Is Home Seller Responsible for Repairs after Closing

When you are selling your home, make sure you follow the law to the T. If you deviate from the law, you could end up losing a lot. Typically, when you and the homebuyer decide to close the deal, you have to sign the purchase agreement. Once you pen your signature on the agreement, you are legally bound by the terms and conditions mentioned therein. Hence, make sure you read the contract carefully. If you don’t understand any part or section, consult your lawyer. If the purchase agreement specifically mentions that you, the seller, have to make specific repairs, you are obligated to do them. Whether there is a liability is a different matter altogether.

house issues after closing

Image courtesy of Kookkai_nak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Home Inspection

Any prospective homebuyer will always have a home inspection done before negotiating the deal with you. This inspection tells the potential buyer the problems that the house has and the expenses he may incur in the future to rectify those problems.

As the seller, the home inspector will also forward a copy of his report to you. This report will contain details of the areas of the house that require repairs. Some of the repairs may be minor, others could be quite comprehensive.

What Happens After Home Inspection

Once you and the prospective buyer get the home inspector’s report, the next step depends on the state of the real estate market in your area. Just like everything else, even the housing market is controlled by supply and demand. If the number of houses for sale in the area is high, the buyer has more options. Hence, he can ask you to make the repairs listed in the home inspection report.

However, if the number of homes in the area is limited and the buyer is keen to own a home, he may forgo asking you to make the repairs.

Home Owner’s Liability

Once you sign the purchase agreement and it mentions a list of repairs, you, the seller, are liable to complete those repairs. Furthermore, if you do the repairs, there is a possibility the buyer will waive his rights to get a second home inspection done. If this happens, it is good news for the seller, as it ends his liability. This said, you need to be honest with your dealings. If you falsify the repairs or give false assurance to the buyer about the repairs, the buyer can take legal action against you.

Making Complete Disclosure

As a home seller, you are obligated by law to make complete disclosure of the defects that your home has. Many states have rules that necessitate home owners to fill out multiple disclosure forms stating the condition of their home. You cannot deliberately hold back information from the buyer if you know there is a problem with your property.

Unreasonable Buyer Demands

Sometimes, homebuyers discover issues after signing the agreement and these issues are not mentioned in the purchase agreement. This prompts the homebuyer to start making unreasonable demands of getting the issues fixed. Remember, you do not have to perform any repairs not mentioned in the purchase agreement just because the homebuyer feels they are needed. But, if there are some repairs that you were aware of before closing the sale of your home and still did not mention the same to the buyer, you should get them fixed.

Repairs after Closing House Sale

Any repair after closing the sale of the house depends on how well you have negotiated with the house buyer. If the home inspection has found major problems with the house, it is in your interest to perform the repairs or lose the buyer. Even if you manage to find another buyer, he too will get a home inspection done and the same issues will once again be highlighted. So, if you are serious about selling your home, you should get the major problems fixed after getting the home inspection report. You do not have to agree to any type of cosmetic repair.

When repairs have to be done after closing, there are a few options that you have as the seller. These are as follows:

  • You can give the buyer a lump sum amount that covers the repair costs.
  • You can pay a contractor to perform the necessary repairs.
  • The seller can withhold a certain amount from the final payment for the house in a trust and use the same to do the repairs.

The option you choose will depend on the severity of the problem and the amount of repair required. Make sure the terms and conditions of repairs and payment for the repairs are mentioned in the purchase agreement.

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