Asked by Seena Smith, Concord, CA Mon Nov 2, 2009


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Merrybee, Home Buyer, Pinole, CA
Thu Nov 5, 2009
Seena~ Be sure to check on Angie'sList.com to see if the lateral sewer company you are working with is not ripping you off. Get a couple of free camera inspections, as you will learn which roots are tearing up your sewer pipe and can modify/eliminate that if you wish. My quotes varied hugely ($4800 to $14,500 for same job.) Ask if you can get by for a few years with regular cleanouts. The new laterals are all one piece hard, flexible pipe that gets pulled through your existing pipe without tearing up walkways. I had mine done for just under $5k after living with the issue (cleanouts every two years, then every year and a half, then every 13 months...) as it deteriorated and I saved my pennies. Yours may be "livable" with a similar annual cleanout. The company I chose gave me a small senior discount - they did a great job here in Pinole, and the inspectors were impressed (yes, you have to have city inspectors all along the process, which should be included in your quote.) They were called Streamline Plumbing, and I was told by "Greg" that they do no regular plumbing, just lateral replacements. Good luck in the muck.
3 votes
Carol McAlis…, Agent, Nashville, TN
Mon Nov 2, 2009

They may have known and maybe not. I had something happen quite the same. They quoted 5-10k to repair the line from house to street and did not include any equipment they needed to rent. Now the good news, A very dear friend of mine had me call a Leak Detection company. They can find the pipe issue very easily with their equipment. I called, within 20 minutes he found the broken pipe. Dug up the entire area, replaced the broken pipe and filled back at a cost of $350. A far cry for 5-10k. i would consult an attorney but given the short sale, i agree there is no money there. You may have different rules about repair than we do here, but I know it cost me a fraction to repair the break rather than the entire line. Good luck
1 vote
Kathleen Lor…, Agent, Baxter, MN
Mon Nov 2, 2009
I am assuming that you got a great price on this property, congratulations on yur new home !
There probably was no knowledge of a problem as you lived there for a week without a problem and then this happened. It can and it will and is part of the joy of owning property. It is unfortunate and hard to swallow but........you will need to fix it.
Prior knowledge or cover ups are a different matter! Check with your city since from what you write it seems to be a city system to see of there were prior calls or issues with this property.
Web Reference:  http://topbrainerdagent.com
1 vote
CJ Brasiel, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Nov 2, 2009
Seena -

Did you get a home warranty? If so, some of the work may be covered.
I agree with Catherine below. If you do not have a way of proving the seller knew it will be hard to challenge an AS IS sale.

Good luck.
1 vote
Heather Wrig…, Agent, The Dalles, OR
Sat Feb 26, 2011
I would check with the home warranty company if you have one. They may be able to help. Otherwise, speak with a real estate attorney. I wish you the best of luck. Welcome to homeownership even though its not starting off great.
0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Fri Feb 25, 2011
Confer with an attorney seller might not have known... am I am sure you signed a document you purchased the home "As Is" ... did you have an inspection completed on the home?

Speak with your buyers agent

Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Loan Officer, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors
0 votes
Sindy Verdugo, Agent, Long Beach, CA
Fri Feb 25, 2011
Kathleen Lordbock,

Great answer. The joys of home ownership.

Web Reference:  http://www.sindyverdugo.com
0 votes
Sindy Verdugo, Agent, Long Beach, CA
Fri Feb 25, 2011
Did you have an inspection? Did it show up on the inspection report? If it did not show up on your inspection, it may not have been an issue.

Often things like this happen when a new family moves into a house. The house may be older, the plumbing may be older and the people that lived there used the plumbing less than you do now. The plumbing got used to the old owners. You may have more people or just different use habits.

I bought my parents house. Right after I moved in the waterheater went out and had to be replaced. My dad told me it had worked for him and my mom fine for the last 20 years.

Sewers go out. Often when homes change owners. Sucks.
Web Reference:  http://www.sindyverdugo.com
0 votes
Dot Chance, Agent, Burbank, CA
Mon Nov 2, 2009

How unfortunate for you. As others have said, it is likely that the seller did not know about the problem and even if they did they must be in extreme financial difficulty.

