Can I receive money for repairs from the seller on a deck that has termite damage not disclosed or inspected (due to the seller's instructions)?

Asked by Chlozada, San Pedro, CA Sat Nov 13, 2010

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Kevin and Ju…, Agent, Wildomar, CA
Sat Nov 8, 2014
This is an old question, but is still relevant. Good answers provided -
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Arpad Racz, Agent, San Jose, CA
Thu Nov 6, 2014

Was it an as-is offer?
Did you end up having your own inspections done on the deck?

Kind regards,

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Danielle Whi…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Thu Nov 6, 2014
Did an agent represent you in the sale? There are a few different scenarios regarding termite reports/work for transactions:

1. The seller was required to obtain a termite report in the contract. If this was the case, usually the seller will be required to complete Section 1 items on the report and you, as the buyer, would have the option to complete any Section 2 items on the report. Section 1 items include any dry rot or actual termite infestation at the property. Section 2 items include preventative measures you can take to prevent termite infestation in the future. An example of a Section 2 item would be earth to wood contact under the house. A simple fix would be to place concrete between the soil and wood to prevent termites from getting into the wood in the future.

2. If the seller was not required to obtain a termite report for you in the contract, you still were given about 10-17 days for inspections. We always recommend for our buyers to get termite inspections during that time if the seller has not already obtained one. The termite company our team uses will charge about $100 fee for the report, but they will waive the fee/apply it as a credit if you consent to any termite work to be completed at the property by their company.

Therefore, with a good real estate team, you should have been involved in one of the above two scenarios. You should never close on a transaction or remove inspection contingencies without fully inspecting all areas of the property.
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Jim McCowan, Agent, Arlington, VA
Tue Mar 22, 2011
Your agent should be able to help you with this or, if you didn't use an agent :-(, the attorney who handled the closing.
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Maya Swamy, , Long Beach, CA
Mon Mar 21, 2011
I am not sure what you mean when you say termite dmange ws not disclosed or inspected due to sellers instructions. Who did the seller instruct? The inspector or you? Also have you closed? If you have not closed it depends on the exact wording of the contract. If the cost of repair is too high you can back out of the sale.You could also negotiate with the seller to pay some or all of the repairs.

If you have closed you should have recourse against the seller for non-disclosure, I believe. Though you should consult with an attorney on that as I am not one. You may find it costs more to hire an attorney than the deck is worth.
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Salim Patel, Agent, Torrance, CA
Sun Nov 14, 2010
Hi Chlozada.

If you have a termite inspection report for this property, please review it for any indication of damage in the deck. If the report fails to indicate any damage, call the Termite company. As the responses from the Realtors below pointed out, your purchase contract should have clearly specified who was supposed to pay for what. Your Realtor should have explained to you all the terms of the contract. I assume that you already discussed this matter with him.

If the damage is significant, I would recommend seeking advice from a Real Estate attorney.
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CJ Brasiel, Agent, San Jose, CA
Sun Nov 14, 2010
Chiozada -

First, review your contract with your agent. Look for whether or not the contract stipulated a termite report to be provided by the seller and or buyer and look for a "wood destroying pest cost allocation addendum". This will help to know what the expectations were from the day the contract was written.

Secondly, review with your agent the contingency period for investigations in your contract. If you are within this time period you have the right to investigate the cost of the repairing the deck and determine whether or not you want to proceed with the contract.

It is not that uncommon for decks not to be included inspections so I would not immediately draw suspect on the seller. However, if it is damaged by termite or age, it is certainly worth knowing the cost of any repairs or remedies, (like removing or rebuilding differently).

If the seller knew there was damage (i.e. obvious boards rotten) and it was not disclosed in the sellers questionnaire or transfer disclosure statement this should provide you and your agent the ability to potentially request a credit or repair. Of course, this is null and void if the home is a foreclosure or trustee/estate sale as limited disclosures are provided and the seller will most likely not have knowledge of these specifics about the home.

