Buyer coming back after months demand for repair cost

26 Replies

Hello Bigger Pocket friends - I have an urgent question to ask. I sold a house couple of months ago. Buyer wanted some plumbing repairs done at the property and he send me an amendment for repairs. I had the repairs done and the buyer did a re-inspection and close the property. A month after the closing he send a text message and start complaining about plumbing issues again. I told him that you did the inspection before closing and now I am not responsible for any more work. He did not follow up after that. Now after couple months he send me an email and demand about 3800 worth of plumbing repairs and threatens me to sue. What are my options

Thanks

Tell him to have his lawyer contact your lawyer. If he is contacting you directly he is not serious. Assuming all conditions were waved at sale he has no grounds unless you knowingly hide the plumbing issues.

Let your lawyer handle it.

Originally posted by @Irfan Saeed :

Hello Bigger Pocket friends - I have an urgent question to ask. I sold a house couple of months ago. Buyer wanted some plumbing repairs done at the property and he send me an amendment for repairs. I had the repairs done and the buyer did a re-inspection and close the property. A month after the closing he send a text message and start complaining about plumbing issues again. I told him that you did the inspection before closing and now I am not responsible for any more work. He did not follow up after that. Now after couple months he send me an email and demand about 3800 worth of plumbing repairs and threatens me to sue. What are my options

Thanks

 I would send him a photocopy of the signed off agreement and say "here you go, let me know your atorney's phone number". I've had to do that a couple of times over the years and oddly they never follow up with an attorney's phone call. ;-)

He send me an amendment for the plumbing repair and I have that issue repaired.

He did his final walk through. Was I also suppose to have him signed off the final walkthrough after the repairs were done? 

We close the house on October 6th last year and he send me a text message on October 18th complaining about the plumbing issue. I told him that technically I am not responsible about any more issues but I will ask my plumber to come take a look as a courtesy. I gave him my plumber's number. He kept quite for couple of months and now 6 months he send me an email with the plumbing repair done on the property and a threat.

Tell him to kick rocks. It’s on him to handle his due diligence before closing.

ignore it.

If a subpoena comes, bring it to your lawyer.

It's not your fault or responsibility, things happen and he doesn't want to take his own responsibility. You can't teach him how behave like a responsible adult, so conversation here will be unproductive.

Just ignore it. Most all your liability is gone once everything is signed at closing. (It doesn’t sound like you willingly misled or fraudulently did anything.)

If he really thinks he has a case he’ll talk to a lawyer. Chances are, the lawyer will be more expensive than the $3800 he’s asking for.

Until you hear from a lawyer, no action is necessary.

My first step would be to have a quick talk with my lawyer. My second step would be to tell the buyer that there is nothing more you can do, and give him your lawyers contact information. From that point forward I wouldn't worry about it.

I had a similar issue on a flip. I bought with foundation damage. I hired a licensed/insured mason to do the work. All permits pulled, inspections done, work took place and went well. The new buyer moved in, and a month or two later the neighbor approaches to explain all the work I had done. The new owner sees a hairline crack where old and new concrete meet, and in his mind there are big issues. He had his realtor reach out to me, and I got them in touch with my mason. Long story short I get a phone call from my mason indicating the owner is likely suing him. The homeowner reached out to me via a text asking for a paper trail, however I informed him that there was nothing I can do to help him. Knock on wood I haven't heard anymore (I feel bad for my mason, I know he did the work right) but my attorney is aware and ready if anything ever comes of it.

I agree, some people need to accept being adults and dealing with house repairs, when owning a home. Unless there was deception to hide issues (doesn't sound like it) then it is part of being a homeowner to deal with home issues...

I wouldn't even respond because that's just inviting additional communication. 

If you did nothing wrong and abided by the contract, don't even bother replying. If he is serious about pursuing this then he will hire an attorney and you can defend your position.

If you were dishonest and knowingly hid a problem in order to take advantage of the buyer, then I recommend you do the right thing and help correct it before he comes after you and asks for more.

Originally posted by @Irfan Saeed :

 Was I also suppose to have him signed off the final walkthrough after the repairs were done? 

In my market (Baltimore) this is customary, but not a requirement.  The buyer accepts the home in as-is condition at settlement unless there is an explicit agreement to the contrary.  I second the recommendations on here to just ignore it and don't respond - you don't want to make any kind of commitments to him to have it looked at and then be held on the hook for that.

If he's serious he'll get his lawyer involved, but until that happens I'd just block the phone number.

I greatly appreciate all of the suggestions posted to my questions. This is the reason this community is so great. I have decided not to respond to his communications until he takes any further action. He mentioned in his email that we would wait for my response fro 3 days until he proceed to take any further actions. I will keep you guys posted. I would definitely need some further help from you guys if he decided to follow through.

@Irfan Saeed honestly the best advice is to have your attorney involved if he sends anything regarding lawsuit. As much as we could possibly help, the truth is once he is threatening lawsuit or suing, it should be off the Internet and handled by your attorney.

@Brian - Sue that is the plan. Once he move forward with the lawsuit I will be involving my attorney. I have not hired an attorney before. How would I go about hiring an attorney which does not break my back.

Honestly, I like to have a go to attorney when dealing in real estate, or really anything. If you don't have a go to, I would possibly begin interviewing possible attorneys, and plan to add one to your "team". In regards to breaking your back, I assume you mean cost? It's a conversation you can have with them as you interview.