Most people do not have a sewer line inspection even though they have the right to. I am assuming you didn't have this inspection. It is an expense most people do not want, but in a case like yours it would have ended up saving you this headache.

Best to you!
Web Reference:  http://www.DotChance.com
0 votes
Bob Georgiou, Agent, Danville, CA
Mon Nov 2, 2009
It's interesting that the people you are talking to are claiming to know what the seller's knew and didn't know. From a short sale perspective the seller gains very little from a lack of disclosure since they have no money and the costs are getting shifted away from them in any case. I would imagine a responsible company would say that the condition existed before and detail what would be happening in the home. There are many conditions like this on plumbing lines whose simptoms are ordinary and very correctable without some knowledge of a serious peroblem.

For example older ceramic piping is notorious for roots growing into the pipes at the joints causing cracks (or cracks in general from other causes) and eventual failure. The conditions in the home would be slow drainage which can sometimes be corrected with drain cleaners that kill the vegetation temporarily.

As a short sale its unfortunate that this happened to you but there is little recourse. Do call your agent. Do call the listing agent.

The last piece of bad news is that trying to litigate a 10k problem isn't worth the bigger headache of lawyers and cost of litigation.
Web Reference:  http://bob2sell.com
0 votes
Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Mon Nov 2, 2009
Typically, for older homes, property inspections and sewer lateral testing are recommended, which may be borne by either the seller or the buyer. Problems with the sewer line are not easily detected unlessthe line is tested or until a problem occurs.

In certain cities, sewer lateral testing is mandated, and if it fails, it needs to be replaced within so many months from closing date. If this is a requirement, and your realtor fairled to advise you appropriately, you may have some recourse.

I am wondering if you signed off on a document waiving your right to inspections against the recommendation of your realtor.

At what point does the problem start? The city is responsible up to the curb leading to your house. You sound as if you've already done the test and have identified or confirmed that the sewer lateral will need to be replaced. You may want to get a second opinion as to the cost of replacement by reputable companies.
Web Reference:  http://www.PacitaRealtor.com
0 votes
Bernard Gibb…, Agent, Danville, CA
Mon Nov 2, 2009
Your first action should certainly be to talk to your agent about this, however Short SAles are virtually always sold "As Is". That is one of the reasons you get the home at a discounted price.

Yes, I'm sure you got a full set of Disclosures when you bought the home, but even if you find a problem that the seller knew about (or should have known about) and did not disclose, getting any compensation is unlikely. The seller is most likely already in financial difficulty, otherwise, why was it a Short Sale? You can't get any money from somebody who doesn't have any. This is one point that all agents should be making clear to potential buyers of Short Sales.

Bernard Gibbons

Bernard Gibbons, Realtor, e-PRO Certified Internet Specialist, DRE License # 01331583
J. Rockcliff Realtors, 15 Railroad Avenue, Danville, CA 94526
Phone (925) 997-1585

See all homes for sale in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties
at http://www.BernardGibbons.com
0 votes
Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Mon Nov 2, 2009
Hi Seena,

If a reasonable person should have known there was an issue then you have options! Even if the property is sold "AS IS" it does not mean the Seller is not still obligated to disclose material issues.

Assuming you used the CAR Residential Purchase Agreement to purchase the property, and this is very important, review Para 17 "Dispute Resolution" to obtain a basic understanding of your options. Note that you can file a suit in Small Claims Court up to $7,500. See the following link for more information:

Here's another idea:
As you call around for contractor repair quotes, ask if the contractor has any records of prior work being done at your new address as this could substantiate the seller's prior knowledge of a sewer issue.

Best, Steve
0 votes
Cathy Catale…, Agent, staten island, NY
Mon Nov 2, 2009
Unfortantely if a seller claims they had no knowledge of any defect with the home and if you're unable to prove other wise, then I believe you may be out of luck. What I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND is that you contact the attorney that represented you and see if there is anything in your contract that gives you some protection.

The other problem is that this is a short sale, short sales that I have sold in the past are usually "as is". If that seller has finanical problems that has caused them to have a short sale, then odds are that there is no money for any repairs.

Good Luck.
0 votes
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