Legal issues with buyer and house we sold her.... - Posted by JR

Posted by Brent_IL on April 18, 2002 at 22:54:51:

I’d give her the name and day telephone number of a vice-president at her bank and tell her the new landlord is in charge of repairs.

And where’s her RE agent’s head at for relaying the messages?

Legal issues with buyer and house we sold her… - Posted by JR

Posted by JR on April 18, 2002 at 13:50:43:

I posted this over on the legal forum, but just wanted to see if anyone here had any advice…

We sold a house to a lady several (6-7) months ago and she has been complaining to us, either directly or through the real estate agent she used, about various problems she is having since closing. The roof leaks, the paneling is “coming off the wall”, the shower “runs behind the wall” etc, etc.

Now, we rehabbed this older home and then sold it to her, and I wouldn’t be suprised if there were some little problems here and there, but we were wondering what exactly our responsibility is to her.

Also, she owes us $800,(we loaned it to her because we were trying to get closed and she was short $800 due to a mortgage broker’s error) set up in a note that she was to pay us $200 a month (it should have been paid off by now)- and we’ve told her from the start "get the plumbing issues checked and when they figure out what is wrong, tell the plumber to contact us and we will fix it if it is something we are responsible for- such as roots in the lines or whatever. We also told her that the cost could be deducted from the $800 she owes us. Well, we met roto-rooter out there and nothing was wrong.

Now I just don’t know how to handle this situation, because we’ve never had a problem with our other rehabs. Nobody’s ever owed us money after a closing before, either. I feel like she probably is having some problems over there, but she is also holding the money she owes us over our heads. I could hear her daughter in the background on the phone saying “tell them they’ll get their money when they fix the house!”. They refer to their mortgage payment as “rent”. I do NOT want to get into a legal wrangle with this woman, and will fix what we are legally bound to fix, but I don’t know what that is, and I want to make sure we get our money first. Shouldn’t the person who inspected the house for leaks etc be somehow liable for not catching this stuff?

The entire list of things to be fixed before we could close was fixed- I even found it and showed her and compared it to the list of complaints she has, and none of hers are even listed there.

I guess we just need to know what our rights are here and what we are responsible for. My lawyer here is out of pocket, and I need advice asap! Thanks a lot in advance.


Re: Legal issues … - Posted by Anne_ND

Posted by Anne_ND on April 19, 2002 at 10:04:31:


Two things:

-In my city, all sales are ‘as-is’ whether the contract says so or not. Do you know what your local laws say about this?

-Home warrenties are pretty worthless except for the warm fuzzy feelings they generate in the buyer. And the fact that they let the seller off the hook (in the buyer’s mind).

I say this because they often cost about $300-400. There is a deductable, and you must use the contractor for repairs that has been chosen by the warrenty company. In many cases this contractor is NOT the most reasonably priced, or the most competent person to be performing the repairs. Also, there are a whole lot of exceptions to what is covered.

I would never use a home warranty as a buyer. I know too many people who have been burned by them (i.e., it cost them more to get the home fixed than it would if they hadn’t bought the warranty).

good luck,


Thank you… - Posted by JR-LA

Posted by JR-LA on April 19, 2002 at 08:24:05:

Thanks everyone- I’ve gotten a lot of good, solid input on this- that’s what I love about this board, I can not post for a year, then come back and get a big response when it’s much needed!

I will try and post what the outcome is- good for everyone hopefully. :slight_smile:

thanks again-

Re: Legal issues … - Posted by Clare Z

Posted by Clare Z on April 19, 2002 at 24:06:36:

Live and learn. I think you owe her nothIng. I agre that she probably is not used to the responsibilty of owning a home.

Besides a judgement, you could also place the debt with a collection agency, I think. Might depend on how it was recorded. Not sure what collection agencies require, but with either a judgement or a collection her points go DOWN on her credit report - and you have THAT to hang over HER head.

I would suggest a stern letter from a lawyer explaining your position. At best you will get the money and she will leave you alone. At worst you lose the money and you cut ties with her anyway.

Next time she calls, simply say that the hiuse is NOT yours anymore, roto-rooter could find no problems and it is up to her to handle HER house now.

Good luck and let us know what happens.


Re: Legal issues … house we sold her… - Posted by Tim Fierro (Tacoma, WA)

Posted by Tim Fierro (Tacoma, WA) on April 18, 2002 at 23:55:37:

You already have a completed deal. Next time she calls, tell her that you no longer own the house and that she needs to resolve her home needs on her own.

I wouldn’t just kiss the $800 away unless it was just a personal loan with no promissory note. If your note is recorded, and you don’t want to foreclose on it, just let it ride and someday; someone will pay you. Did you add any interest and late fees that can accrue on the note?

Re: Problems with house. - Posted by JoeS

Posted by JoeS on April 18, 2002 at 22:26:34:

Tough call! What is the reason for her troubles? Someone touched on it above…this new homeowner probably has spent several years RENTING and crying to a landlord for everything and anything. They have brought that mentality into homeownership. You can do a couple of things. First you can as one reply "kiss my *ss and forget about your $800! Or second you could rty to see what the real problem is. If they pay you, then you could fix it! Third you could do nothing to fix, but see them in small claims court!

