There have been two transactions recently where damaged hardwood floors have been an issue. Personally I was shocked by what I heard from the listing agent.
The Floors are Clearly Damaged
During the final walk through, my buyer and I discovered that both the living room floor and a bedroom floor had been damaged. When we first looked at the property both floors had been covered up with large area rugs with furniture on top of the rugs. When reviewing the Property Disclosures there was no mention of the damaged floors. The living room floor had black stains that looked to be from either water or a pet. The bedroom floor had old residue from an area rug.
Let's Correct the Issue
Since settlement was to be the following day, I immediately emailed the listing agent to inform him of the defect, that it wasn't on the Disclosures and to see what could be done about correcting them. The buyer was okay with the living room floor since she was going to put a large rug in the room just as the seller had done. However the bedroom floor needed to be corrected. The listing agent got back to me before we left the house and said, "the residue was there when the seller bought the house. They tried to fix it but didn't have any success." So the seller knew there was a floor defect and didn't disclose it. I then told the listing agent that we needed to get an estimate to see how much it would cost to fix the issue and the seller could give the buyer a credit at settlement. And that's when the debate began.
Remove Pictures and Move Furniture
The listing agent said that since the house was sold in "as-is" condition, the seller did not have the responsibility of repairing anything. I said, since the seller knew the floors were defective they should have disclosed it. What the listing agent said next shocked me. He said, "the floors aren't defective, it's just glue." Now I don't know about you, but where I come from normal floors don't have glue on them. It's not normal, but he was insisting that it was "completely normal". He also noted that since we conducted a home inspection, the inspector or myself should have lifted up the rugs to see if the floors were in good condition. After sixteen years in the business I have never seen an inspector lift up a rug and told him so. I said that's like asking the inspector to remove pictures from the wall and move furniture to make sure there are no holes in the walls. He said, "well you should be doing that, it's your responsibility." Remove pictures? Move furniture? Who in the world does that?
The Buyer Has Reasonable Expectations
Unless disclosed, I believe it's completely reasonable for a buyer to expect the floors under a rug to look like the floors that are exposed. Just as it is completely reasonable for a buyer to expect the walls behind a picture don't have a hole. At this point the listing agent's emails were getting pretty angry. So to end the conversation the listing agent said, "we'll have to agree to disagree and we'll talk about it at settlement". I was blown away. I had always been taught that if the seller knows of a defect, they need to disclose it. By disclosing it, the prospective buyer can determine how they want to craft their offer. But that's just how I run my business.
It's Called Negotiation
Myself, the buyer and the seller arrive a few minutes early to settlement. The seller is delightful. We chat and there is no mention of the floor issue. The listing agent arrives late and offers no apology and he is clearly angry. The settlement attorney stops what he is doing to address the floor issue. Turning red in the face, the listing agent begins a rant that the seller isn't going to do anything about the floors. I glance at the seller and he looks disgusted. I honestly believe it was one of those things that the seller simply forgot about until he was rolling up the rug. It was a very easy thing to overlooked. Since I wasn't getting anywhere with the listing agent I turned to the attorney and the seller and offered the quote I received from a flooring company. The seller then states that he also got a quote from a floor company. Mine is high, his is low. The listing agent is still insisting that the seller shouldn't pay anything. I tell him it was a disclosure issue, but he's not hearing anything I say. The attorney then says, "can we meet somewhere in the middle?" Sounds reasonable to me. I throw out a number and the seller agrees. As the attorney is making the necessary adjustments, the listing agent continues to grumble and says, "that's too much!"
Is It Just Me?
Is it just me or was this listing agent out of line and do you think the seller should have disclosed the issue with the floors?
- If You Don't Ask, The Answer is Always No
- Can You Make Decisions For Your Client?
- What Are You Trying to Hide by Not Disclosing?
- Sellers, When in Doubt Disclose
- Why Have a Home Inspection?
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Inman News named Candy Miles-Crocker as one of the Top 25 Real Estate coaches in 2016. Candy, “The Real-Life Realtor”, coaches, mentors and trains new and experienced real estate agents to transform their business by mastering her proven systems for success. She is a firm believer in managing expectations and her goal is to elevate the perception of real estate agents among the general public through education so every client has an amazing real estate experience. Candy’s unique training methods have shown agents what it takes to be successful!
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