What are my obligations to pay for repairs after closing on a sale?

Asked by mackroe, Minneapolis, MN Wed Nov 14, 2012

Two days after closing on a home the buyer asked me to pay for a leaking faucet. We did not disclose it on the sellers disclosure since it did not seem material. The home inspection also did not catch it and the buyer said that if it had they would have asked us to address before closing.

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Maria Cipollone’s answer
Maria Cipoll…, Agent, Coral Springs, FL
Wed Nov 14, 2012
You are responsible for whatever the agreement was between you and the buyer. Contact your real estate agent and ask him/her to review your sales contract and tell you what are your obligations in this case.

Best of Luck,

Maria Cipollone

Century 21 Tenace

2 votes
Gary Geer, Agent, Antioch, IL
Thu Nov 22, 2012
Talk to the buyers in good faith. Let them know you are willing to work with them for a reasonable repair. Ask them to share with the cost if possible. If you used an attorney to close your home sale get the attorney involved to help if necessary. Hope everything works out for you.
0 votes
I.bought.it.…, , Outside U.S.
Thu Nov 22, 2012
Is that all you didn't disclose?

Approach them in good faith and ask them to go through the house again, immediately or as close to it as possible, to find anything they think should have been in working order at closing, including the leaky faucet. Ask them to show that it's not working to you or to an impartial third party. Have them get estimates or print out prices for parts and have them itemize the repairs with the total costs for each.

Sit down with them within the week and go over the list. If you think the repair fees are too expensive, make a supported (researched) counter offer, have Google be your mediator, or just have a speaker phone handy so you can call a plumber or electrician to get a better idea of actual costs. Hash it out until you're done; you both want this over with. If they're convinced you want them to be happy with the house (and that's the reason for you're dragging them through this process) they'll very likely be reasonable.

You should both sign a document saying that all repair costs from now forward are up to the buyer. Pay them for the repairs on the list.

Done. In writing. No room for questions.

Send them a Christmas card.
0 votes
Cody Anderson, Agent, Minneapolis, MN
Tue Nov 20, 2012
I personally would just pay for the new faucet. How much are they asking you for? Arbitration is costly and I'm pretty sure an arbitrator would rule in favor of the buyer.
I always ask my sellers to over disclose! Its better to cover your ASSets.
0 votes
Mike Kelcher, Agent, Burnesville, MN
Mon Nov 19, 2012
Oops, I forgot to answer your other question. You asked, "My concern is what kind of obligations am I opening myself up to by doing so? Will they come back a month from now and want money for something else?"

They certainly could contact you a month from now, or a year from now, and numerous times pertaining to numerous "issues". As time goes by, lines #217-219 become less of an issue since your only obligation was to have things in good working order "at the time of closing".

If down the road, it's discovered that an outlet is "dead", a pipe is leaking, the furnace fan doesn't work, the water heater leaks, etc. etc. the buyer's ability to claim that "it was like that right after closing" will become a weakening argument as time passes.

However, if something does come up down the road, that is a material fact that wasn't disclosed, that affects the buyers use or enjoyment of the property...then...it's an issue that will need to be addressed at that time. If a leaky faucet is all you failed to disclose, then, you should simply not worry and sleep well.
0 votes
Mike Kelcher, Agent, Burnesville, MN
Mon Nov 19, 2012
There's two ways to look at this situation. The first has already been addressed which is "disclosure". It seems that it's "debatable" whether or not a leaky faucet is something that rises to the level of something that affects the buyer's use or enjoyment of the property, but I tend to agree with the previous responses.

The more important issue, which isn't as "debatable", is found on lines #217-219 on page #6 of the purchase agreement. That's the part where you (the seller) agreed that the plumbing (and other things), would be in good working order at the time of closing. A leaky faucet would be plumbing that is not in good working order.

The fact that the buyers conducted an inspection is merely something they did, at their expense, for their benefit. If something was overlooked, it doesn't change anything agreed to in the purchase agreement...which brings us back your obligation in lines #217-219 again.

