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Can I rescind my offer on a house because the drinking water is contaminated?

My purchase agreement says, "All earnest money shall be returned upon termination."


The agreement states that the buyer has the right to inspect the plumbing system and environmental issues during the initial inspection (before the formal inspection takes place). Certainly water quality is part of the plumbing system and also an environmental issue. And I inspected the plumbing system and determined the water was unsafe to drink because it tasted awful, smelled awful and caused me to experience abdominal pains when I drank it.


In my opinion, that gives me the right to terminate the agreement right now, but my real estate agent said water quality isn't covered by the house inspection, and therefore I'll have to forfeit my earnest money if I back out of the deal.
 
What do you think?
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November 23 2013 - Arden
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Why don't you start first with, "the water's bad, I'm outta here, may I have my earnest money back please?" They may just hand it over to you!
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November 24 2013
You can bail for any reason - and really the less reasons the better for any future litigation. I would not go the 'water testing' route. Make sure your agent communicates CLEARLY and in a TIMELY fashion. 

You want to buy a house you love. The seller wants to find a buyer who loves the house, and who wont sue them for water issues after they move in. 
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November 24 2013
Profile picture for palomine55

Thanks to everybody for your helpful tips. Now I have some more questions.

Would it be necessary to have the results of a water-quality test in order to get my earnest money refunded?

From my point of view, a water test wouldn't prove it was safe to drink, even if the results showed it was safe on the day of the test. The water I drank is not the same water that would be tested. The water I drank was contaminated, and no amount of water tests could convince me otherwise. I would never feel safe in that house, regardless of the results.

I don't see how I could reasonably be expected to move into a house where it wouldn't be safe to drink the water. What I'm wondering is, is my own testimony enough to warrant cancellation of the purchase agreement and the return of my earnest money, or would I have to supply some official documentation from the health department?

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November 24 2013
Profile picture for palomine55

Thanks to everybody for your helpful tips. Now I have another question.

Would it be necessary to have the results of a water-quality test in order to get my earnest money refunded?

From my point of view, a water test wouldn't prove it was safe to drink, even if the results showed it was safe on the day of the test. The water I drank is not the same water that would be tested. The water I drank was contaminated, and no amount of water tests could convince me otherwise. I would never feel safe in that house, regardless of the results.

I don't see how I could reasonably be expected to move into a house where it wouldn't be safe to drink the water. What I'm wondering is, is my own testimony enough to warrant cancellation of the purchase agreement and the return of my earnest money, or would I have to supply some official documentation? 

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November 24 2013
Water - its way overrated......
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November 24 2013
Get a real estate attorney to look at the offer agreement.  The home inspection is an addendum put in to protect the interests of the buyer.  He/she should be able to advise you on any recourse you may have in this proposed agreement. 
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November 24 2013
Typically, you can cancel your contract to purchase for whatever reason as long as your report back to the seller with the specified time frame of home inspection.  Every Board of Realtors has a different contract, so I would suggest read your entire contract, discuss with your agent, perhaps even discuss with your agent's manager if you are uncertain of your agent's response.  If still unsatisfied with the answer, consult an attorney.  
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November 24 2013
It really depends on your contract. Did you have an inspection period or a due diligence period? Also, did you see a copy of the property disclosures and did the previous owner disclose it? If it is a foreclosure it is as is, but you should still have a due diligence period to do your inspections and if your agent was protecting you as they should of been, then yes you can retract your offer. If it was just an offer and your not under contract, your agent more than likely has not released your earnest money to the other agent yet and therefore they can return it to you.

Good luck.
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November 24 2013
If your "offer" is not yet accepted simply write "OFFER RESCINDED" with the date and time in black Sharpie across the PA and send it to the agent, fax it the their brokerage (for time stamp), and you can even fax it to your brokerage for a timestamp.

 
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November 24 2013
Go over your purchase agreement with your Realtor, if the answer is not in the purchase agreement, hire an attorney.  
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November 24 2013
There is one inspection contingency period not an initial and then a formal. Hopefully you are using a Realtors contract and not a FSBO.

 If you are going to terminate the agreement because of water quality you will need a certified lab test showing the water is contaminated and not fit to drink. 
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November 24 2013
A few words are missing and it won't let me edit that. It should say. If you otherwise like it, then require them to do that.
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November 24 2013
First of all. Water can be treated so if you otherwise them require that. As for backing out, it's typically a covered issue. Heck, the way contacts read these days you can back out because of the paint color or you don't like the type of grass or the wind blows. The key is that you do so during the cancelation period with proper forms. Simply saying the condition of the home is unacceptable is often enough. Review your contract with your agent AND their broker (or an attorney) since it sounds like your agent might not understand the process. But cost to treat water is probably less than. $20. So check out the options first
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November 24 2013
A lab test for water quality is recommended.  If your contingency for inspection period has not yet been removed in writing, you should be within the right to cancel with refund of your initial deposit.
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November 24 2013
Yes. You can always rescind your offer. If you havnt gone to contract yet, then you are fine.
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November 23 2013
Well, I'm looking ahead. You're not going to buy this property, are you? So the next question is - will the seller release the earnest money. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. If they don't . . .
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November 23 2013
I suggest that you get a sample and have it tested. In my area, the cost is $20. Within a day or 2, you will have the results of exactly what is in the water. Your agent should know that bad water is absolutely a reason to terminate the contract. Go to the broker if your agent won't help you.
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November 23 2013
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Well, I was hoping I wouldn't have to resort to legal action. I just wanted to know if anyone out there has experience with the water quality issue and how it was resolved in a situation such as mine.
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November 23 2013
It doesn't really matter what we think, pal 'o mine, you're not buying the property, and if they don't give you back your earnest money, you're going to get an attorney. Amiright, or amiright?

All the best,
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November 23 2013
I think your Agent is drinking something.
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November 23 2013
 
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Can I rescind my offer on a house because the drinking water is contaminated?
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