Do sellers really "forget"?
Disclosure disclaimers. We all live with them. But what happens when the seller "forgets"?
This deal went down the tubes when we realized the sellers kept forgetting every issue they had. The scenario: very nice home in great neighborhood. Multiple offers. We didn't get it (I represented the buyers).
A week later I get a text from the listing agent saying their deal with the first buyers was falling apart. My buyers were thrilled. However, I asked "why did their deal fall apart?" "Home inspection" he says. "What specifically?" "Well, the sellers forgot the dining room chandelier didn't convey". No big deal for my buyers. "AND the sellers forgot the master bath leaked thru the ceiling into the living room". Hmmm, they said they will repair that. "Ok", my buyers said. "AND they forgot that there was a fire in the detached garage years ago, and the first buyers wanted the entire garage replaced to the tune of $30,000 which the sellers were never going to do". However, they would get a structural engineer to certify, "OK" my buyers said. So my buyers went ahead and we went under contract.
I try to schedule the sewer inspection with my go to guy, only for him to tell me he has been working with those sellers for years and it would be a conflict of interest for him to do the sewer inspection. Then he says, "that house has always had sewer issues, in fact, that entire line needs to be replaced, and it is in an extremely hard to get to place". He suggests another good sewer inspector and I schedule with him. Clearly these sellers knew about the blocked sewer line and didn't disclose that either! So are we to believe they forgot this too?
While at the home for the sewer inspection we ask to see the fire damage in the garage. You see, the garage was locked when we originally went thru the house, and no key was left. Hmmm. Once inside the garage it looked fine, but had a plywood false ceiling. The ceiling had a trap door which we opened, and voila, the entire ceiling was completely charred! Forgot? They forgot about that? Really? The sellers had only been in the house 10 years, and even though the fire was around 50 years ago, somehow I couldn't believe they forgot about mentioning it.
Of course we find the 90+% blocked sewer line, and find the issue is directly under a huge beautiful tree. To dig the sewer line up will mean removing the tree, and the line turns and runs under the concrete cement driveway. Looking at a $7000-15000+ job, not counting replacing an old full tree with a new one.
My buyer was calm through the sewer inspection, but after talking it over with his wife, she had no confidence in the sellers and wanted out. Once the listing agent got my request for release, he started yelling at me saying he would see me in court blah blah blah. "How dare we accuse his sellers of being liars?" (his word, not mine). Calmly I asked him if his sellers had prior knowledge about the sewer line. He said "of course not". Then I told him how I knew prior to us having the sewer inspection that there would be a problem, and where it was. So, either the listing agent didn't ask any of the right questions OR his sellers had the worse memories in history, OR hmmm, maybe they just weren't really being honest.
Either way, my buyers wanted out. I told him we could go forward with the home inspection, but we would ask for everything under the moon, and it would be quicker and easier to just let us out of the contract.
Again screaming at me, the listing agent said his sellers would be furious if we asked for the release. I said we already asked for it (signed document) and for him to please confer with the sellers.
We went ahead and scheduled the home inspection and chimney inspection, but a day before they were to happen, the listing agent emails me and says the sellers are signing the release. Yahoo!
Lesson: I will forever be cautious about what sellers put down on the disclosure disclaimer forms. And, I will make absolutely sure my buyers know exactly what their rights are in ordering inspections, starting with not being afraid to ask for any inspection they want.
What do you think? Do sellers really "forget"?