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Ray
Ray, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 29223
Experience:  Texas Attorney for 29 years dealing in real estate
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We are under contract to buy a home in ID with closing on 8/9.

Customer Question

We are under contract to buy a home in ID with closing on 8/9. It is in need of repair and being sold 'as is'. The home was vandalized on either 7/24 or 7/25 (I can't remember); the seller's insurance was going to cover repairs to restore it to condition of when the offer was made. It has since burned to the ground as of 8/2 (cause of fire is unknown.) What are our options and responsibilities?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ray replied 11 months ago.

RayAnswers :

Thanks for your question and good evening.My sympathy here for your dilemma.

RayAnswers :

You should contact your realtor here or the seller in writing and by phone to seek to cancel the sale.The seller here cannot complete the sale by the closing date because the house has burned down.You would seek return of your earnest money.

RayAnswers :

The terms of the sales contract control and it likely allows you to cancel in such a situation here.

RayAnswers :

Here is the standard sales contract here under item 20 liability remains with seller and the contract is void.You would demand that your earnest money be returned as the contract would be void.You will want to confirm this in your contract.This is pretty standard language.

RayAnswers :

You would accept nothing less than voiding the contract and return of your earnest money.It's the seller's problem and you would be entitled to a full refund of earnest money.

RayAnswers :

I appreciate the chance to assist you tonight.Please let me know if you have more follow up.Thanks again.

RayAnswers :

I hope that you will be so kind as to leave a positive rating. If you do have any additional questions about my answer please click the "Continue Conversation Link" so I can provide you with a fully satisfactory answer. Please be aware that any rating of 1 or 2 is reflected as a negative rating and I receive no credit for my answers.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship.Information provided here is not legal advice. Rather it is simply general information.

RayAnswers :


If the seller will not return your money you would sue them fro breach of contract.You can then seek damages and lawyer fees and costs.

RayAnswers :

Lawyer referral just in case you need to do so here.

RayAnswers :

I wish you the best here.Thanks for letting me help you.

Customer:

We wer a back-up offer that was moved to first position, then needed to extend the closing date when the vandalism happened. The extension mentioned something about non-refundable earnest money?

RayAnswers :

Well the terms of the extension control that issue.It depends on what you agreed to in the extension.I do think you argue that contract is void and you should get your earnest money back hopefully.

RayAnswers :

But you would not be obligated to continue with the sale.

Customer:

We were originally happy that the insurance would pay for some of the remodel needed, to get it back to the shape of when the offer was made. How is the fire different?

RayAnswers :

Well the standard contract under item 20 states the contract is void and that you are due your money back.You will need to review yours and any extension as they control your rights and liabilities.You may need a lawyer if they will not return the earnest money.

Customer:

The reason we made the earnest money non-refundable was because we were thinking the seller's would back out or not sign the extension because most of the repairs needed would be addressed or fixed with the insurance repairs. Now the situation is absolute. If we want to still buy the property, would insurance pay for a new house? Do we demand our earnest money and void the deal or is it better to demand to have the property in the same condition of when the offer was made?

Customer:

My husband was searching online tonight and said we may be liable vs the seller's for insurance from the day the offer was made (6/26).

RayAnswers :

I would consider a local lawyer to review the contract to see about the fire clauses and then send demand letter to void it and return your earnest money.

RayAnswers :

This should be the seller's problem , they cannot deliver the house in same condition as it was when it was inspected.

RayAnswers :

I don't think you want this house.It might take a year here to rebuild it.You never know if they had insurance and how much.I just cannot see you wanting to complete the sale if it really has been destroyed.

RayAnswers :

Hopefully you can get earnest money back and you can look for another property.I hope that is the case.

RayAnswers :

I certainly think the sales contract will have language allowing you to cancel since they cannot give you a house that has been fully repaired by closing.

RayAnswers :

You would start with realtor to cancel it and then a lawyer if they balk at it.

Customer:

I just found am item in the offer: 'prior to closing of this sale, all risk of lass shall remain with SELLER. In addition, should the property be materially damaged by fire, neglect, or other destructive cause prior to closing, this agreement shall be void at the option of the buyer'

RayAnswers :

That is the most cost effective way to try and resolve it.

RayAnswers :

Thats the paragraph I referred you too above.

RayAnswers :

And you should get your earnest money back in my mind.Otherwise you threaten legal action .

RayAnswers :

That clause is standard in your state among real estate agents.

Customer:

We can wait to have the property rebuilt, that is not the issue. The issue is there are no other homes in our price range and location. We were willing to get a home that needed repairs and put money into it to fix it up - now if we can have the seller's insurance policy provide a brand new home for the price of the fixer-upper, I think that is a good deal, right?

RayAnswers :

You can negotiate here thats for sure.You would do another amendment with new terms to that effect.

Customer:

I 'think' the fire was started due to a wind storm and power lines sparking.

RayAnswers :

These things happen.It's better it happened now and maybe you can amend and get a better house.

RayAnswers :

You would contact realtor about such an amendment.

RayAnswers :

I wish you good luck.

RayAnswers :

I appreciate the chance to chat.

RayAnswers :

If you can leave a positive rating it is much appreciated.

RayAnswers :

Thanks again.

Customer:

Obviously we wouldn't close by Friday - wouldn't that give the seller's the advantage to not honor the contract and rebuild/resale for a higher price?

RayAnswers :

Well at this point they may well want to try and keep you as a buyer.It is all negotiable.

RayAnswers :

They cannot honor the contract because of the fire.You can negotiate here for a new price and terms.This would be part of an amendment and signed by all.

Ray, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 29223
Experience: Texas Attorney for 29 years dealing in real estate
Ray and 15 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you

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