Stuff* Happens!

Real Estate Agent with Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894

Murphy's Law. Bad Luck.  Crappy Timing.  There's a lot of stuff that can happen to your home as you prepare to list it for sale.

Bad Luck Charlie

And it's understandable. As (most of) you begin the long slog of de-cluttering, primping and getting ready for photos, some problems are revealed.  Could be a wall that needs painting (once the bookshelf is removed).  Pitch that aging and ugly recliner and suddenly a stain in the carpeting is revealed. Or, as one client recently experienced, a difficult to replace shower slider broke just days before settlement, having worked perfectly for all the years they lived in the house. But of course!

Sometimes the momentum is such that it's impossible to repair/fix/replace the item before the house goes on the market. One can let prospective buyers know that the item will be tended to prior to settlement. Or, in some extreme cases, the item can be "disclosed" as faulty and the buyer can decide themselves if it will prevent them from making an offer.

If your house is under contract and the dishwasher blows, unfortunately, it's up to you (Seller) to replace it.  Even if your house is being sold "as-is", if the darned thing was working when you signed the paperwork, it is your obligation to deliver the property to the new buyer with a functional dishwasher.  The only exception might be for a tear-down, in which case the buyer might not care.

Over my 15-year career in real estate, I've been involved in purchases and sales where furnaces have been replaced (twice!), basements have flooded, microwaves have conked out, roofs have leaked, and trees have been condemned by the county... all in between contract and settlement (and that's just the stuff I can remember today). Colleagues of mine have fared worse, with entire houses burning down, sink holes emerging, pest infestations, and more.  Yikes.

The good news is that the majority of sellers have insurance for the major stuff.  And buyers, if it can't be remedied, you will not be forced to go through with the purchase. There are protections out there for both parties.

Caveat Emptor!

Posted by


Marcie Sandalow is a realtor with Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. in Chevy Chase, DC.   
With 15+ years in the business, and a sharp understanding of her client's needs, she serves Buyers and Sellers
in and around Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Washington, DC, Kensington, Rockville, Silver Spring and Takoma Park. 

Cell:  301/758-4894

Website: and

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Comments (32)

Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Marcie, stuff does happen and someone will have to deal with it. I had sellers replace a water heater once while waiting to close. Home warranties covering the listing period are definitely a good idea.

Aug 16, 2014 11:17 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I haven't had any Sellers that faced those problems, thank goodness!

Aug 16, 2014 01:16 PM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

We all hope that stuff happens before the property is put on the market.  This is not always the case as we see from the various posts.

Aug 16, 2014 01:30 PM
Gerard Gilbers
Higher Authority Markeing - Asheboro, NC
Your Marketing Master

Great post. Murphy does have a tendency to strike when least expected, especially right before closing! I prefer a final walk through within hours of the closing to make sure there is little time for things to go wrong.

Aug 16, 2014 02:26 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Stuff sure does happen! I've seen it many times. But fortunately, I've found that it doesn't happen all that often, which is a good thing.

Aug 16, 2014 10:10 PM
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

Stuff happens in life, in our business, and with our homes.  It's best to just keep calm and deal with it!

Aug 16, 2014 10:27 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Yes to things going wrong and a bigger yes to having a pro on board when they do...

Aug 16, 2014 11:37 PM
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

That is what makes real estate so EASY! Nothing unusual happens because we have complete control of everything, especially other people's homes,, mother nature and government entities. /sarcasm  

Aug 16, 2014 11:38 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Marcie!  I included this post in today's "Last Weeks Favorites on ActiveRain".

Aug 17, 2014 01:49 AM
Marcie Sandalow
Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 - Bethesda, MD
Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate

Gerard- I like to do walk throughs as close to settlement, too.  Though, if you find something, it's not always an easy remedy given the stricter lending regulations.  Damned if you do, damned if you don't. 

Nina, Tammie, Joan, Silvia- it doesn't happen a lot, thankfully.

Amanda & Jared- keeping calm is critical.  

Richie- it's true that having an experienced agent on board is a good thing. As Amanda and Jared mentioned, you just deal with it.  

Than- spot on!

Thanks, Pat!

Aug 17, 2014 03:06 AM
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

Yes, I have had chandeliers removed...pipes bursting at walk prepared and that is why you have great agents that can react & solve the issues too...Marcie, I want a quiet month...don't jinx it!

Aug 17, 2014 07:36 AM
Ed (Edward) Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Yes, stuff does happen and if it happens prior to closing, hopefully it will be scooped up quickly and the house will be as it was intended to be sold

Aug 17, 2014 12:18 PM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

Marcie, I really like the picture not for the content but because it shows just how close those sunny skies are.  Keep plugging away you're doing great!

Aug 17, 2014 04:56 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Saw this on Patricia's weekly post.  I think we can all relate to good old Murphy, LOL!

Aug 17, 2014 09:42 PM
Wayne Zuhl
Remax First Realty II - Cranford, NJ
The Last Name You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

When we list a home, we provice a home warrantee to buyers that covers all of these things for the SELLER from the time they list until closing and then covers the buyer after that.

Aug 17, 2014 11:20 PM
Sharon Paxson
Sharon Paxson, Realtor® EQTY Forbes Global Properties - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

Good Morning - when we list a home here our brokerage provides seller coverage through the home warranty policiy and it has helped in so many cases. The seller can also use it for the request for repairs which often comes up during a transaction. The home warranty continues for a year after the home is sold, and the buyer (new owner) has option to re-new it!

Aug 18, 2014 01:40 AM
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I have had sellers have extremely bad luck with water heaters.  Less than 7 years old and they want to break the day before the closing.....ugh..  I feel your pain.

Aug 18, 2014 02:30 AM
Susan Jackson
America's Network Realty Group, Inc - Sandy Springs, GA

Those water heaters can be a real pain in the neck ( using a nice word), they always break at the wrong time and make for a big mess. I have had that happen more than once.

Aug 18, 2014 04:35 AM
Marcie Sandalow
Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 - Bethesda, MD
Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate

Ginny- don't go on vacation.  That's when it all starts to get loud. 

Susan & Karen- the water heaters usually wait to implode after my buyers have moved in. 

Wayne, Jean & Sharon- gotta love those home warranties.

Ed & Kevin- as much as this stuff can throw you, I can't say I've ever had a transaction fall apart because of it.  Lucky, so far! 

Aug 18, 2014 05:34 AM
Claude Labbe
RLAH / @properties - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

About a year ago, a neighboring townhome was on fire.  When I got to the street to see it, it occurred to me that this was the vacant home for sale.

That made for an interesting phone call from me to the listing agent suggesting he may want to come see the fire trucks at his listing, or at least tell his renovator who'd just finished the job.

It's not if stuff happens, it's when stuff happens.

Aug 19, 2014 12:58 PM