@Brian Pulaski   in our markets that are not attorney closing states its simply not common to engage attornies in these issues..  this would be a small claims court issue.

We rarely if ever talk with attornies and I know you guys do for all your RE needs.

If he closed the transaction that shows that he was satisfied with the work. If he has proof that you duct taped a pipe for instance to stop it leaking.... Sure you could be liable. But all too often buyers just try to get what they can. We had an inspection response where a buyer wanted us to side down over the foundation in an area where it's not common. We kindly explained upgrades aren't inspections. 

@Jay Hinrichs this is true, I have always had an attorney for RE deals (and a title company, lucky us, we pay twice as much to close in that regard!). With that being said, I still think someone in REI should have an attorney they deal with. There will most likely be times when it is needed.

What exactly was the plumbing problem? Just playing devil's advocate. 

For example, I had a problem at one of my houses, where I constantly had clogged pipes. We snaked it and had a camera down there. Combination of tree roots and old cooking fat kept closing up the pipe. 

So, what if I had sold the house and the drain was slow and he required me to fix that problem and I agreed to clean it up and then snaked it before closing - would that absolve me from liability of the actual problem, which now required the old drain pipe to be replaced?

I'm not sure if my snaking it would be enough to say that the problem is fixed, when the actual source of the problem was still there.

Just wondering. 

The property is pier and beam

So here is the text message conversation about the plumbing issue :

House Closing Date : October 8th 2017

His message on October 18th :

"During the plumbing test we discovered that your plumber did not vent all of the areas we discussed on amendment the sewer line is full of water. I can have work done if you guarantee 100% reimbursement"

My response: "Plumber will come and I provided him plumber's number. Which of the vent is missing. I believe you checked everything after repair was done. Technically I am not responsible for any repairs anymore. But I will see I can get to bring him back to the property as a courtesy but u need to tell me what is missing"

His response :

"its plumbing line for half and full bath still bowing and the water cannot move easily. Your last plumber only fixed kitchen sink"

So I gave him the plumber's number and I did not hear back from him until March 27th, 2018 and sending me all kind of plumbing repairs including in his invoice.

Hm.....sounds to me as if those were issues that he did ask about and which weren't completely done, as agreed upon. Please correct me if I'm wrong. 

If that's the case, then I'd think you would be responsible, in my opinion, since you can't really expect the buyer to go into the crawlspace to inspect items like that. 

I'm not an attorney, so, take it for what it's worth

I understand your point that the buyer cannot crawl through the space. That's why buyer hire inspection services to complete their due diligence before closing. All I could do was to let the buyer know that the repair is done as per my plumber and than buyer's responsibility is to check everything after that and if they had found issues they could have extended or terminated the contract. He never contacted me that he was hiring a plumber to fix the issue. Even if I had to go back and fix the issue that would have cost me not more that 600$.

Did he not have an inspection? If he did and this subject came up and it was required for the sale that you'd fix it, then I think it's on you and you can't just say 'oh, well, the plumber was supposed to and didn't, so call the plumber."

You were the one that contracted the plumber and thus it should have been up to you to make sure he/she does it correctly and when found out that it wasn't done right, then you should have gotten back onto the plumber and made him correct it. 

Maybe I'm misreading the situation, but looks to me as if you dropped the ball. 

@Michaela G. sounds like Irfan's buyer asked for a repair based on an inspection, Irfan had the repair completed by a licensed (I hope) plumber, the buyer had the repair re-inspected and signed off on it by default by closing on the house. At that point I don't believe it's Irfan's responsibility anymore. She's not a licensed plumber or inspector, so if the contractor she hired said it was done, and the inspector said it was good, and the buyer closed; well that's about all you can do. 

@Irfan Saeed If I have the facts above correct, I think you're in the clear. No more communication with the buyer until/unless he sues, at which point either go to small claims or hire a lawyer to do it and counter sue for legal costs of a frivolous lawsuit. 

@Donald S.  

Well in this scenario the realtor is the buyer of the house as well. From the very start of the transaction he was very demanding and I fulfilled most of his requirement. After the inspection he send me a bill of 13000$ which was completely ridicules. I already offered him about 20K discount on the listing price as I want to sell the house fast due to my financial circumstances. The repair amendment boils down to 2500 discount on the property as buyer assistance and repair of some plumbing vents and electrical outlets.
After I completed his plumbing and electrical repairs on the property he did a final inspection of the property. He was pretty technical from the very start and understood all the repairs very well. Two weeks after the house was closed he texted me about the issue in one of the bath room vent and bowing of plumbing line (Foundation is pier and beam). Due to which the water was flowing slowly. I gave him my plumbers number and he never contacted me after that. I thought the issue has been resolved. Now after five months from the day of closing he comes after me and demand 3800$. The invoice include all kind of small things he had listed in his initial demand after the inspection.
He never consulted with me or asked me before having the repairs done at the property. If he had contacted me about the severity of the issue I would have definitely helped him out and fixed the problem by bringing back my plumber. it may have max cost me about 500 to 600$.

Why would he send you a $13,000 bill during the inspection period, unless I read that wrong?

If he is simply sending a bill and threatening action, he wouldn't receive a response from me, other than my lawyers contact information. 

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