What to do when a home is vandalized by the seller during closing period?

Asked by Ito, 11235 Sat Sep 3, 2011

We are in the last stage of closing and recoding. Mean while the seller is removing item from the home such as boiler,alarm system,sprinkler timer door knobs,etc..

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Marita Topmi…, Agent, Indianapolis, IN
Sat Sep 3, 2011

Notify the Broker of the property first. Tell him to notify the prior owners to
replace everything immediately - you are contacting your attorney and the
bank. According to contracts we use, the seller is responsible to maintain
the property in the same condition as when you purchased.

Contact your attorney. You should not close until the items are properly replaced.

Marita Topmiller
1 vote
Elaine Cooper, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Sat Sep 3, 2011
Hello Ito,

You need to notify your attorney about this situation right away! Your contract specifies what agreed upon items the owner can take from the home, and I'm pretty sure the boiler is not one of them. As I said, speak with your attorney who will advise you how to proceed.


Elaine Cooper
Real Estate Salesperson
Fillmore Real Estate
Office: 718-858-4700/Cell: 917-544-2662
1 vote
Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Sat Sep 3, 2011
This is actually more common that people realize:

They created a program "Cash for Keys" whereby the occupant gets $1000 to $3000 to move quickly and without any damage.

It is funny that they would jeopardize that money for a little revenge and frustration.

You should have your Realtor notify the Bank; the Bank has to return the property to the condition at the time you signed the Contract. The Bank will not be happy.

Good luck and may God bless
1 vote
Annette Levi…, , New York, NY
Wed Sep 7, 2011
There aren't stages of closing. Before your scheduled closing date, usually a day or two, you should be doing a walk through with your realtor. If items are missing your realtor is supposed to contact the seller to find out when are they replacing the items. You should be contacting your lawyer about the problem.
0 votes
Jolie Muss, , Upper West Side, New York, NY
Wed Sep 7, 2011
I hope you had your own lawyer prepare the contract and I hope the lawyer attached a list of what is included and ideally money in escrow to cover delay in moving out, damage and cleanup.Also I hope you had a dutiful buyer's broker. Otherwise you are in deep trouble..Have you done the walk thru yet? (Funny, I posted a few days ago about a similar situation I heard about when I attended Broker's school)
Web Reference:  http://joliemuss.com
0 votes
Mitchell Fel…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Sat Sep 3, 2011
Dear Ito:

It all depends on the wording in the contract. Most contracts state that the house is being sold as-is, meaning it should be in the same condition as is was when the buyer viewed the house. A normal contract of sale usually would also guarantee and represent that the electrical system, heating system and plumbing system be in working order and free of leaks. In addition, usually the roof is guaranteed to be free of leaks. This is only up until the closing. Once the closing is finished, any problems are now the new buyers headache. A typical contract does not make any warranties after the closing. Because of this, the buyers do a "final walk-through" the day of or before the closing to make sure that the house is in the same condition as it was when they last saw it.

If the condition had been changed, as would be the case in your example, the seller would have to fix or give financial consideration to the buyers if the contract was worded on the "normal" fashion (here in Brooklyn at least). If your contract was not worded in the "normal fashion, you may have no recourse. As an example, when someone purchases a foreclosure property, most of the time the property is being sold strictly as-is, meaning that you have to take it in whatever condition it is in at the time of the closing and you do not get any warrrantees or guarantees at all. The other extreme is when you are dealing with new construction... with new construction, the seller must give the buyers a full one year warrantee on virtually everything in the house!

So in order to answer your question, you need to know how your contract is worded. Your lawyer should be helping you with all of this.

One more thing, often times it is very hard to prove that the condition has changed, if you do not have concrete evidence to support that, you will not win in a court of law. Please bear in mind that I am not an attorney and I cannot give legal advice, this answer is just my humble opinion after being in the real estate business since 1993. You must speak to your attorney.

Mitchell S. Feldman
Associate Broker/ Director of Sales
Madison Estates & Properties, Inc.
Office: (718) 645-1665/ Cell: (917) 805-0783
Email: MitchellSFeldman@aol.com
0 votes
Martina Ryan, Agent, Flushing, NY
Sat Sep 3, 2011
Notify your attorney. You should be compensated for this by whoever owns the property at this stage. There should be documentation as to what the house contained when you went into contract. Ask for these items to be replaced or have your attorney include them in the closing costs. Is this a short sale?
0 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Sat Sep 3, 2011
At this time, it's in your best interest to consult with your attorney...
0 votes
Mike Sullivan, Agent, Gainesville, FL
Sat Sep 3, 2011
Your contract probably stipulates the seller has the responsibility to maintain the home in the same condition as seen when the contract was initiated until closing. Most have the ability to walk away if not in the same condition....an option would be to renegotiate the price. In either event, your attorney should be able to advise you how best to proceed.

the intent of this clause is to safeguard against vandalism, regardless of how/who does it!

Hope this helps!
0 votes
Shanna Rogers, Agent, Murrieta, CA
Sat Sep 3, 2011
Hi Ito,

Read your contract. It should state that the seller will leave the property in the same condition as it was in on the date you made your offer. See if the contract states recourse you can take if it's not (i.e. cancel contract, small claims courts, etc.). Contact a local Real Estate Attorney to see how you should proceed.

Good luck.

Shanna Rogers
SR Realty
0 votes
Search Advice
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more