Sometimes, being in the right, can be exhausting, and expensive. Only you can decide if you're willing to pursue the seller, for the cleaning and missing items. You may be legally in the right, and still not regain those items.
Josh's notion that a "good realtor" with "good contracts" could have saved you this problem is cute. A good realtor would have suggested what I suggested... 1) don't close without those issues resolved, or 2) have them set-aside an escrow account with enough money to make you whole.
At this stage, you're tilting at windmills, even though you're in the right. I know it's not the answer you wanted to hear.
Usually you get better answers than this!!! Jason was right.
I like Karsten's answer as well.
Although your leverage is gone to encourage the seller to do what is right. You lost that when you closed. However, the seller DID sign a contract. Depending on your situation you could take the seller to small claims court or if it warrants hiring an attorney then do so!
I have a few clients that have gone through this and come out successful!
As a Realtor I know how frustrating it can be to have everyone just push the closing through. The truth is, that if you have a good Realtor and use good contracts, then you still have legal obligations that survive the closing. Assuming you didn't sign anything that said anything counter to that.
Yeah, unfortunately, the below answers are all accurate. As much as I hate to say. For the dollar amounts of what you're out, it's not going to be worth your time, unless the items they took had some pretty good values, like a refrigerator or such. Hopefully you had an agent working on your behalf - let them figure it out. They shouldn't have let you close. If you didn't have an agent on your side, then I would recommend in the future you do - a good agent usually keeps things like this from happening. Also, let your agent and the other agent know you're going to pursue some kind of recourse. Us agents are very typically left on the hook for many items.
If you'd like the name of a good real estate attorney, let me know. I have one I really like.
It appears there were many loose items involved in this deal....too many of them to close without a clear means of resolution.
Our recommendation is that you consult an attorney for a review of the contract, closing process, and a recommendation.
If all of the facts have been accurately presented, all of the previous responses are basically correct. The advice is also correct - the closing should have been postponed or a reasonable amount of monies should have been held. I would difer somewhat and say that the closing attorney (who I would assume you or your agent selected), as well as your agent, should have advised you of the above options.
With that said, if the sellers are still in the local area, just as a matter of principle, I would pursue them in small claims court. If the sellers have relocated out of the state, I would treat it as a bought lesson. If in what would be a rare case - hopefully - your agent and/or attorney advised you to go ahead and close, I would have a discussion with them concerning your monetary loses and compensation.
Either way, it will cost you additional monies. Good luck and next time, pick a different Realtor and attorney.
By closing without a set-aside, and without having those issues resolved, you've given up your biggest and best bargaining chip, and while I would allow your attorney to continue to complain and harass them by mail, you should understand that the likelihood of a good resolution, unless the seller decides to be a nice guy, is small.
JWagner, If you have closed escrow, there is probably little recourse. You should have had an amount held back from the sellers at closing and placed in an escrow account until the missing items reappeared. This is a civil issue, not a criminal one. Don't waste your time pursuing claims that will get you no where. Where was your agent in all this? Ask him to follow up with the cleaning company or hire another one on your behalf.