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Old 10-15-2009, 12:10 AM
 
5 posts, read 19,762 times
Reputation: 18

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We purchased our first home in CA 12 months ago. Just yesterday during the terrible storm water began streaming in thru a seam created above a window in the sheet rock.

We called the local window repair guy, who happens to live around the corner from us. He said that the previous owners had called him out about 4 years ago to look at the window for a leak. He didn't think it was the window, rather the framing around it. The owners didn't call him back to fix the problem. We don't know if they had it fixed or just decided to do nothing.

Either way, they didn't disclose this issue, in any way.

The next call I made was to my realtor who called the other realtor. Evidently, the sellers are denying they ever knew of any damage and are saying that unless we can produce a bid in writing that we should be prepared to hire a lawyer because this is all just "he said, she said".

I'm not sure if the "contractor" has records but we will ask him to check. Would his word be enough to pursue legal action?
I really would rather avoid that; I just want the Sellers to do the right thing.

I'm also concerned about the extent of the damage - if there has been gradual water damage over a period of years. Do we need to open up the walls?? Until it stops raining, no one can fix this so we have time to figure out the righ course of action (until this weekend anyhow).

What should my next steps be once we figure out how big a deal this really is?

Thanks!
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:50 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
1,571 posts, read 3,472,313 times
Reputation: 1314
I don't think there's much here. Here's why,
1. You have owned the home for a year and this was the first time it leaked.
2. The window repair guy said it was a problem 4 years ago. Because he didn't think it was the window, he made no repair but that's not evidence that the homeowner did NOT get the problem repaired.
3. It took a "terrible" storm for it to leak. So it couldn't be a continual problem.
4. The seller is not required to disclose every repair made to a home thoughout their ownership. They are only required to disclose known material defects. If it had leaked 4 years ago & it was repaired & there was no re-occuring problem while it was on the market - there's nothing to disclose because there is no current known defect. To illistrate the point: If you sold the home last month you would not have disclosed the leak ... there wasn't any at that time.

You are correct, you will need to find out how big of a problem it is. Still, I have to question if this battle is worth fighting.
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:31 AM
 
5 posts, read 19,762 times
Reputation: 18
MMichelle, thanks for your reply.

Couple clarifications - the window guy identified the problem and offered to fix it but they declined to have him fix it for what ever reason. Versus the problem being out of his realm of expertise. The problem was the framing around the window versus the window itself.

3. Interesting point. Although, if the window guy was called out before for the same problem, obviously this isn't the only time that it has leaked. Even if they patched something up, logic tells me that the problem wasn't fixed, which gets back to the point of disclosure, right?

4. My realtor was convinced that this is something that clearly should have been disclosed, whether they fixed it or not. Maybe this is a CA thing? I'm definitely no expert.
For example, they disclosed other things like improvements made to the property and fixes (like toilet leaks), but not this.

There still may not be much there, but I'm not convinced yet. ;-)
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:37 AM
 
Location: Northern, VA
980 posts, read 2,054,777 times
Reputation: 521
You've lived in the house for a YEAR. The window guy around the corner visited the house 4 YEARS ago and the owners never called him back. The repair guy THINKS it was the framing around the window. How do you know if the problem actually was with the window and the previous owner had someone else fix it? How do you know the window guy around the corner isn't just a busy body who just wants to cause trouble?

Let's say you hire an attorney...who will likely allow you to believe you have a case whether you do or not...and you go before a judge. Put yourself in the judges shoes and think about what you would say about a case with the "evidence" you've presented on this forum.

Unless you bought a brand new house that was still under warranty, you're going to have to pay to fix some things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbia View Post
We purchased our first home in CA 12 months ago. Just yesterday during the terrible storm water began streaming in thru a seam created above a window in the sheet rock.

We called the local window repair guy, who happens to live around the corner from us. He said that the previous owners had called him out about 4 years ago to look at the window for a leak. He didn't think it was the window, rather the framing around it. The owners didn't call him back to fix the problem. We don't know if they had it fixed or just decided to do nothing.

Either way, they didn't disclose this issue, in any way.

The next call I made was to my realtor who called the other realtor. Evidently, the sellers are denying they ever knew of any damage and are saying that unless we can produce a bid in writing that we should be prepared to hire a lawyer because this is all just "he said, she said".

I'm not sure if the "contractor" has records but we will ask him to check. Would his word be enough to pursue legal action?
I really would rather avoid that; I just want the Sellers to do the right thing.

I'm also concerned about the extent of the damage - if there has been gradual water damage over a period of years. Do we need to open up the walls?? Until it stops raining, no one can fix this so we have time to figure out the righ course of action (until this weekend anyhow).

What should my next steps be once we figure out how big a deal this really is?

Thanks!
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Hermoso y tranquilo Panamá
11,854 posts, read 5,583,125 times
Reputation: 46741
I agree with the Tish and Michelle - it's been a year, a he said/she said thing with this guy around the corner who 'says' the sellers contacted him 4 years ago and 10-1 you'd spend more $$$ litigating this than just repairing it yourself since you bought the home so long ago. Attorneys are not cheap and I really don't see a judge ruling in your favor after this long - could be wrong, but . . . I know it sucks to have this happen, but IMO I'd just fix it and move on than waste a lot of time on negativity as well as a lot of money in attorney fees.
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Passed out on the trail to Hanakapi'ai
1,486 posts, read 2,290,596 times
Reputation: 953
This question needs to be a sticky.

It gets asked about once a week
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:32 AM
 
21,579 posts, read 36,422,679 times
Reputation: 10590
I completely sympathize with the OP being upset -- when one's house "springs a leak" even during the heaviest storm it can really ruin your whole idea of just how sound the home is.

That said, it seems completely out of line for your agent to lead you to believe this is something worth pursuing. Frankly if I was in your agent's place I would have handled this very differently.

I don't care what state this sort of problem arises in, the reaction of the seller, a year after the sale, would almost certainly be "you have got to be kidding me".

The window guy that the OP has is not going to be able to supply anything other than an unaccepted estimate that is four years old. The seller may very well have hired some one else to make a different kind of repair and/or got the opinion of qualified contractors that there were other ways to address the problem.

I completely understand the desire to try and recoup some of the costs of this repair, especially if the effort to determine the extent of the problem reveals more work is needed, but in my experience the way to handle this is through home-owners insurances and/or out of your home maintenance budget.

I have seen very very very very very very many people try to pursue a seller for failing to disclose a problem but only a tiny number of such people ever end up and in a court and then only a vanishingly small minority recoup costs at all...

While my experience is not in California, I believe the same situations generally apply.

Should you be able to recall all the details of the original sale that was over a year ago you may be able to present something to the seller that might tug at them a wee bit (especially if them seemed like they were the type of people to want to avoid dealing with lawyers) and get them to send you some sort of compensation, but really I can say as a seller that HAS been approached by buyers that the "right thing" is ultimately NOT just what serves the buyer, but what the facts bear out. The facts as presented do not scream out "fraud".
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Barrington
19,680 posts, read 14,088,780 times
Reputation: 6128
Find out what the real problem is and the cost to repair it.
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:33 AM
Status: "Bernie. Sanders 2016" (set 9 hours ago)
 
Location: Mountain Ranch, CA The heart of Calaveras County
6,096 posts, read 11,400,568 times
Reputation: 4845
Quote:
Originally Posted by MMichelle View Post
4. The seller is not required to disclose every repair made to a home thoughout their ownership.
Actually in CA they are required to disclose repairs made on the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and on the Seller Property Questionnaire (SPQ) forms. They are even required to disclose repairs made before their ownership if they knew about them. One of the questions even asks about any painting that has been done in the past year.

In this case where they apparently didn't do any repairs, they wouldn't have had to disclose anything, except if they knew about a material defect in the window. This being somewhat problematic in this case as the storm that just rolled through CA was exceptional in it's wind and quantity of water. I'd suggest to the OP just seeing if homeowners insurance will cover the damage. Going to arbitration is going to be a long and costly thing and even if the OP is in the right, not likely to produce the desired results.
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:55 AM
 
Location: Salem, OR
10,925 posts, read 18,576,045 times
Reputation: 6849
Quote:
Originally Posted by DMenscha View Post
Actually in CA they are required to disclose repairs made on the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and on the Seller Property Questionnaire (SPQ) forms. They are even required to disclose repairs made before their ownership if they knew about them. One of the questions even asks about any painting that has been done in the past year.

This is crazy and seems ripe for failure to disclose lawsuits. I don't think it is realistic for any home owner to remember every repair they made to their house over 30 years...

Shoot, I can't remember things from a month ago...in my "old" age.
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