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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    2

    Default Seller Did Not Disclose Damage or Repair Details

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: North Carolina

    Purchased a home and closing was May 20, 2013. Did a walk through with my agent on the morning of closing. We discovered a significant amount of water damage to the wood laminate floor in the kitchen. This was in front of the dishwasher and around to the end of the island. Home was inspected two weeks before closing and the floor was not in this condition. I was very upset as this was such a surprise to walk in and find. I should have been notified of the damage. My agent immediately contacted seller's agent and was informed that there was a dishwasher leak but the seller had already ordered replacement laminate and arranged for a repair person to install. We went on to closing.

    After I started my part of the closing process, the seller and her agent arrived. She gave me a check made out to the repair person for installation along with his contact information. She also gave me a copy of the order for laminate flooring. (Note - the flooring was ordered 10 days before closing which means there was plenty of time to contact us about the damage.) She went on to tell me that they had to special order the floor because Home Depot no longer carried it in stock but it should be arrive in a couple of days. She would pick up at the store and deliver it to me. I was satisfied and continued with the closing.

    The floor arrived and I contacted the repair person. This is when the bomb was dropped. He asked me if I knew the floor was not a match and did I really want the floor installed. I was never told that the floor was not a match but the seller was aware. The color of the replacement floor is a little darker than the existing floor but the biggest difference is in the # of wood strips in one plank. The existing floor has four skinny "wood strips" while the replacement floor has three wider "wood strips". If this is installed not only will the pattern of the floor be off but the color will be different as well. I was furious that this was not disclosed by the seller.

    Immediately contacted my agent, who in turned contacted the seller's agent. She explained first that Home Depot must have ordered the wrong laminate. When my agent asked her how the repair person knew the floor would not match, the story changed to the seller found the closest match that she could.

    I have three options

    * Have the floor installed that will not match and live with it - which is NOT an option in my opinion since this is not the condition when I put the contract on the house
    OR
    * Replace the floor at my expense - The kitchen and living area are all open and the same flooring is in the living area as well.
    OR
    * Take the seller to Small Claims Court since the amount is less than $5000 but not sure I have a strong case. I, of course, think I do.

    Just not sure what to do or if I even have a case. I have tried to contact the closing attorney this week but it's the end of the month and I was told they were busy.
    Seller refuses to do anything other than what she offered at closing.

    So frustrated. Any thoughts or input would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    17,153

    Default Re: Seller Did Not Disclose Damage or Repair Details

    You blew it.

    You should have just refused to close.

    You would have had plenty of leverage then and everybody would have jumped through hoops to get the house to your satisfaction TO GET THEIR MONEY.

    Now that they have their money, you are pretty much stuck with the terms YOU ACCEPTED at closing.

    The seller won't do anything. He's got his money.
    The realtors won't do anything. They've got their money.
    The closing lawyer won't do anything. He's got his money.

    You are welcome to take this to small claims court but I'm predicting you will lose because YOU ACCEPTED the terms at closing.

    If you want matching floors you pay the difference and learn a healthy life lesson from the school of hard knocks.

    Next time you buy a house and something turns up wrong at the final walkthrough inspection, DON'T CLOSE.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Seller Did Not Disclose Damage or Repair Details

    It is possible that you will lose in small claims, based upon your closing documents and acceptance of the contractor's future work as satisfaction of the problem. Whether your contract precludes a claim, and whether it might be possible to get around the terms of the contract through an allegation of fraud, could depend upon exactly what the terms of your contract were, exactly what representations were made in relation to the repair, and whether those representations were made in writing. If "the closing attorney" was your lawyer, then you should discuss this case with your lawyer before proceeding.

    It may be possible to build a fraud case based upon the seller's knowledge that they could not match the flooring, and representations to you that implied that the flooring would match and which seem designed to trick you into agreeing to close before the repairs were performed. After all, if I don't care if the patch matches the rest of the floor, I can buy pretty much anything from the same product line - I don't have to special-order mismatched material.

    I don't know your floor layout, but it may be possible to complete a less expensive repair by creating a transition point between the kitchen and dining area floors. With laminate, that's almost certainly going to involve having some sort of threshold between the two areas which, even if low, will be a little bump in the floor - I am not proposing this because I think it is a solution that will make you happy, just as something to consider.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,624

    Default Re: Seller Did Not Disclose Damage or Repair Details

    I really thought that I had replied to this before, but you also need to take into consideration the fact that wood laminate flooring is always going to be a possible problem in an area where there is plumbing. You are likely to have this problem some time again during your ownership of the house. Therefore you might want to consider the kitchen having a different type of flooring, that would be complimentary to the rest of the area, but less likely to be damaged by water.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Seller Did Not Disclose Damage or Repair Details

    Obviously I know that I blew it and should have refused to close. Had I known the floor was not going to match I would not have. Hind sight is always 20/20 and this was my first home purchase. I have since discovered that there have been two other water leaks in the home that seller had repaired but there is absolutely NOTHING on the Disclosure Statement in the sales contract. The floor damage nor plan for repair was documented in the closing documents. This was deceitful and I was advised by another attorney that the sales contract could be considered voidable since the disclosures were knowingly omitted.

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