Walk through Problem #2.

Asked by Bryan Alban, Los Angeles, CCA Mon Jun 23, 2008

So I found this leak in the kitchen ceiling during the walk through. The seller is refusing to pay for the repairs. This does not make any sense to me, since if I back out of the purchase, they will have to make the repairs before they put it on the market again. What are they thinking???

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Kevin Keyser’s answer
Kevin Keyser, Agent, West Hollywood, CA
Mon Jun 23, 2008
Bryan,
One question: when you say you found this "during the walk through" do you mean during your physical inspection, and before you removed your physical inspection contingency? Or do you mean during the final walthrough, which is usually done within 5 days of closing? Have you removed all your contingencies? If you have then you definitely need to consult with a real estate lawyer before you cancel, or you may be in jeopardy of losing your deposit. I know it sounds like it makes no sense, but the seller could try to keep it, so make sure you know where you stand.

It sounds like you are dealing with a stubborn seller. Or a seller who is getting bad advice from their agent. They will indeed have to disclose this problem to any future buyers, and they might put themselves in danger of getting lower offers... so they have a lot to lose. We had a seller who was like this, and refused to fix an air conditioning problem that would have been only about two thousand dollars. That buyer walked away and we ultimately found the seller a lower offer about a month later that she should have also taken but did not. Now she would be lucky if she sold the unit for $150,000 LESS than the lowest offer we got for her, because while the high end properties in LA have held value some of the condos have not. Being stubborn definitely has its price.

Have a long talk with your agent and perhaps a real estate attorney, because a seller can hold on to your deposit and make your life hell, no matter how wrong they are. This is just the way the law is written and you can spend months dealing with trying to get the deposit back... no matter how right you are!
Web Reference:  http://www.keyserhomes.com
1 vote
Lmw, , Los Angeles County, CA
Mon Jul 27, 2009
Kevin & Jovana Keyser -- No, that is not "the way the law is written".. it is the way that nasty escrow documents are written and which a smart RE agent (or even better, attorney) will advise the Buyer to modify before entering into escrow. The Deposit money should be returned without any need for a sign-off by the Seller if in fact the conditions for returning the deposit have been met -- in this case, cancellation based on failure of inspection.
0 votes
Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Fri Jul 4, 2008
Well, this really depends on the situation, the motivation of the seller,and the transaction itself. It's hard to say what is going on from the information you have given.
I will say, that some sellers become annoyed with a long list of "fix-it's" when their homes are selling for far less then they hoped to begin with.
0 votes
Bryan Alban, Home Buyer, Los Angeles, CCA
Wed Jun 25, 2008
Well I instructed my agent to cancel the contract. I really think it's unreasonable for the seller not to make the repairs. Maybe I'll bid on it again when they make the repairs and put it back on the market. ; )
0 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Tue Jun 24, 2008
Actually the question asked was "what are they thinking.... since if I back out... they will have to make repairs before they put in on the market again"...

but I understand... point taken.
0 votes
Karen Miller, Agent, Long Beach, CA
Tue Jun 24, 2008
Elvis,

Of course it would be prudent to repair the damage. That wasn't the question asked. Another realtor had suggested checking with an attornery to learn what the seller's responsibilities are. That is a waste of money, since they seller's aren't obligated to make repairs. I hate to see people waste money.

Karen Miller
0 votes
Stewart Four…, , 90266
Tue Jun 24, 2008
There are a number of reasons the seller may be refusing the repairs. One of which he may just be trying to make you mad because he has a better back up offer.

Most of the issues in this situation have already been addressed by competent Realtors, before my response.

So let me just summarize by saying that if you read your contract (assuming it’s an updated CAR form purchase contract) you will see that the sellers have no obligation to respond to your request for repairs.

Therefore since the ball is in your court, you and your Realtor should try to determine why you think the seller is acting irrationally, and then take advantage of what ever situation that is. Do your homework first then make the best choice. Cooler heads usually prevail.

Stewart L. Fournier
310-968-1730
0 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Mon Jun 23, 2008
This is California. The seller's have no obligation to make requested repairs other than bracing the water heater & providing smoke detectors.
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We're not necessarily talking about "obligation", Karen. But I presume (even though California RE law is so very different than the rest of the country) that they will have to "disclose" the problem, assuming it's not repaired, to future buyers.

Wouldn't it be prudent to repair (or credit) it for the bird-in-the-hand?
0 votes
Karen Miller, Agent, Long Beach, CA
Mon Jun 23, 2008
Sorry Diana,
This is California. The seller's have no obligation to make requested repairs other than bracing the water heater & providing smoke detectors.

Karen Miller
0 votes
Diana Siegel, , Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Mon Jun 23, 2008
You are correct. The seller will have to disclose this problem to their next buyer. But before you
walk away, check what your contract states about the sellers financial repair responsibilites with your agent or an attorney.
0 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Mon Jun 23, 2008
I had a listing where the inspector found a leak in the kitchen ceiling, where the bathroom was, during the inspection. My client, the seller, was complaining and complaining oh it's going to cost me so much I'm not paying how dare they they're stealing the house. I offered to split the cost of the repair, which I suspected wasn't going to be very much because I'd seen where it was leaking, and I had a plumber friend. She called her own plumber in. It cost $27 to fix. She didn't even ask me to pay half. Just a thought.
0 votes
Bryan Alban, Home Buyer, Los Angeles, CCA
Mon Jun 23, 2008
That's the thing, we told them we are walking away. We already have another property we're ready to put an offer in on.
0 votes
Nervous, Home Buyer, 02215
Mon Jun 23, 2008
They probably know that you wont walk away.
0 votes
Bryan Alban, Home Buyer, Los Angeles, CCA
Mon Jun 23, 2008
Elvis,

That's exactley what me and my agent are saying.
0 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Mon Jun 23, 2008
What are they thinking?

Apparently they're NOT thinking, because as you point out... they either have to credit/repair for the buyer in hand (who's obviously closing in a few days), or repair for the next buyer, who will purchase for some "unknown amount" (maybe not as high as you've paid), and close at some "unknown time/date"...maybe 90 days or more from now... so more carrying costs.
0 votes
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