Q: I bought my house May 2009. My mortgage company told me that I had a one year warranty since it was a newly-built home.
I just got off the phone with the Veteran’s Administration (VA) because I am trying to get the builder to repair some items that have already gone bad, including zone valves for my heating system and other items.
After some research, the VA determined that I do not have a valid warranty because the seller and the builder are not the same. Do I have any recourse against the seller or the mortgage company since the house was sold to me as a new house?
I also have the VA warranty paper which was signed by the seller.
A: I’m unclear why you are relying on either your mortgage company or the VA to give you an opinion as to whether you have a home warranty or not. The first thing you should do it pull out your purchase contract and see who sold you the property and what promises and warranties were given as part of that contract. If you received a separate warranty document for the home, you should review that as well.
A real estate attorney can help you parse through the legalese and understand what promises and warranties were given to you and in what form.
You should know that some developments are set up in a way in which the legal owner of the real estate that is sold to you is different from the company that developed or built the property.
In a situation in which you receive title to the real estate from one company but documents relating to the development from another company, it may be that the builder’s warranty you might have received came from the builder/developer and not from the entity that actually owned the real estate.
Whether you get a warranty from the entity that owned the real estate or the entity that developed the real estate, your situation could be the same: Neither entity might honor their obligations under a warranty.
These days many small builders have gone out of business so even if you received a warranty from the builder, if the builder is not still in business, your warranty is basically worthless.
It’s unfortunate that your builder doesn’t want to help you out. I’m hoping that some of the items in your home might be covered under a secondary warranty provided by the manufacturers.
So if the zone valves for your heating system have gone bad, you may be able to contact the manufacturer to get a replacement. They may provide you with the part, and you might have to pay for the labor.
You may have some other options as far as the builder or seller is concerned. You can always sue him in small claims court for failure to live up to the contract. You might also sit down with a real estate attorney who can review your documents and help you figure out what other options (legal and otherwise) might get you the results you’re looking for.
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