0 votes
mackroe, Home Seller, Minneapolis, MN
Wed Nov 14, 2012
Thank you for the responses. This is the first property I have ever sold and was unaware of everything that required disclosure. However I don't feel that a dripping faucet rises to the level of interfering with the buyers future enjoyment of the property. It was an older home and my wife and I spent over $5000 fixing it up prior to listing and an additional $500 fixing issues identified in the home inspection for them and would have gladly addressed this issue as well if identified but was told not to make any changes to the property after the inspection. What has riled me is that I was initially contacted over a month ago and offered to pay a fixed portion of the cost of repair to which I received no response until today when they want twice the amount. The money is not the issue so I will most likely just pay it. My concern is what kind of obligations am I opening myself up to by doing so? Will they come back a month from now and want money for something else? Is this type of thing common? My family and I have moved on and love our new home and just want to close this chapter.
0 votes
Mark Claesse…, Agent, Coon Rapids, MN
Wed Nov 14, 2012
I also agree with Cameron 100%. You should have disclosed it. NOTHING should ever be skipped because you feel it "did not seem material". It is all material. I also agree that it puts you in jeapardy of non-disclosure and that could be very serious, especially if they start looking for other things you may have not disclosed.

I highly recommend paying for the faucet to be fixed. Smile and be very happy they are not suing you. This will shut them up quickly and you are truly doing the right thing, because this should have been fixed prior to closing anyway.

0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Bloomington, MN
Wed Nov 14, 2012
I would agree with Cameron. In this particular situation you would only fix the faucet if you wanted to do the repairs in good faith for the buyer. There is no contractual obligation to fix it, and I highly doubt the buyer will take you into arbitration (if you both agreed) over something this minor.
0 votes
Cameron Piper, Agent, Forest Lake, MN
Wed Nov 14, 2012
MN property disclosure says that you must disclose anything that could potential interfere with the buyers future enjoyment of the property. I would say that you probably should have disclosed the faucet issue just to be safe.

That said, you have no real obligation under the terms of the purchase agreement to fix or repair issues after the fact. Keep in mind that the seller could attempt to pursue you for nondisclosure, but my guess is that would be unlikely due to the cost involved and the relative cost to repaid the faucet.

You might consider fixing the faucet as a gesture of good will, but I would only do so if they were to sign something saying that they have no future claim for this issue on a nondisclosure basis.

Good Luck!!

Cameron Piper
Coldwell Banker Burnet
licensed MN Real Estate Broker
Web Reference:  http://www.CamPiper.com
0 votes
Jessica Edwa…, Agent, minneapolis, MN
Wed Nov 14, 2012
To be absolutely clear, any obligation you have after the sale closes is based upon your actions prior to closing:
- Did you agree to do work that was not completed?
- Were you honest & complete in your disclosure about the property condtion?
- Did damage occur as a result of your move?
- Was there an undocumented discussion of work to be completed?
Any of these might expose you to liability after the sale. Your agent should continue to be your touch point through the attempts to reach a "gentlemen's agreement".
If you cannot reach such an agreement, you might end up in arbitration or court, depending on what means of problem resolution you agreed to at the time of sale. Arbitration can occur quite quickly (approximately 6 months). It's binding, but you do have a chance to represent your side with evidence & even a lawyer. If you end up in court, court & legal costs alone may exceed the value of the issue. Court will usually take a minimum of 10-12 months. Hope this clarifies the situation.
0 votes
Joel Friday, Agent, Coon Rapids, MN
Wed Nov 14, 2012
If you knew about, you should take care of it to avoid future issues. As the other agent said, talk to your agent for the best method of handling this claim.
0 votes
Doc & Ellen…, Agent, San Antonio, TX
Wed Nov 14, 2012
If you knew about it and did not disclose it, your best course of action to avoid future claims might be to pay for the repairs. Failure to disclose in most states can be VERY Expensive.

Good Luck,

Doc Stephens, REALTOR
0 votes
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