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For Sale by Owner Articles • - Home Selling Tips

Problems After The Sale

By Robert Irwin
One of the big concerns that many people selling "by owner" have is the potential for problems after the sale. What if the buyers come back and demand the sellers do some expensive corrective work? What if they demand damages for something you did and they didn't like? What if they want the sale rescinded (want you to take back the house)?!
These are all possible, after the sale consequences. Although they don't happen in most deals, they could. And fear of them can keep sellers from attempting to sell on their own.
It's important to understand that using an agent does not protect you from liability or guarantee that there will be no after-sale consequences. They can happen whether or not you use an agent. The presumption, however, is that before the sale closes, the agent will take precautionary steps to lessen the chance of something going wrong that will result in an after-sale issue. Of course, you can take the same precautions. The emphasis here is on prevention.
Here are a few possible after-sale issues and what might have been done to prevent them:
Buyer says the roof leaks and wants you to put on a new roof. Did you disclose to the buyer that the roof leaked? If it leaks, you should have. That would have gotten the issue out in the open to be dealt with before the deal closed. Did the roof start leaking for the first time right after the buyer bought the home (unlikely, but possible)? In that case, you may still need to pay for some repair work. Putting on a new roof, however, is dependent on the condition of the existing roof and is open to negotiation.
Buyer says there are no grounded electrical outlets in kitchen and baths and wants you to pay for their installation. You don't know much about things electrical and were unaware of this. Did you insist that the buyer have a professional home inspection? If so, most inspectors will check for this. If the inspector caught it, why didn't the buyer bring it up before approving the inspection? Once the buyers approve the inspection, the assumption is that they are willing to live with whatever problems it revealed. If the problem was not revealed by the inspection, perhaps the buyers should take it up with the inspector.
Buyers say you left the house a mess and want you to pay for repainting it. Did you offer the buyers a final walk through just before the deal closed? Did they approve the condition of the home when they saw it? If the condition hasn't changed, why are they complaining?
While these examples illustrate the reason for having disclosures, a professional inspection, and a final walk-through, it's important to understand that they do not prevent a buyer from complaining after the sale, or from taking you to court to try to get their way. These are just precautions that you, or an agent, can take to try to prevent an after-sale problem, and to give your side a better position if an issue is raised.
Some buyers are simply grouches and others never give up negotiating to get a better deal for themselves, even after the sale has concluded. If you're unlucky enough to get that kind of buyer, then about the only thing you can do is grin and bear it.
Robert Irwin is the most prolific real estate writer in America having produced over 100 published books in the field. His TIPS & TRAPS McGraw-Hill series has sold well over a million copies and his FOR SALE BY OWNER KIT and FIND IT, BUY IT, FIX IT and other books have been strong sellers for Dearborn.
In addition Irwin writes a regular real estate column for The Wall Street Journal online and is introducing a new weekly column
Irwin has sold his own property "by owner" and during over 30 years in the business has been a broker and consultant to lenders, agents, buyers and sellers.
He can be reached through his website

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