Q: The sellers of the home we bought hired a septic tank contractor to inspect and pump the sewer system. During this work, they cut off two sections of the front entrance area to allow access to the tank. When they’re done, they just put the cut pieces in place so they’re unsightly, uneven, and likely to trip someone. When we made our offer to buy this home, it had a beautiful concrete entrance that was pleasant to look at. Now the sellers and their agent say it is up to us to replace the damaged sidewalk as a temporary removal was required to meet the terms of sale. Do we really have to fix this ourselves or is it the seller’s responsibility?
A: You have made an offer to buy a property in the state it was in at the time it was marketed. Since the offer was accepted, this condition was adversely changed by contractors hired by the sellers. Therefore, sellers should take responsibility for the damage caused by their contractor. It is up to them to restore the conditions that existed at the time the contract of sale was signed.
The excuses offered by the sellers and their agent are not acceptable. Suppose the seller’s chimney sweep damaged the roof? Would that be your problem too? What if the seller’s painter cracked a window? Do you then have to replace the glass? The answers here are obvious, and the current case is no different.
The sellers hired a septic tank contractor as prescribed in the purchase agreement. Fulfilling this obligation has not empowered them to vilify the property at your expense. Either the sellers or their contractor should restore the property to the conditions that existed when you submitted your offer. Your agent, not your agent, should help you drive this reasonable demand. Hopefully you have your own agent on this transaction.
Q: The house I am buying is more than 100 years old and there seems to be some structural issues. The main girder in the basement cracked and caused the upper floor to sag. The sellers have installed temporary supports and say permanent repairs can be done at a later date for about $ 1,000. Should I consider buying this house or walking away cautiously?
A: If you are serious about buying this home, ignore the sellers’ assessment of the support issues and have the foundation and frame systems professionally assessed. Concerns about the structural integrity of a home should not be left to chance or spontaneous opinion.
The post and beam problems should be investigated by a licensed structural engineer. The property should also be fully appraised by the most thorough and experienced home inspector you can find. Other issues are certain to be exposed and the sellers’ disclosure statement is likely to be incomplete as material structural issues are minimized.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit him online at www.housedetective.com or write to AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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