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FEBRUARY 19, 2019 • Stay Connected!
QUESTION: Seller is an estate selling home “as-is.” Form 22D was included in signed around contract with sections 3 and 4 both checked. Seller did not remove all trash, debris, or personal property and refuses to do so. My buyers are scheduled to sign today at 4 pm. What options do my buyers have in this circumstance? Does buyer actually have a leg to stand on in this situation?
ANSWER: This question is asking for an interpretation of buyer's legal rights and remedies in the face of seller's breach. Clearly, buyer wants broker to answer this question for buyer and broker, no doubt, wants to give buyer a simple answer. Unfortunately, that is not possible. In this scenario, the only advice broker can give buyer is that buyer should talk to buyer's lawyer.
The answer to the question will vary from case to case, based entirely on the facts at issue. If there are a few bags of trash left in the garage and a kitchen chair left in the kitchen, seller is in breach. If the entire house is still full, from floor to ceiling, of debris, furniture and personal belongings of the deceased previous occupant, the seller is also in breach. Hopefully, these two extremes illustrate why there cannot be a single answer that fits this question anytime it is asked. Depending on the materiality of seller's breach, the buyer will have a variety of potential remedies. Buyer may have the right to terminate the PSA or may have the right to sue the seller after closing for damages or may find the amount of buyer's damages does not justify the time and expense associated with litigation. If buyer's lawyer is involved, buyer's lawyer may be able to negotiate, draft and hold funds for a seller hold back at closing.
Simply put, although it is not the answer buyer wants, broker must advise this buyer to seek legal counsel. Only buyer's lawyer can advise buyer as to buyer's options and best strategies in the face of seller's intended breach.
The Legal Hotline Lawyer does not represent Washington REALTORS or its members. To browse through our database of past Q & A's, visit www.warealtor.org. Attorney Annie Fitzsimmons writes the Legal Hotline Question and Answer of the Week. Please submit questions to email@example.com or leave a message at 800.562.6027. Please include your NRDS number.
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Save the Date: Legal Symposium
The Washington REALTOR® Legal Symposium packs the house every year so put May 30th on your calendars now. This event featuresreal estate attorneys from around the state as they present on real estate legal topics that are important to you, your clients and your business. Registration information is coming soon but mark your calendars to attend!
The real estate industry has become more complex than ever before and having access to a real estate attorney is ideal for your business. Enter Annie Fitzsimmons; the Washington REALTOR® Legal Hotline Lawyer!
Taught by Legal Hotline Lawyer Annie Fitzsimmons, this class will teach use of the basic statewide residential forms and provide opportunity for students to ask questions relative to any of the statewide forms.
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