Q: I recently made an offer on a pre-foreclosure home in New Jersey. The process has taken an extremely long time. Now that it’s time to close on the deal, I find myself unable to purchase the home because after having two offers and two failed attempts at selling my own home, I am now unable to afford both mortgages at the same. Because I can’t sell my home, the mortgage company has declined to lend me money.
Because we thought we were going to get the house and time was running out on our contract’s inspection contingencies, we went ahead and paid for a home inspection and well water inspection.
Soon after receiving these reports, we learned we would be unable to get a mortgage. I informed my lawyer and asked him if we could try and recoup some of the money we paid by offering the inspection reports to other potential buyer.
A day after sending my lawyer this email, he gave both of the inspection reports to the sellers lawyer.
Can my attorney give this information to the sellers without my permission, especially under the circumstances? And, can the seller’s lawyer then just go ahead and give this information to the next potential buyer?
If so, how do I go about getting reimbursed for this information that I paid for?
A: Let’s review the situation: You made an offer for a house, and now you can’t go through with the purchase because your house hasn’t sold. But because you thought it was going to happen, you paid to have several different inspections performed. That’s what you were supposed to do.
But why would you think that someone else would reimburse you for these expenditures? You paid for these as part of the process of buying this house. It’s part of the due diligence that buyers should go through. Any smart buyer would likely discard your inspections and pay to perform new ones to be sure the information was solid.
Your attorney may have had an obligation to deliver these inspection reports to the sellers under the terms of your contract. Have you asked your attorney why he delivered the reports to the sellers? Perhaps by delivering the home inspection report and well water inspection report, he believed that you would have a better shot at getting back your earnest money, the cash you put down as a deposit to buy the house.
As for the sellers, if they now know that something is wrong with their property, they’ll have to fix it or disclose it on their seller disclosure form. It’s unlikely that these reports you paid for would be passed along to anyone.
But to go back to your original question, unless your contract provides for your seller to reimburse you for your home buying expenses, you may be out of luck. In some states under certain limited circumstances, if a seller delivers a seller disclosure report to a buyer with statements that are not truthful and the buyer then terminates the contract, the buyer may be entitled to recover from the seller the costs the buyer incurred associated with the home purchase.
You may want to talk further with your attorney, but it’s likely that you’re going to have to accept the cost of these inspections as the cost of buying a home and terminating the deal.
Good luck with the sale of your house.