Homebuying FAQs:What if the Seller Damages the House While Moving Out?

By
Real Estate Agent with Henderson, Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster 100026886
http://actvra.in/DNy

When I am working with Home Buyers, they always have questions about the process.  Usually, the questions will be regarding terms they are unfamiliar with, such as Under ContractPossession and Closing DateContingenciesConcessions or Earnest Money.

But there are always questions about more practical matters, too.

This spring, I was working with some buyers who found themselves a great 4 bedroom home for their family.  One of the features of the home that really stood out was the large unfinished basement.  They were excited about the idea of finishing the basement as a huge entertainment area and home theater for the large family get togethers they were planning to host.

The Seller had many pieces of workout equipment in the unfinished basement area, including a pretty extensive set of barbells.  Eyeballing the equipment and the width of the staircase going into the basement, my buyers nervously asked:

What if the Seller Damages the House While Moving Out?  They had nightmare images of moving into their new home and seeing gouges out of the drywall going into the basement....

 

The Colorado Contract to Buy and Sell is very comprehensive when it comes to damages on a property.  There is an entire section devoted to just this question:

You will note that it states "ordinary wear and tear".  This does not mean holes in the walls caused during moving!

 

This section further defines what the Buyer's remedies will be should there be damages including terminating the contract, delaying the Closing Date until the Seller repairs the items, or having the Seller assign Insurance Proceeds to the Buyer.

 

How Can a Home Buyer Know Whether Damage has Occurred?  Great question!  You should always do a Final Walk-Through of a property you are purchasing, preferably on the morning of Closing.  Again, the Colorado Contract addresses this specifically:

 


There are 4 sub-paragraphs in this section addressing types of damage, including fire, malfunction of systems, even condemnation of the property!  Rest assured, the Colorado Contract will have you covered.

Questions about the Colorado Contract to Buy and Sell and the Home Buying Process?  Call me today!  720-341-5235

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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
336,991
Jennifer Prestwich
Henderson, Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster - Henderson, CO
Your Castle RE Colorado

A Final Walk through is critical!  No one wants to argue at the closing table, but it's even more difficult to argue after the closing!

June 08, 2012 08:30 AM #4
Rainmaker
255,493
Mike & Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Windermere, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers

I have had occasional damage found at walk thru, or the discovery of latent defects that were hidden...like no carpet under the bed, and wall unit, stains where the furniture dye permeated the carpet, holes in the walls covered up with pictures...and even nice designer fans replaced with el cheapo's...

The buyers receive compensation.

 

Eve in Orlando

June 08, 2012 09:06 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,392,500
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Are the sellers always out at the time of closing in your market?

A walk through is very important but we sometimes have to concede and let the seller have a few days possesion after closing.  I think a walk through is still important but damage created by the seller or movers is still an issue for buyers to be concerned about.

 

June 08, 2012 09:12 AM #6
Rainer
277,179
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA
- Pierce, King, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason Counties

Jennifer -- you have set forth a very clear explanation for the process of protecting the buyer from decreased value, either accidental, or intentional - as Eve #5 mentioned.

June 08, 2012 10:08 AM #7
Rainmaker
234,873
Jenny Durling
L.A. Property Solutions - Los Angeles, CA
For Los Angeles real estate help 213-215-4758

A common problem I see is that the sellers don't move out until right before escrow closes and as mentioned above, some even stay a couple of days after closing.  I've had sellers leave furniture and kitchen cabinets full of food and I get a call from some unhappy buyers. How do you deal with this situation? I end up paying to take care of it so my client is happy.

June 08, 2012 10:18 AM #8
Rainmaker
669,058
Pamela Seley, REALTOR®
REALTY EXECUTIVES OTF - Temecula, CA
Menifee Lakes California Real Estate

It's best if sellers move before close of escrow and buyers should do a final walk-through. Like you say, Jennifer, if there are any damages the buyer can withhold closing until they are remedied. This is the best way to deal with this, in my opinion. Allowing the sellers to stay after close of escrow presents problems, as Jenny #8 duly notes. Thanks for your post today,

June 08, 2012 10:58 AM #9
Rainmaker
430,498
Adam Brett
The Adam and Eric Team - Fullerton, CA
The Adam and Eric Team, Setting the New Standard

A walk through is such an important part of the process; almost a must. Great Post!

