Occasionally I hear from buyers after they have closed on their home and moved in, that something isn’t working properly, and they want to know if the seller will pay to fix it. When I get these calls, I refer to the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement and the Buyer’s Inspection Report, to see if there were any comments about the issue prior to closing.
I hear different types of complaints, from the air-conditioner isn’t working (usually from winter sales when the AC can’t be tested), to water in the basement, and most recently that there was hail damage to a roof 2 weeks before closing that no one knew about as the home was vacant.
Once we determine the defect wasn’t disclosed, I contact the seller’s agent and ask for the seller to repair or replace the defect. In many cases the seller writes a check and we are done. If the seller declines the buyer may opt for Arbitration, Conciliation Court, Mediation, or District Court. Personally, in 30 years, I have never had a buyer sue a seller or request Arbitration or Mediation.
Some buyers elect to purchase a one-year home warranty or ask the seller to provide one. One of my clients recently got a new dishwasher and central air-conditioner a few months after closing. I hear from many clients, that they have used the home warranty for miscellaneous repairs.
Minnesota Statutes require that sellers disclose to prospective buyers all material facts that the sellers are aware of that could adversely and significantly affect an ordinary buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property. Buyers need to be aware that there may be problems that the seller is not aware of and therefore they are not disclosed.
There is a 12-page Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement form approved by the Minnesota Association of Realtors, that the sellers complete at the time of listing the property. If there are any changes that occur prior to closing the seller is obligated to update the disclosure.
In some cases, there is a Seller’s Disclosure Alternative form, where the seller does not answer the disclosure questions. This typically occurs in foreclosure properties, investment properties, or estates where there is a Power of Attorney or the seller has not lived in the home for some time.
The disclosure form is not a warranty, and buyers are encouraged to have an independent home inspector inspect the property. Most purchase agreements are contingent on a buyer’s inspection. During this contingency, the buyer has the option to ask the seller to make repairs, provide compensation in lieu of repairs, or cancel the purchase agreement because of the condition.
It is also recommended that buyers walk through the home again before closing to ensure it is in the same condition as when they purchased the property and that agreed upon repairs were made.
Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to email@example.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.