Home Buying in Malden>Question Details

Mike M, Home Buyer in 02148

We're about to buy a house, closing is 3 weeks, I just found out there's a broken window. It's a short sale,

Asked by Mike M, 02148 Mon Aug 4, 2008

the previous owners are moving their stuff out...is there anything I can do about it? What if they break more windows out of spite? Am I SOL? Can someone step in and make them pay for the window and other possible damages? And say if there are major damages and we back out now (we already signed the P&S, getting a loan as we speak), is there any way we can get the deposit back since it's totally not our fault?

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The tricky part is that the property is a short sale and you are dealing with the bank so usually they have very strict rules about "As is" sales. However, traditionally you should have a "final walk through" of the property written into the P/S (ask your attorney or your agent) before you close and if the property is not in the condition it was the day you signed the P/S you should have recourse at the closing table. Have your attorney bring it up at prior to closing and let them know a cash back of some sort needs to be negotiated. I would not let it in their hands to fix ... I suggest you simply get the money and fix it yourselves. If they refuse to pay you should have the right to walk on the deal and keep your deposit but you need to check with your attorney and ask about the specific language regarding condition of the property in your P/S. If there are major damages and you haven't gotten commitment from the bank they may not give you the loan once they enter the property for appraisal so perhaps at that time you cold have your attorneys discuss an immediate fix by the seller. Hopefully you have a mortgage contingency of some sort because you could always use that to get out of the deal although something tells me because it is a short sale the property is "As is" and therefore you had to sign a bank P/S.

Hope that helps. Good luck!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 5, 2008
Hi Mike,

First of all...congratulations on getting approval of a short sale. You've gotten over the biggest hurdle. As for the broken window, assuming it happened AFTER you signed P&S, inform your real estate agent and attorney right away. One of them should contact the sellers' agent and request that they make the repair prior to closing. If they are decent people, they will do it. If they are not decent, at least they know you are "on to them" and they will hopefully think twice before doing more damage. If you get to the final walkthrough, as Mike mentioned in his reply, and the window is still broken (but was supposed to have been fixed) call your agent and/or attorney again. This repair will hopefully be made prior to closing as there will not be any money for "holdbacks" since it is a short sale...the sellers' mortgage holder is already taking a loss and will not pay for any damages incurred by the sellers. Again, try to address it now...before the closing...or you are, indeed, SOL.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 5, 2008
Good question.
This is a legal problem ... ask your attorney about it. The "final walkthrough" which usually occurs up to 24 hrs. before the closing is designed to ID problems like this. You may need to have adjustments made (financially) at the closing to resolve this. Ask the attorney how to proceed ... you definately would not want to miss a buying opportunity due to a broken window. Do some offensive work and get three quotes for this type of repair.
Good luck,
Web Reference: http://www.mphughes.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 5, 2008
Hey guys! Thanks for all the answers. OK, I guess it's somewhat anticlimatic. I contacted my agent and she got in touch with the other side. We had threatened that if there are major damages we will not sign the papers until they fix it. They said that the window was already broken. I had taken some pictures and upon careful inspection, the window was indeed broken. When we checked out the house initially, they had the blinds half opened so we missed it. It was likely just the outer pane so we didn't feel a draft. We didn't really have a case there but what we got out of the call was...they agreed to take care of the lawn as it's growing wildly and trim the hedges. We're hoping they can also take care of a neighbor's fence that fell onto our side too...no word on that yet. Our closing is next Wednesday and I assume we'll do a final walkthrough that morning.

Again, thanks for all the answers! We will update if anything else interesting happens!!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 21, 2008
HEy Mike,

My opinion after 8 years in the business. A short sale is different from a bank owned (REO) property.

A bank owned property is almost always AS IS and no changes to the P&S. So if the local kids smash windows before closing you are stuck. However, I would venture that if the local kids stole copper from an unsecured REO you may have a case.

With a short sale you have a P&S Agreement directly with the owner/seller and it said that you are buying the property for x price and in the current state you preivewed it from the owner. Just like a regular transaction. If they cause damage to the property prior to your possession I believe they will need to fix the problem by either replacing the window or compensating you $$$$ monetarily at closing. Remember the short sale term really is the sellers contingency. They are requesting forgiveness (that is a reduce price ) from their bank that they promised to pay however many years ago .

If you have anymore questions feel free to contact me anytime.-Karissa Moore
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 12, 2008
As every real estate transaction is unique...I would love to hear how your situation plays out. This is a very important part of "continuing education" for realtors! Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 6, 2008
sure I am interested in an update.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 6, 2008
I ended up calling City Hall and made sure it's paid off. The person on the phone sounded like she didn't give a crap but told me it's all set. I don't need to worry about it till November. My closing "attorney" was pretty useless as he never got back to me. I guess you get what you pay for. Aside from that, the closing went pretty well. We're working on the house constantly. Still got ways to go but we want to do it right. Thanks for all the help everyone! I would invite you all to the housewarming party but that'll be a little strange. =)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 19, 2008
Hi Mike,
You should contact the closing attorney or your own attorney. The final water bill should have been taken care of prior to the closing typically. You may want to re-read all those closing documents just to be sure it wasn't a responsibility you assumed in the purchase.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 6, 2008
Thanks for your input, Lori. So my closing was last week and things went smoothly. We've been working on the house over the long weekend and as soon as I get out of work. My dad even took 2 weeks off his work to help out. We fixed a wall that was in bad shape, removed the chimney, tore down a wall to make the 2 living rooms into 1, removed wallpaper. Still has a lot of work to be done but we're in the process.

I do have another question if anyone can help out - yesterday we go our first bill. The problem is that it's the water bill which the last owner didn't pay. It's over $1000 with a late penalty. What do I even contact regarding this? I'm going to try to call City Hall but I'm sure they're more concerned about getting their money any way possible. Can I somehow get the previous owners to assume the responsibility?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 4, 2008
The owners of the home should fix this before you take possession of the property. The sellers bank would not be responsible. If the owners cannot fix the window due to financial constraints, if you want the house, you could just close on the property and fix the window yourself. In most cases, sellers who do short sales care about their credit or they would have just walked away from the home. If they care about their credit, chances are they will also care about making sure you close on the house. Someone could have accidentially broke the one window. If you are in doubt (this may sound far fetched) about the other windows being broken out of spite, have a friend with a cell phone outside the home while you are at the closing.

I also sense a little buyers remorse. This is perfectly normal. If you are thinking of not proceeding with the home purchase, you should consult an attorney and speak to your agent. Your deposit, at this point could be at risk.
Web Reference: http://LoriLincolnTeam.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 31, 2008
Thanks for the update, hope for the best on Wednesday!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 30, 2008
Thanks Mike, Judy, TerritoryRE for the replies! Alright, I think first I'll let my agent know. I still haven't gotten in touch with my attorney yet (as he/she is more for being there for the closing). I do have a couple of pictures of the house we took a couple weeks back when the window was intact. I'll definitely try to get this rolling in the next couple days. Does anyone care for me to update? No need to respond if there's no interest. Thanks again!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 5, 2008
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