June 08, 2012 11:21 AM #10
Rainmaker
313,710
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Jennifer, great post! Final walk throughs eliminate a lot of problems and IMHO extremely important.

June 08, 2012 11:54 AM #11
Rainmaker
338,526
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley R since 1976;408-565-8177

Jenn, sounds like the CO contract has worked this potential problem through, but it can become another sticky wicket.  Timing sometimes prevents a walk-thru after the seller moves out and before closing/recording.  We used to have escrow withhold some seller's proceeds, like a security deposit, but escrow doen't like doing that any more because of disputes around its release.  Usually I keep my fingers crossed and haven't had any problems recently.  Thankfully, most sellers out here are really very responsible and repair any move-out damage without being asked.

June 08, 2012 11:57 AM #12
Rainmaker
1,974,478
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
"New Franklin MA Homes"

Hi Jennifer....the final walk through must be after the movers have finished their job and everything is out of the house.... if they are moving during the closing, there should be a hold back of enough to patch walls and paint...

June 08, 2012 12:33 PM #13
Rainmaker
445,308
Kathy Stoltman
Rockwood Realty - Ventura, CA
Ventura County Real Estate Consultant 805-746-1793

Walk throughs are important and "knock on wood" most of mine have not had any real issues and those that did were quickly remedied for which I am really grateful.

June 08, 2012 07:29 PM #14
Ambassador
1,231,992
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Yes the final walk thru is the time to judge if the seller has damaged the house on the way out.

June 08, 2012 08:13 PM #15
Rainmaker
1,050,562
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

The final walk-thru is the key .. It is best to do so when the seller has moved out.. and if at all possible a couple of hour prior to closing.

June 08, 2012 08:22 PM #16
Ambassador
1,195,770
Tammie White
Benchmark Realty, LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.TWRealtyGroup.net - Franklin, TN
TW Realty Group, Franklin TN, South of Nashville

I have a contract on one of my listings where the buyer wants to do the final walk-thru 48 hours prior to closing. However, my clients won't be moved out at that point. Why would anyone do that? I always take my buyers to the final walk-thru the morning of closing. Then if there's a problem, we can address it there.

June 08, 2012 08:44 PM #17
Rainer
176,383
Eagle Ridge Realty
Eagle Ridge Realty - Gilroy, CA
"Our Performance Will Move You!"

Oh man, this is the worst thing that can happen to an agent...  I had a transaction once, representing the buyer, and the seller wanted to save a few dollars by having her 3 sons move the furniture.  All went well until the last item--the piano.  They rolled it across a hardwood floor and left wheel mark grooves on the flooring.  The seller was kind enough to offer to pay for a new floor sanding and refinishing-- at a cost of $2,000.  Two things come to mind in a transaction...  1) Play nice,as we did, and she was glad my client bought the house, and 2) there are just some areas of moving that are not worth cost cutting on.  Moving is one of them...  Always use a reputable, INSURED moving company.

June 08, 2012 09:00 PM #18
Ambassador
1,554,208
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 800-610-7253 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Jennifer - This is a valid question and shows why it's important to have a walk through.

June 08, 2012 10:09 PM #19
Rainmaker
1,267,686
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner
BuyersAgentPortland.com | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% o... - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

A walk thru prior to closing isn't going to show the condition of the property AFTER the sellers move out, would it?!?   The best clause is the where the condition of the property is what was existing during the contract.  If the "damage" wasn't showing up in the home inspection and documented then it's on the former owners, IMHO.

June 08, 2012 10:25 PM #20
Ambassador
1,091,473
Joni Staples
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

The only time I really worry about this when they seller moves out of the house AFTER closing. Final walk throughs solve the problem when the seller moves out prior to closing. But when they lease back to the seller a few days to allow them time to move out.... I always worry if they will leave it clean, remove all of their things, etc. So far, thankfully, I have not had and major issues with this.

June 09, 2012 08:00 AM #21
Ambassador
936,260
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9663

Thanks Jennifer, always a valid question and its good that you have a good answer ready for your clients.

June 10, 2012 11:42 PM #22
Rainmaker
958,403
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 TheHomeFunnel.com - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Jennifer, good questions. I really believe in having a final walk-through, I hate surprises after closing. 

July 31, 2014 10:03 AM #23
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Rainmaker
336,991

Jennifer Prestwich

Your Castle RE Colorado
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