How best to handle repairs disclosed by an inspection prior to closing?

UPDATED: Aug 3, 2011

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How best to handle repairs disclosed by an inspection prior to closing?

My wife and I made an offer on a house. The offer was accepted. The house is in ME. During the inspection, the house was noted to have knob and tube wiring in much of the house. Our realtor tried to minimize the problem and said we could have it fixed after the closing. An electrician was consulted and her opinion was that the wiring needed to be replaced before continuation of the contracting process. I want to hold the seller accountable and have the wiring replaced (the job is extensive) before I proceed further with the purchase and sale agreement. My wife is suggesting that we write a clause in the contract that the seller would be responsible for replacing the wiring, allowing them a month to do so after the closing date.

Asked on August 3, 2011 Maine


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It may be too late for what you suggest. If you made an offer and the offer was accepted, that constitutes the formation of a contract or agreement; once a contract is formed, it takes the concurrence or agreement of both parties (i.e. you and the seller) to change it.

Typically, an inspection or repair clause must be written into the contract--like a financing contingency--at the offer stage; i.e., it must be part of the offer that you could walk away from the sale in the event of significant problems.

If you had such a clause, however, you may enforce it as long as you complied with any/all of its terms regarding timing, notice to the other party, etc. In that instance, you could, subject to the clause's specific requirements or langauge, walk out on the sale unless the seller agrees to the credit or repairs you are seeking.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If contingencies for your purchase of the property you want to buy have not been waived, you can get out of the contract and not lose any deposit. Such contingencies would be the loan approval contingency (if applicable) and home inspection contingency.

An electrician does not like the outdated knob and tube wiring at the home since it is presently not to code and could be a fire hazard. If you want to close escrow on the home, obtain a written estimate from the electrician for the cost of the knob and tube wiring.

When received, submit an addendum to the seller that he or she pay for the new wiring per the written estimate in order to close escrow. Your options would be that in the addendum the seller credit you the amount of the estimate for the new wiring in the purchase price of the home or that new approved wiring must be installed in the home as a condition to close escrow. This addendum will need to be signed by the seller, you and all real estate agents.

I suggest that the new wiring be installed before close of escrow as a condition for closing at seller's cost. That way you have what you want completed before legal title is tranferred to you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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