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What to do if a seller refuses to make repairs?

I am buying a house and after a home inspection learned that the house needs a new roof since the current roof is leaking into the attic.  The seller refuses to make the necessary repairs and does not want to give credit.  The house was not advertised "as-is".  When negotiating the price it was done assuming the house is in move in condition.  Is the seller obligated to make the necessary repairs since the house was not advertised "as-is"?  If they don't want to make repairs or grant credit for the repair what can I do?   Can I sue them?
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November 09 2009 - Edison
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Answers (28)

For user7912081:

No, you are not under contract if you signed all the proper objections and rejections within the allotted time period.  Because it was contracted that you could back out of the purchase pending the inspections (ONLY if you did so within the allotted time frames), you are owed your earnest money.

Your earnest money cannot be released until both parties have agreed upon what should be done about it.  Until the seller signs, they have not agreed to give the earnest money back to you. Each contract should have a section within it that addresses the consequences should both parties disagree; sometimes mediation or arbitration are required.  Look through your contract for the section regarding earnest money.

Your contract to purchase the house is, in reality, an Earnest Money Agreement.  Earnest money is the seller's sole remedy against a breach of contract by the buyer.   If you are in breach of contract, you will lose your earnest money. If you back out as per your agreement, you are entitled to receive your earnest money back. It sounds like the latter.

It's time to submit a second, more stringent, request for your earnest money.  You said that you dealt with the listing agent; as the seller's agent, they are the person to speak with first, and the one to submit the request to.  Don't be shy.  If the agent is of no help, step up and ask their broker for clarification on the contract and to help you.

Should both of those fail, you can either go to court for your money or let it go.



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January 25 2013
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I am in a similar situation right now in the state of Wyoming. There was a contingency clause allowing me to back out if the inspection was unsatisfactory. The inspection revealed expensive repairs including complete roof replacement and electrical problems that could cause shock if not repaired. I signed an objection letter within the required time period asking them to pay for the repairs. The buyer countered saying they would only contribute a very small amount to the repairs (less than half). I signed a document not accepting the counter. The document also requires signature of the seller. It's been two weeks and the seller has still not countersigned that final document. In the meantime, the real estate agent is saying I can't get my earnest money back until the seller signs it. Does that mean they can tie up my earnest money forever? The realtor is once again aggressively advertising the house and plans on having an open house next week. I notice they are advertising the house as "well-maintained" and are not making any disclosures.  Do I have any recourse if seller refuses to sign? Are we technically still under contract? If we are, how can they advertise the house like that. I'm confused. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of dealing with the listing agent and therefore have no representation in the matter.
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January 25 2013
This is an old post indeed, and for sure the person asking had find the solution. But reading from the answers given, this could be a good reference to make to those who are in a similar situation.



Fhil F.
Social Media Manager
on behalf of Mike Austin
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March 21 2011
Profile picture for sunnyview
Seller is not obligated to make any repairs. If you do not like the information that your inspection turns up, most standard contracts allow you to back out without penalty within an alloted time period and get your earnest money back.

Also, just because a house is not advertised "as is" does not mean that it has no issues or is move in ready. If you don't like this house with it's issues, that's understandable and there are other houses to choose.
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February 07 2011
If for some reason the buyer does not pull thru please contact Ben's Dependable Roofing, Inc. we are located in the South Florida area and we will give you a great price, under the circumstances we understand how frustrating some people can be and we are always here to help our clients
Please Call us anytime [Contact info removed by moderator]
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February 07 2011
Unless your state has a law dealing with this (highly unlikely), the answer will be found within "the four corners" of your contract.  The Louisville KY, GLAR standard form of contract allows for various options.  The one most commonly used is to allow cancellation of the contract and return of good faith deposit to buyer if the inspection shows defects not cured by seller.
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February 06 2011
Most contracts that are not "AS IS" have a clause that the seller will make repairs based on the inspection up to a certain amount of dollars or a certain percentage.  Check your contract and see if the costs of repair exceed the stated amount or if the seller chose to put a zero in that clause.  Since the seller is not obligated unless it is included in the agreement then it is up to you as the buyer to decide whether or not the house is worth the price plus the expense of repairs. If the seller is not motivated to negotiate the findings then you have but one option and that would be to walk away.  Make sure you provide written notice within the deadline period after the inspection - otherwise you just bought a house that needs a new roof.
 
