For most people, moving into a new home is an exciting time because it’s a chance to start fresh. Sure, you and your spouse may argue about whether to hang that ugly painting over the fireplace that your in-laws bought for you as a housewarming gift, but other than that, you will hopefully revel in a time of fresh paint, zero repairs, and little to maintain.
For some, moving into a new home can quickly turn into a nightmare. What happens if during the process of installing shelves, you discover that termites have eaten the studs in the wall? What if you wake up to a drippy ceiling during your first rainstorm? What if you find a crack in the foundation that was artfully hidden?
While no one wants to uncover any surprise problems, the good news is that you may have legal recourse to protect you from having to pay for repairs on the home. Read on to discover the steps to take if you encounter issues.
Do not dilly dally around after you discover a problem. The statute of limitations varies from state to state on the previous owner’s financial responsibilities to fix a problem, so make sure you seek assistance quickly if you want to receive compensation.
Review the Disclosure Report
Most states require that the previous owner fill out a disclosure form to report any known issues with the property. If the former owner accurately filled out the report, there’s little chance that you will get them to make any repairs after closing.
But if the disclosure report reads like you are purchasing a well-maintained, perfectly good home, and you find yourself living in a money pit, you may be able to receive compensation for the repairs.
Review the Inspection Report
Your home inspector could be legally liable if they didn’t notice an issue with the home. Review the inspector’s report to see if you overlooked a note of caution.
Determine if the Problem Was There Before Purchase
Figuring out whether the problem was there before you purchased the home may be tricky. You may need to hire a professional to help you make that determination. Without it, you have little legal recourse.
Determine if the Problem Was Covered Up By a Previous Owner
If during a remodel, you notice that a crumbling ceiling was covered up with a false ceiling, you could have grounds to sue. If the previous owner used paint to hide water issues, you might be able to have legal recourse to receive compensation for repairs. You can even use the information you learned from your new neighbors to determine whether the previous owners knew about the problems or not.
Again, you may need to seek help from a professional to help you prove your case.
Consider Working Outside the Court System
Before you reach out to your attorney to sue the previous owners for breach of contract, fraud, or negligent misrepresentation, you may try to bypass the legal system. Instead, work with a professional mediator or send a demand letter to the previous owner. Chances are, they would like to avoid expensive court costs, so they may be more than likely to work with you to help pay for the repair bills.
Avoid Problems by Working With Trusted Professionals
Always use a certified, experienced home inspector. This is not the time to be frugal, especially if you are purchasing an older home. Pay the extra money to work with someone who knows what they are doing.
As a buyer, consider working with a trusted buyer’s agent. Reach out to a Clever Partner Agent in your local area.
First, Clever Partner Agents have lots of experience working with other local agents. They know which agents may have utilized shady practices in the past to hide problems with their clients’ homes.
Second, Partner Agents have spent thousands of hours looking at homes. They aren’t as likely to be distracted by a home’s decor as a novice would be. They know how to look at the bones of a home to see if it was built to last.
Finally, Clever Partner Agents will use the inspector’s report to negotiate for the best price on your home. Are you willing to overlook a few cracks in the ceiling to get a price reduction? Your Partner Agent will advise you if this is a good idea or not.
Check with your agent to see if you qualify for a Home Buyer Rebate of $1,000. Use the money for closing costs or to update your master bathroom.
No one expects to find problems with their newly purchased home, but if you do, you certainly want professionals in your corner to offer advice. Fill out this form to be connected with a high-quality professional working in your local area.