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what could happen if the seller refuses to do repairs when house is in escrow? Can he take legal act

Can the Buyer take legal action? or what can the buyer do to force the seller to do repairs?
  • May 01 2013 - Orange
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Answers (14)

In California, the seller is not required to do any repairs. The buyer can ask you to do repairs, but he can't force you. You simply say no. If the buyer is not happy with this, then he may come back and ask for a price reduction or he can cancel the agreement. If you're afraid that the buyer will walk, then you may want to consider some type of compromise. But if you're in a seller's market, and you have plenty of interest in your property, then you can let the buyer walk and you can accept a new offer. It may even be a good idea to accept Backup Offers. The buyer may be less likely to request repairs, if he knows that you have someone waiting in the wings for the property. 

 The only items that you may be required to take care of in California (check your contract) is strapping the hot water heater, installing smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector and any other minimum mandatory items required by the city or state. But it will be explicitly spelled out in the Residential Purchase Contract.

Good Luck!
  • May 22 2013
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The contract is the prevailing document to dictate the negotiated items.  In many states you cannot compel a seller to make any repairs.  In Colorado it is negotiated between the parties after inspections. 
  • May 22 2013
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It depends on if the seller had previous agreed in the contract to do repairs.
  • May 22 2013
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That depends on your state, so find out the laws from your agent. But here in the state of CA, the offer to purchase reads that the buyers knows and understands they are buying "AS IS", which means the seller doesn't have to do anything. With that said, I always advise my seller's to agree to make all safety issue repairs. Most will, some don't. The only excepts are things like water heater bracing, smoke and carbon detectors, those are mandated by the state that the seller have this in place and properly opporating.
  • May 19 2013
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One other quick comment. The California Association of Realtors Purchase Agreement (REV 4/10) is an AS-IS Contract. This contract is typically the one used by buyers when being represented by a Licensed Realtor in CA. Note the language in paragraph 9. You as the seller do not have to include as-is language. It is built into the purchase agreement. You still must disclose all material facts and defects about the home. Of course, as pointed out already, a buyer can request repairs. From there the negotiations begin.

Good luck with the sale.
  • May 01 2013
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Thank you all for answers, that cleared up a lot of things and I am more confident in the sale of the home.Thanks again.
  • May 01 2013
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Hi - homes are usually purchased "as is" and this used to be called "buyer beware".  The real estate industry has changed to protect buyers more and there is still no onus on sellers to do anything but what is in the contract.  The contract is not edited simply by doing an inspection and finding issues that a buyer wants taken care of.  Some states have mandatory "fixes" such as CA, where strapped water heaters and functioning smoke detectors are mandated, but nothing else is "required" unless it is in the contract.  NO legal action can be taken to have the seller perform anything other than what the contract states....everything else he/she does is really out of the desire to get the transaction to close and out of their own ethics and morals.  Hope this helps.  Cheers!
  • May 01 2013
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First, go by the contract. Second, see if any of the repairs are required by your state, municipality or federal guidelines. Third, what, if any, repairs are you willing to make to complete the transaction.

I just had one where they buyer had a grocery list of things they wanted the seller to do. The seller agreed to the safety issue items but not the other requests. Buyer walked. Yet, we did get another buyer at a much higher price that loved the home the way it was (with the safety items completed).
  • May 01 2013
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If the needed repairs were not in the purchase agreement, you wouldn't be in breach of contract if you did no repairs (excepting as noted if appliances and mechanicals that worked on day of contract acceptance no longer were operable)

Everything has to be in the contract that was signed by both parties.
  • May 01 2013
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If the seller has already agreed to do repairs then yes a buyer can take legal action. However, when a buyer submits their request for repairs, it is a ppoint of negtiation. Most buyers and sellers come to some agreement in the middle. Some sellers simply refuse to do any repairs. At that  point, the bbuyer has the option of accepting that term or cancelling the escrow.   

  • May 01 2013
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If you, the seller, agreed to make repairs - then you have to. Nobody can force you, but the buyer can back out of the transaction, get their earnest money back, and perhaps sue you for damages.

If you, as the seller, did not agree to make repairs, then, you don't have to. EXCEPT. If something broke between the time of agreement and the time of closing, then you are obligated to repair it.

Let's say that when the buyer inspected the house, the deck was fine. Then a tree fell and knocked the stairs off the deck. You would be obligated to repair that deck, or the buyer could back out of the transaction and perhaps sue you for damages.

Hope this helps,
-- mack
  • May 01 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
If the buyer puts in repair requests, you (the seller) can agree or disagree to some or all of the repair requests.   This is a normal part of the selling process.  If you reject all repair requests, don't be surprised to see some further negotiation on price.
  • May 01 2013
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Sorry i wasn't clear. I am seller and I would prefer not to do any repairs.
I am new at selling home, this is the first I have bought and am now selling it for investment purposes. I am selling to someone that knows what he is doing and wanted to know if he wanted to can he take legal action is I refuse to do repairs on home. I did not put on the listing as is or on contract.
Can he force me to do repairs by legal actions or any other matter?

  • May 01 2013
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Was repaires in your contract.? Do you have your own Realtor to represent you?
Please not if Home is bought AS-IS with right to inspect, with No agreement on repaires you can either walk away if it is really bad or try to negotiate with seller. If Seller has No funds to do any work. 
It will be up to you to move forward or walk away.  
Everything falls on What does the contract state.
 
  • May 01 2013
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