The Process of Home Buying and Selling - Part 3

In this series of articles, we have covered the general overview of a real estate transaction and the obligations specific to a real estate seller. Whereas my overarching advice for sellers is to “disclose everything,” my advice for buyer’s is twofold. First, GET IT IN WRITING and secondly, READ YOUR DOCUMENTS. Generally, the purchase of a piece of real estate is either the biggest or one of the biggest transactions a person enters, regardless wealth or economic status. Often, when people call our office and we ask them whether they have read their contract documents, they tell us they have not or, if they have, they don’t understand what they say.

When a person buys a home, they might be inside two, maybe three times, before the house is theirs. If you are represented by an agent, you should feel free to ask them questions if you have concerns or don’t understand something and have them explain it to you until you are satisfied that you do understand. That is literally their job and there is nothing that prevents a buyer or buyer’s agent from asking questions or requesting more information from the seller. When we work with buyers, we advise them to get copies of current utility bills, maintenance bills, survey documents and prior disclosure statements from the seller so that they have as much information about the property as possible. The seller is not necessarily obligated to provide you with a copy of every document, but more often than not, the seller and their agent wants the buyer to be comfortable and well informed during the transaction. Additionally, if you have questions, we recommend that you document your question and the response in writing so that all the parties have a record of the conversation and agreement in the event that there is a future discrepancy.


In one of my prior home sales, I had a buyer who specifically requested that the drapery in certain rooms would be included with the sale of the house (note that the disclosure form and sales agreement specified that no window treatments were included.) On the day of closing, during the final walk through one hour before closing, the buyer was upset that some curtains were removed. She believed that she had requested them and I, being eight months pregnant, couldn’t remember anything, and had already given them away. Luckily, we had an email string and an amendment signed by both of us and while she was not happy, I didn’t have to scramble to replace curtains or risk delaying a closing over what I considered to be a trivial matter (but where my buyer was apparently very attached to these curtains.)


The other mistake I often see buyers make, and which account for a fair number of calls to my office each year, are items that a buyer believes either the seller failed to disclose, or their inspector missed, and they want to sue the seller or inspector for damages to replace or repair the item. Often the item was in fact inspected by their home inspector making the buyer’s ability to recover damages much more difficult, but the buyer didn’t realize it because they never read their inspection report. Paying a home inspector is expensive; it is always a good idea to submit a list of specific items or concerns to the inspector prior to the inspection and ask that they address those concerns. Additionally, you are always free to attend the inspection (outside of the presence of the seller) and discuss the inspector’s observations in real time. Lastly, and most importantly, read the inspector’s report. Yes, they are often long and boring, but once again it is important to READ EVERYTHING.


Nichole Humes, Esq.




0 comments