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February 06 2011
Selelr is not obligated (assuming you have an inspection contingency), nor are you obligated to buy it.  In most cases at this point seller and buyer negotiate and come to a meeting of the minds.  If that doesn't happen your deposit money should be fully refundable.
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February 06 2011
this post is really old.  thought maybe if I put this reply on here it will draw attention since it's getting recent answers...pretty sure the person has their answer by now.  Answering will give you contributions but also shows you didn't look at the date.  It's an easy mistake to make but you'll want to not make a habit of it.
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February 05 2011
I hope you used a good Realtor to assist you in your purchase.  Was this issue disclosed in the seller's property disclosure?  As part of your purchase agreement, you should have included an inspection contingency addendum.  This contingency addendum protects you from having to follow through on the purchase of a home in the event that issues such as you mention arise.  The seller is not obligated to do anything is this situation.  If the roof is leaking into the attic, the issue will likely be flagged by the FHA appraiser if you happen to be using that type of financing.  The issue will have to be resolved at that time.
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February 05 2011
Your roof issue is related to a home inspection clause. A part of and contingency of your contract.  In that wording (check your contrtact) there is usually a clause that indicates inspection issues, repairs and 'what if's". The contingency is usually balanced equally for buyers and sellers and, in my experience, indicates that if seller refuses to fix or buyer refuses to accept without repairs being done, either can cancel the contract.  Your up-front wording in a contract/offer can affect the outcome of inspection issues. Some attny review letters indicate a $$$ amount that the seller will spend for repairs, other clauses indicate the buyer can 'walk' if unsatisfactory repair issues.  It is a negotiatble issue unless fraud or mis-representation is made on either part.  If roof leaks (for sure) and house back on market, has to be revealed (full disclosure) to next and any other potential buyers. (ask your local agent for more info)
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February 05 2011
Hey Roberto, it's an easy mistake to make.  all it takes is one person to respond to an old question to cause it to show up in the news feed and then you respond before realizing...it's really old.
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January 26 2011
maria, do you really think this issue hasn't been resolved in 15 months???
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January 26 2011
Hi, VinnieBoomBatz, assuming you have inspection contingency clause, if you and the seller can't come to an agreement then you should be able to cancel the contract and get your escrow money back so you can move forward on another home.  I do recommend you hire an attorney to represent you.  (love your name by the way).
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January 26 2011
I always recommend getting a credit rather than having the Seller do repairs. How do you know that the repairs will be done to your standards?
Presumably you have an inspection contingency. If the Seller won't credit you for at least half of the roof replacement cost then don't remove that contingency.
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January 05 2011
@gershon - this is a really old post. Note the date in the lower left hand corner of the original post. It's from 2009. It looks better on you if you start a new discussion in which you address this topic.
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January 04 2011
You cant sue, the contract provides for you to do inspections and walk if you are not happy with the results of the inspections. If you are getting a great deal you may want to absorb the extra costs if not walk
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January 03 2011
Your contract would have inspection contingencies in it as where you have the right to walk away if the seller refuses to fix any problems. 

If you really want the house and they refuse to fix the problems.. there is not too much you can do.

John Sacktig
Broker / Manager
Orange Key Realty
[contact info removed by moderator]
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November 17 2010
1st question is what did your agent say???

as stated before, check yourr contract. you may have a repair clause that stated if you repairs are to exceed "x" than you can walk away. And if you were going FHA and there is a repair issue that is called for by the lender then it would have to be fixed before the mortgage is given anyway.  the seller is not obligated to make any repairs as they are all negotiating points (your agent should be guiding you thru this)

Speak to them about taking your down payment and walking since they are not willing to repair or credit And look else where.
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November 11 2009
Move on. There are plenty of properties for sale. Be thankful that a good home inspection company discovered these issues BEFORE they became your (as the new owner) problems
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November 11 2009

I think the previous answers are spot on regarding your options of accepting the roof 'as-is' or moving on with your deposit in hand.  The real question is to try and understand the owner' objection to finding some sort of compromise with the roof.  See if you can work out a solution and make sure to point out the fact that future potential buyers will have the same concern regarding the roof!  Your agent should be able to help determine if a comprimise can be worked out!  Good luck!

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November 09 2009
It will inevitably come down to - what does your contract say?  It depends on your contractual time line(s) and clauses/addenda.  So in addition to re-reading your contract, I would recommend that you consult with the Buyer's Agent that's representing you, and then perhaps an attorney.

Best of luck!
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November 09 2009
VinnieBoomBatz:

I see you're located in Edison.  Are you using an attorney for the sale, as is customary?  If so, talk to him about your options.  If not, I'd recommend talking to an attorney (if you don't have one we can recommend one).

Principally though, it depends what is in your contract.  Generally there is an inspection period?  Are you within it?  Then you are [probably] entitled to cancel the contract and receive your deposit back.  If you want to continue with the sale, you'll have to negotiate the price based on their refusal to make repairs - or take the roof as is.

Of course, everything I've said here is general.  You'll need to have an attorney review the contract and consider the law if you want a true answer.
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November 09 2009
Profile picture for frisky1
It is all negotiation and the sellers are not obligated to make any repairs. And you are not obligated to buy the house. Here in New Jersey if you didn't waive the home inspection contingency, once you've given the sellers your repair list, you can accept the sellers decision whatever it is or walk away with your deposit money or negotiate back and forth until you come to an agreement.

Also "as-is" on a contract or in a listing means nothing in New Jersey if there is an inspection contingency. You can still walk away if you are not satisfied with the inspection or you can both negotiate the repairs/give credits. 'As-is' is a scare tactic to keep the buyer in line.
 
Will assume that if you are in NJ you are working with a lawyer. Just make sure you get your letters to the sellers' attorney within the time frames on the contract. Otherwise you waive your inspection contingency rights. You may have to threaten to walk to get the repairs or credit done and possibly lose the house.
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November 09 2009
Strange that  a seller would take this attitude in a buyers market for no one else is going to buy the house if the roof is leaking unless the price reflects this as in the case of a foreclosure, As stated you are entitled to void the transaction and get any deposit moneys back
To correct a misaprehension: all property is sold "as is'. That is why the buyer pays for a home inspection and that is why the home seller completes a property disclosure report. No disclosure report may be a red flag
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November 09 2009

You can sue anyone anytime for anything.  This is the land of sue happy people.  It doesn't mean you will win.

You said it yourself, you "assumed" that the house was in move in condition.  Seller disclosures IMO are worthless and that is why you do your own home inspection and due dilligence investigating.  You can terminate the contract and ask for your earnest money back or proceed with the house purchase if you think you are getting a deal good enough where you can replace the roof yourself.

Naima

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November 09 2009
You can walk away or take the house as-is. Inspection requests are negotiable. You can also ask for an extension on your option period in order to have a roofing contractor go out and assess the roof. The more knowledge you have, the better decision you can make.
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November 09 2009
Profile picture for sunnyview
I don't think you can sue or make them do the repairs. In most contracts, you can walk away during the inspection period and get your deposit money back in full.
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November 09 2009
 
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