not in place at the time of the offer and unless they were specifically mentioned in the contract as included items, I don't think they were included in the purchase. If this happened to me I'd talk to my broker and see what I can do to help my clients. Sometimes you have to open your wallet even after escrow to make the client happy. I'd probably make some monetary contribution myself if neither the seller's agent nor the sellers do the right thing. Sorry you have to deal with this unfortunate situation.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 3, 2007
Ute Ferdig -…, Real Estate Pro in ,
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2015 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer