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Many years ago, way back in 1996 we had to relocate and sell our home. It was in the last market downturn and we had vacated our home for almost a year before it finally sold. Shortly after the "first-time buyers" had moved in, they took a bath and the water had leaked into the carpeted master bathroom. Since that never happened when we lived there, we didn't understand how something like that could happen or be our fault for that matter.
Unfortunately for us, the buyers thought it was a pre-existing condition that we didn't disclose, so the beginning of a 4 year arbitration had unfolded. Years later, we realized the home sat vacant for 11 months and we were told by a plumbing contractor, it was entirely possible that the seal on the bathtub dried out during that vacant timeframe, so when the buyers decided to draw their first bath, the new moisture and their weight cracked the seal. It turned out that the plumbing had similar incidents in other parts of the house, probably for the same reason. Soon the problem escalated into many more issues with the house and with attorneys involved, it became a long drawn out process.
Even though the buyers had their homeowner's insurance and warranty company cover the damage, they continued to seek compensation from us. It was apparent to us while we read their deposition, according to their perception, whatever issue came up after they lived in the home, whether it was real or not - from their standpoint, we were going to be responsible. In the end, and after all that time we finally settled, but we realized we should have handled that situation differently. The biggest lesson for us, was that we should never let a molehill become a mountain.
The reason why this experience is so haunting to me these days, is because there have been so many vacant homes sitting on the market with the recent short sale and foreclosure environment. Many of them are bank owned and not being maintained. Many short sales have owners still occupying them which to me, seems like a good thing now. And still some homes are just sitting vacant for one reason or another.
If you are planning to relocate and vacate your home, the obvious maintenance for most people would be taking care of the landscaping. That's easy to hire someone to do that. The not-so-obvious maintenance is what I mentioned above. If you are still in the local area, you might consider visiting your home to run the water in the whole house once or twice a week, run the dishwasher, flush the toilets, basically test the plumbing. Check the electricity; turn on and off the lights, run the garbage disposal. When we sold the home referenced above, because some agents forgot to turn off the lights, we had some electrical repairs to deal with, when it went through escrow. If you're no longer living in the area, request that your listing agent do these small things for you. Hopefully, if these precautions are put into place, then less homeowners will have to experience the ordeal I described above.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.