Q: We saw a townhouse that we thought we really liked and gave the real estate agent $2,000 as earnest money. Before hiring an inspector we signed an amendment to remove the inspection contingency rider to the contract.
After we signed the amendment, we asked our friend to give us his opinion on the house. He suggested we hire an engineer. The engineer came and found that the brick veneer on the front and rear of the building had cracked. He also said that a huge tree is located too close to the house, and may have damaged the foundation.
We told the agent we don’t want to buy the house and he suggested that we write a letter to the owner. But he told us we might not get our money back.
Can you help us in this situation? What rights do we have?
A: I’m guessing that you did not use a real estate agent to assist you with the purchase of this house. Because you went on your own, you may have made several costly errors.
First, if you had a properly written inspection contingency clause, then you would have had to had the home inspected within a certain time frame. If the inspection happened within the time frame and you received an unsatisfactory inspection report, you would have been able to cancel the deal and receive your money back.
However, if the time for the inspection contingency had expired, or if you took it off of your contract, you would lose your right to cancel the deal and the seller could compel you to move forward. Or, the seller might allow you to cancel the deal but keep your good faith deposit.
If you signed away your right to have the home inspected, then you lose the ability to walk away from the contract because of a poor inspection report. Clearly, you were either not informed about what rights and responsibilities your contract carried, or you did not understand what you were told.
For more details on whether or not you can get your money back, consult with a real estate attorney. And next time, please use a real estate agent and/or a real estate attorney to assist you with your purchase.