We are haunted with real estate transaction errors and confused as to what to do. Do you have advice for us?

February 23, 2016

Unfortunately, this scenario happens more often than you would expect. Review the following comments to consider.

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Reader Question: We purchased and updated an “ as-is ” home in the late nineties. The seller tried to renege at the closing, but our agent prevailed. Her help created a bond, and we remained friends for years. We spoke highly of her, sent her clients and potential employees.

We decided to move and listed with the same agent for $725K in 2008. Our home search led us to a $850K house a few miles away. We fell in love with it and signed a contract for $830K. Our agent was a good friend of the seller. We had a home inspection, but the inspector injured his back and could not get on the roof. The inspector noted no roof damage in his report.

Our agent suggested that an empty home would sell faster, so we moved in before our old home sold. The next day it rained, hard. We had significant damage in several areas. The previous owner’s do-it-yourself roof repairs resulted in the leakage. The repairs cost tens of thousands of dollars. We sued the seller, but not the agent, as she was still trying to sell our other house.

We received a small settlement from the seller and fired our agent. Our old house sold in 2010 for $550K, far less than the earlier estimate when we closed to own two homes.

We have been unable to forgive our agent. We own up to real estate transaction errors, but she provided no guidance or insight and misled us on the roof inspection. We never received a Seller Condition Report as we were unaware they existed. We feel “taken” and the experience is haunting us. We expect the statute of limitations has expired.

We are considered moving about 250 miles to be closer to relatives, but we would take a big loss. Based on our last selling experience, we are thinking an auction if we go ahead. Our other choice is simply to try to enjoy life here and leave the house to our children. Do you have any advice for us? William G.

Monty’s Answer: Relocating to be near relatives depends on at least two factors:

  1. How well do you know them and get along? If the notion is that you want to spend more time with them, do they feel the same way?
  2. How stable are they? By this I mean are they subject to job relocation? Where does their family live? Are they elderly? Are they in good health?

If the move is to get away from the experience, remember the saying, “Wherever I go, there I am.” Spend a few weekends with them over time to better gauge the chemistry. Then ask yourself, is this worth moving here? Are all the reasons you live where you do still valid?

This article at https://dearmonty.com/home-sellers-consider-an-auction-sale/ has insights on the pros and cons of an auction. Auctions are not for everyone. Auctions sales can also experience significant issues.

Statute of limitations

Consider seeking a legal opinion on the statute of limitations. The clock begins ticking on the discovery of the problem in many states. If you learn that to omit a seller-condition report was against the law when you consult with an attorney; is that when the clock starts ticking in your state? Only a lawyer in your jurisdiction could answer this question.

Is it possible what is haunting you is the fact you have not pursued the agent? It will not be expensive to get an opinion. You will have a better idea of your options when you become informed. A sage friend once told me he never gets into a fight he knows he cannot win.

Invest time in vetting providers

If you decide to seek a legal opinion, sell your home and move, proper representation with both services is paramount to a satisfactory outcome. This article about choosing personal services https://dearmonty.com/multiple-choices-improve-consumer-experience/ may be helpful. You admit to some mistakes you made, but the biggest mistake was choosing the wrong agent.

This article at https://dearmonty.com/8-tips-find-good-real-estate-attorney/ is about finding a good real estate attorney. You already have the white paper mentioned in the article near completion.

If you decide to sell your home, this article https://dearmonty.com/which-real-estate-agent-to-choose/ is about finding a good agent. Include a local auctioneer in the mix to learn if an auction fits your situation. There are many good real estate agents, but ensuring you identify and vet suitable agents requires effort. Keep the meme “Trust, but verify” in the forefront.