In NY recently ALL sellers with a few exceptions have a new disclosure form to fill out and sign. The buyer also signs it agreeing to it. If there are problems later, it is not the concern of the old seller! I personally like the new disclosure. My 2 cents.

Re: issues - Posted by Brent_IL

Posted by Brent_IL on April 18, 2002 at 17:41:01:

I’m unclear about who is receiving the mortgage note payment. Did you offer seller-financing and does she owe you more than the $800?

Legal issues with buyer and house we sold her… - Posted by JohnBoy

Posted by JohnBoy on April 18, 2002 at 17:22:26:

Have you gone over there to see for yourself what all these problems are?

They may be minor things or she may just be jerking your chain to use this as an excuse not to pay the money shes owe. Maybe she doesn’t have the money as to why she is pulling this or she may just be trying to get out of paying.

Since she owes me money I would go over and at least check out everything she’s whinning about. If there is anything wrong and it’s simple enough to fix, then I would ask her when she could pay the rest of the money she owed me. I’ll come back on a day that is good for her when she can have the money there and then I’ll fix everything at that time. When I’m finish she can pay me off! I would verify she has the CASH on her before doing anything.

If it turns out to be anything more involved that you feel isn’t your problem then tell her to just keep the money she owes and call it even!

Re: Legal issues with buyer… - Posted by Carmen_FL

Posted by Carmen_FL on April 18, 2002 at 17:11:33:

Unless you knowingly lied to the buyer, or failed to disclose material issues known to you, it seems to me that the buyer is just looking to you to solve HER problems. Don’t play her game. You’re getting too personally involved.

  1. If she was interested in the state of the property, she should have had an inspection done. If she did, and she asked you to fix some things because of it, and you did, that’s it. You’ve fulfilled your obligations.

  2. If she did not have an inspection done, you should have had an “as-is” addendum (remember this for next time!) Then you’re no longer responsible unless you hide known material defects. Nevertheless, there is a clause in all my contracts which states that the seller is responsible for repairs up to a maximum of 2% of sales price (if it’s not as-is). The repairs need to be noted PRIOR to closing - that’s where the inspection comes in. If the repairs exceed that amount, either party can opt to pay for the rest or walk. If no defects are brought to our attention, then we do not need to fix them. We also have them sign something at closing stating that we make no warranties or guarantees on anything ourselves (e.g. if the roof was fixed, the Roofer has a warranty, WE don’t) and that they had the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the house and have accepted it in its present condition.

  3. This lady is obviously not used to being a homeowner. You must “wean” her from you, ASAP. Do not try to fix her problems - they are not your problems. You are NOT her landlord - although she may look on you as such.

  4. I hope you got some kind of 2nd Mortgage, Promissory Note, or other legally binding document for the $800. If you did, then you can tell her that, despite what is allegedly wrong with the house, she needs to be paying on it. If she does not, you can institute legal actions against her, which could create a judgment. If you did decide to pursue this, it would most likely be in small claims court.

If you really don’t want to deal with it any more, I suggest you write her - and more than likely your $800 - off and go on with your life. Life’s just too short.

Alternatively, at least get her to play the game YOUR way. Get everything in writing; try to get her to agree (in writing) to items to be repaired, in exchange for her signing a release, and maybe re-affirming the $800 note (or signing one, if you didn’t originally have one!)

Re: Legal issues with - Posted by sean

Posted by sean on April 18, 2002 at 16:16:40:

If it’s not worth the legal hassle, than it’s not worth the 800 bucks either. I tell her (and her daughter) to keep the 800 and kiss my a$$. Thus severing your ties with this place.
Move on,

Just My 2 cents

Re: Legal issues with buyer … - Posted by Sean

Posted by Sean on April 18, 2002 at 16:07:27:

That’s why you should always include a Home Warranty with the purchase. They would be calling them and not you. It’s well worth the $300.

Re: Legal issues with buyer - Posted by KC Questions

Posted by KC Questions on April 18, 2002 at 16:06:31:

I have heard of a few people that pay for home warranties for each home they sell. I am told that they cost $300-500 initially and that there is a copay of $30-50 for a service trip. Maybe someone with experience with these can tell you more about them, but I was thinking that they might work from your situation if you were to volunteer to buy one.

Not the same JR as below- I’ll be JR-LA. nt - Posted by JR-LA

Posted by JR-LA on April 18, 2002 at 15:35:08:

Not the same JR as below- I’ll be JR-LA. nt

Re: issues - Posted by JR-LA

Posted by JR-LA on April 18, 2002 at 19:32:12:

No- she just owes us $800- I just keep hearing her refer to her mortgage payment as the “rent” though and it worries me that she probably considers us to be “landlords”, if you know what i mean…

Re: Legal issues with - Posted by JR-LA

Posted by JR-LA on April 18, 2002 at 19:34:44:

I LIKE your 2 cents…

Re: Legal issues with buyer … - Posted by JR-LA

Posted by JR-LA on April 18, 2002 at 16:53:52:

Thats what I don’t get here- this “home warranty” we paid $400 for is somehow not paying for anything. We usually get them so we don’t have to fool with this kind of stuff, but it seems like she said it only covers certain things. I don’t know. I don’t even know who to call about that- this is just annoying because this is her business, not mine.