Sacramento Home Sellers’ Warning

Skull with Pirate Hat IllustrationYou might be tempted to believe that all real estate transactions are win-win, even the phrase win-win makes me cringe, but a win-win real estate transaction is not necessarily always the case. The win-win misperception was misappropriated many years ago by long-dead real estate gurus. Much of the time, it’s just not true. In real estate, one party typically makes out better than the other party, not much different than some divorce cases. Although you might say, hey, in the end they are both divorced now, one party is often a little bit better divorced than the other.

I know there are buyers and sellers who want to be good friends with each other. After all, they have something in common — the house! I’m all for enjoying friendships with the people who are buying or selling your home, just don’t try to cultivate that relationship during the transaction. Bad, bad idea. Sellers belong on one side of the fence and buyers on the other. You can kick the fence over after escrow closes.

Let’s say your home was built, for example, during the geological time known as the Asbestos Era, which is sometime during the Cenozoic period, in the Quarternary. Perhaps the buyer suddenly became worried that your home might contain asbestos, but the buyer’s inspection period had expired. On top of that, say the buyers had removed all of their contingencies. As a seller, you might feel it is OK to let the buyer complete an asbestos test, even though you’ve already paid for such a test and the results were negative.

You might believe that since the home is sold AS IS, the buyer has no claims against you. You might also believe that if the buyer finds asbestos, the buyer will have to give you the earnest money deposit if they were to cancel because that’s what the contract says. But you haven’t met the buyer’s lawyer who might argue the contingency period is reopened after the discovery of new information. The lawyer might further argue that somehow the seller possessed knowledge of this defect but failed to disclose it. Little is black-and-white in the law.

The fact is once a buyer’s investigations are completed, the inspections are over. If you are a seller, don’t be a buddy and let the buyers continue investigating. The friendship a seller may have forged with the buyer (or vice versa) could come back to haunt. For maximum protection, expect your Sacramento real estate agent to handle such discussions and arrangements.


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