Q: I closed on a home in 2008. The owner is financing the property for us.
The property was on the market for 9 months and didn’t sell. We asked specifically about the condition of the property, as the owner listed it herself. The owner stated that the house was newly-remodeled and triple-insulated. We told her we’d like to have it inspected, she stated it would be a waste of money seeing as she just had remodeled it in order to sell it.
We took her advice and did not have an inspection. Shortly after moving in, my wife started having terrible migraine headaches. We thought it was pollen or stress, but after doing some investigation we came to find out there were pipes leaking in the wall and the drain from the bathtub drains directly on the ground under the house. In addition, it turns out there is no insulation in the roof, the windows were installed upside down and not sealed properly, and the septic system in faulty.
Within weeks of moving in, we told the seller about the septic issue, insulation, windows, plus we informed her that the air conditioning didn’t work. We didn’t find out about the mold until mid-March.
She refuses to fix any of the damage of the house and won’t give us an adjustment for the damage caused to my wife’s health because of the mold. She says she sold her home in “as is” condition.
We want out and we want the $40,000 we have already given her. I have a lot of pictures documenting the damage in the house. She is threatening to foreclose on me.
Will a judge rule against me if I go to court and sue her? She did not provide a seller disclosure form, which is required in my state and I only signed a warranty deed and promise to pay. I feel as though the condition of the home was misrepresented at best. What do you think?
A: You should run to see an attorney that specializes in real estate litigation. If the information you have provided is accurate, you might be able to rescind the sales contract due to your seller’s misrepresentation and possible fraud.
While your seller might have sold the home to you “as-is,” your seller still had a duty to answer your questions truthfully when asked. Furthermore, if your state requires a seller to deliver a disclosure form to you, you might have an action against your seller even if the home was sold “as is.” Given the amount of the renovations made to the home, you might even be able to sue the seller as the person responsible for the poor construction of the home.
Based on your description, there are many avenues an attorney could take in thinking about your case and making a determination as to whether you try to void the sale and get your money back, find another home and start over, or sue the seller for damages and stay in the home.
That’s why you should talk to an attorney and walk through these issues together. You may have to sue the seller, but you may have a better chance of protecting the money you have invested by being proactive rather than waiting for the seller to come after you.
You already made the mistake of seeking her advice and taking it when it came to doing an inspection. Now, you should not let her bully you into believing that you have no choices. You should at least talk to an attorney and see what protections the laws of your state may afford you. You might be pleasantly surprised.
And for the future, never take the seller’s advice when he or she tells you not to hire an inspector. If you were buying a car and the seller told you the engine was in great shape, would you take his word or talk to your mechanic?
Good luck and tell us how things progress.