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RealEstateAnswer, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 23444
Experience:  9+ years in handling Leases, Landlord-Tenant, Foreclosures,Mortgages, and Eviction cases
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One week from closing, I am the seller, freezer stopped working,

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One week from closing, I am the seller, freezer stopped working, what is my liability? Do I need to repair it?
Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help solve your problem.

Good morning. I certainly understand the situation and your concern. Yes, you likely do need to repair the freezer, if it was included in the sale of the home. I assume the freezer and all the other appliances were part of the sales contract and you have a duty to maintain them. While I understand that this is bad timing and you do not want to have to invest in the repair, the buyer is going to conduct a walk through inspection the day before or the day of the closing. If they determine this is broken and you knew about it and did not correct it, they could demand that it be fixed prior to closing on the home. The only alternative is to agree with them on a cost for the repair and write them a check so they can fix it on their own, after the fact. The home can not be neglected and they have a legal right to have all the appliances working when they take possession, pursuant to the sales contract. A home owner can not neglect a home or allow it to fall into repair, once a contact is signed and it is going to be sold and until title changes hands, you are still responsible for the home and its maintenance.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
What about if rain leaks through the roof or a pipe bursts damaging the home. The seller is responsible for all the repairs too?Hello?Hello?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Did you get my followup question?
Yes I did. I was in the process of responding. Until the closing is final and the risk of loss transfers to the buyer, the seller is responsible for maintaining the home. If you re-read the contract that was signed, I am inclined to believe there is language contained within that states that you need to maintain the property and the risk of loss does not pass until the closing takes place. If this was not the case, then in any real estate contract, the seller could neglect the home and the buyer could walk into a situation where they have to invest additional money into the home for repairs or even worse, buy a home that has burned down to the ground if the owner failed to maintain insurance on the property. An inspection should reveal any problems with the roof but if a pipe were to burst or something else were to happen prior to closing, it is the owner who would need to make the repair or else the seller may have a legal right to walk away and not close. The rights, obligations and duties of both parties should be listed in the contract and your responsibilities should be contained within. The deal is done once the closing documents are signed and title is transferred. If these types of problems were to occur the day after the closing, it would be the obligation of the new owner to make them. However, if they happen before, the cost should not be passed on, since the sale is not final. If the buyer were to walk away, these things would need to be fixed or else the next seller is unlikely to buy the home or would demand repairs.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you - drilling down further, the freezer breaks can the buyer legally force the seller to make or pay for the repairs or he only has the options of
(1) accept my refusal to pair for repairs or
(2) terminate the contract?
The buyer can not necessarily "force" the seller but could proceed to sue for damages, if it is determined that the seller breached the contract. You can certainly tell them that you are not making the repair and the cost will fall on them after the closing or if they do not like it, they can refuse to close and walk away. In addition, it is at your sole discretion to not say anything and allow them to discover the problem on their own but that is not the best thing to do in a situation like this because if they do discover it, it could delay things, along with your failing to perform an obligation under the contract. I am inclined to believe they have incurred expenses as part of this process to date, so they may try and recover those from you, as a result of not closing. If they were to proceed with the closing and want the home, they may decide to sue you after the fact for the cost plus attorney fees.
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