Profile picture for user6570111

Non-disclosure

I was buying a property directly from the Seller.  Been asking him about his additional bathroom remodeling before went to sign the S&P.  He said he had permit on that. When I asked him for Seller's disclosure while signing S&P, he told me there's nothing to disclose. Fortunately I found out the non-permit issue before the closing. He took the permit to add a bedroom with closet.  Later, he converted the closet to bathroom without permit.  

I am asking him to reimburse me all the cost I have paid in obtaining loans, inspection etc...but he denies it.  Had he disclosed the issue upfront, I would have walked without getting all the process done.

He was trying to scam me into buying something I will have problem in the future. What would you do if you are in my situation?  Thanks.
  • April 29 2014 - US
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Answers (9)

Best Answer

Profile picture for themorrigan20
Apparently you knew enough to ask about the permit process.  I doubt any realtor would have done more than that, and maybe not as much.  I just got through talking to one who did not know (or did not say) that easements don't have to be written, much less recorded, in order to be legal and enforceable.   And I don't do RE for a living.  So take the other comments for what they're worth.

Figure out what your damages (losses) are.  Include maybe $20/hr for any time you wasted at home inspections, etc., that you wouldn't have done if you knew about this defect.

Be sure to keep copies of emails, documents, and if you haven't already, write notes about what happened when while it's still fresh in your mind.

Depending on the dollar amount, you may want to take him to small claims (magistrate) court.  There too, you do not need representation.  It costs about $75-100 to file the request, which you get back if you win.

If your damages are too high for small claims, pay for an hour of a contract attorney's time.  It seems if this guy said there was nothing to disclose KNOWING the bath wasn't permitted, you should have a case.  But I'm just a layman on a chat board, not a legal advisor.
  • April 29 2014
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Putting the agent-digs aside, perhaps the reason that the seller went FSBO was because he couldn't find an agent that didn't ask him about permits . . .
  • April 30 2014
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Profile picture for themorrigan20
Kari, you proved my point.  Did you see where OP asked for a disclosure and was told there was nothing to disclose?

What, exactly, would a realtor "of" done at that point for the buyer?

We all have to do our own homework.  The OP knew about permits.  I knew about easements.  The days of some grinning salesperson collecting 6% for unlocking a door and presenting a few carefully culled "comparables" are ending.  Too bad you didn't police your own better.
  • April 30 2014
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Profile picture for user6570111
Appreciate your support "sunnyview"!  You words lifted up my spirits when I needed most! 

Signed the contract on 03/30, they only coughed out the truth on 28th day (after my "awesome story" to luring them into confession) but now they are twisting the story claiming they were the ones voluntarily to disclose the issue... and refused to bear my financial loss.  How can these people can sleep at night?

Yes, I am born with 6th sense ability and investigation skills.  People, don't mess with me!  I am tired being a victim.  

I wish I had been to Law School..so useful in everyday's life.
  • April 30 2014
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"Hmm.can I sue Title company? What is their role if they can't find out the fact? "

No. The title company doesn't have the role of checking permits. This is squarely on the owner/seller. If they did not disclose tie them up as tight as you can and sue. Small claims may be a good option depending on the amount you are out. It is fast, inexpensive and easy to win if you have hard evidence like inspection reports, seller disclosures, emails and/or the print out from the office that says there is no permit.

Sellers like this count on buyers not digging too deep. Many get by without getting sued. It's wrong, but they play the odds. On this buyer, it sounds like your homework paid off and I am happy that you did not get stuck with unpermitted issues to fix. Now you just have to write a formal demand letter asking for your costs and make it clear that if they do not pay within the specified timeline that they will pay more if you go to court.

PS Thank goodness you listened to your gut (6th sense). I just wish more people were like you!
  • April 30 2014
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Profile picture for user6570111
Thanks all your comments and suggestions.  As much as I agree to have a realtor, but if the seller has all intention to conceal the fact, the realtor can't do anything.  None of any parties incl. Title, Inspector, appraisal discovered the issue.  It was my 6th sense that made me created a story to convince the seller to tell me exactly what they did to the basement for my loan to be released and I-don't-intend- to- sell- the house-ever story for them to spill the beans.  So they were caught off-guarded and wrote a brief letter indicating the non-permit and signed it off.

themorrigan20, I like your comment.  This is exactly what I am planning to do, contacting the attorney or take things on my own to report them to the county permit department on their violations.  Whether I get my expenses back is not a major issue,  just I want the justice back. This couple was trying to scam me into their problematic property and I would be in big trouble hadn't I found out.

However, they are twisting their story now..not only they refuse to reimburse those unnecessary cost I had incurred but they are denying the non-disclosure.  (Yeah, right, none in the S&P and none in conversation ever...) I wonder how they can proof that except yeah..the above letter I made them confessed and signed when the loan was about to close in 1 week.

Hmm.can I sue Title company? What is their role if they can't find out the fact?  I managed to find the permit online.  It says (turn unfurnished underfloor area to bedroom without plumbing).  The original layout was only 1 bathroom and now, it has 2 bathrooms...looks like all buyers should do their own homework !!
  • April 30 2014
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I agree with Lowell and Bernard and I am so sorry for your situation.
In the event you had a Realtor, you would of had the seller's disclosures and been able to make an informed decision to either move forward on the property or walk away from the property with out loosing any of your deposit  money. I wish you the best, Kari.
  • April 29 2014
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Profile picture for USMortgageRanger
This goes to show all other that you do not buy a home unless you know the history of the home and the aid of a trusted Agent. They would have to disclose upfront any and all modifications to the home. After all it would not have cost you anything and shorten your headache had you utilized an Agent.
  • April 29 2014
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Agents are not qualified to give legal advice. I would certainly learn one thing from this experience. Never buy a home without representation by a licensed Realtor.
  • April 29 2014
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