Bottom line, review all with your agent and determine your options.
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John Juarez, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sat Nov 13, 2010
There is no clear cut answer based on the information that you have provided. The answer may be different if you are still in the contingency period of your contract; different yet, if you have released contingencies; again, different if you have closed escrow and the house is yours.
You mention that damage was “not disclosed”. That implies that the seller knows or you believe he knows that there was damage. If a seller concealed important information about the condition of the house from you, there is a different answer to your question.
You said the seller instructions where that the deck not be inspected. Why? Why did you agree to this condition? If you received an inspection report from the seller that excluded the deck, why did you not get it inspected?
You should put your questions to you agent who may need to consult with his broker and with the seller’s agent and broker. Perhaps legal counsel is also required. For amounts under $7,500 in California, there is also the possibility of small claims court if you have truly been wronged…and can prove it.
Good luck.
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Aida Pinto, Agent, Downey, CA
Sat Nov 13, 2010
What does the purchase contract say? Who was supposed to pay for it the buyer or the seller? In CA, a termite inspection is not required as someone said. Termite work and inspection is negotiable at the time of making the offer unless it's an FHA offer then, it's a lender requirement.

All my short sale listings I have sold with FHA financing have all required Termite clearance, but the bank has paid for it.

Did you buy the property in AS IS condition? Most of REO's I have sold require the buyer to buy in AS IS and present condition and no termite clearance is given. If the lender requires it the Buyer must pay of it. I hope this helps.

Hate to say it but your agent should be advising you on this and if you are not being represented by a broker, this is one of the reason why a buyer should never buy without representation.

Go get yourself a Realtor/Broker who knows what they are doing. That is my best advise.
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Cricket Yee, Agent, Sherman Oaks, CA
Sat Nov 13, 2010
It depends if the property has closed or not. If you are still in your inspection period, then I think it is totally negotiable. The seller isn't going to like it, but you can ask.

If it has already closed, it becomes a legal issue. If you signed off on your inspection contingency and did not perform and inspection, you may have a hard time getting any money from the seller.
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Karen Anders…, Agent, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Sat Nov 13, 2010
The answer really depends on whether or not your contract indicated that the seller was to provide a copy of the termite report or and repairs. Although some think this is required, it is all negotiable between buyer and seller. Especially in our present market where there are so many short sales and REO's the seller os often wil not provide even a REPORT much less the repairs. In this case it would have been your DUE DILIGENCE to pbtain a report to determine the extent of any damage or infestation and the cost of the repirs, and then you could choose to move forward, renegotiate your offer or just walk away from the transaction (provided you were still within your contingency time frame to do so).

As your advocate it would've been prudent for your agent to encourage you to have the insepction done at your expense (very minimal compared to what you are dealing with now). so you would have known exactly what to expect.

I know this isn't very comforting, but the disslcoures that the buyers sign are pretty clear that even though the seller is required to disclose KNOWN issues, the burden for all investigation lies with the BUYER.

Best reagrds,

Karen Anderson
Keller WIlliams Realty-L.A. Harbor
(310) 251-2883
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Sonsie Conroy, Agent, San Luis Obispo, CA
Sat Nov 13, 2010
In CA, a termite inspection is required, and you should have gotten a termite report before you completed the sale...with enough time to approve or disapprove of it. Decks may or may not have to be inspected...this is an issue in many sales. If the seller knew the deck was damaged, he or she should have disclosed that information whether or not the deck was officially inspected.

If the deal is not completed, you can most certainly ask for repairs or cash to make your own repairs. Whether the seller agrees is another matter. In a home sale, nearly everything is negotiable. The issue for you is whether or not the home is such a deal that you are willing to take it on even with termite damage to the decks.

If the deal has been closed, you might want to explore legal remedies if the amount of the damage is significant and if you are sure that the owner knew about the damage and did not disclose it. If you're looking at a couple of hundred dollars, it's probably not worth the hassle and legal expense. For $1000, maybe a lawyer letter would net you some compensation and be worth looking into. It is illegal to NOT disclose material facts about the residence if you are the seller (or, if you are the agent and knew about the issue).

Good luck with this!
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Dave Griswol…, Agent, Bridgewater, NJ
Sat Nov 13, 2010
Hi C, If you have already purchased the home, then it goes under "Let the Buyer beware", If you didn't have an inspection for termites, or there was no disclosure then the answer is No.
If you did have inspection for termites then i was call your Attorney as they could advise you in the legal matter of this.

All the Best
Dave & Lisa
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