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Keys at Closing

Dear Phyllis,
My son just closed escrow on a home in Valley Village. The seller had passed away, so the trustee was responsible for everything. Although the market has cooled, my son paid $12,000 over the asking price. It was an “as is” sale, and there were numerous issues with this nearly 100-year-old home. When the sale was complete, and he was given the keys, he wasn’t provided the key for the gate control mechanism or the mailbox. He informed his real estate agent, who contacted the seller’s agent. Long story short, my son had to pay for a locksmith to rekey. The seller’s agent told my son’s agent that the trustee said they couldn’t give something they didn’t have and refused to pay for the locksmith. Do you think his agent should have better protected him? Jo

Dear Jo,
I certainly understand your frustration, but your son’s Realtor is not to blame. It seems odd that the trustee would not have at least the mailbox key and. if they didn’t, it should have been disclosed to your son. The purchase contract clearly states:
“Seller shall, on Close Of Escrow unless Otherwise Agreed and even if Seller remains in possession, provide keys, passwords, codes, and/or means to operate all locks, mailboxes, garage door openers, security systems, alarms, home automation systems, intranet, and Internet-connected devices are included in the purchase price.”

As you can see, according to the terms of the contract, all keys, including the mailbox, were to be turned over to your son unless there was a different agreement.

I suggest your son’s Realtor send a written request for reimbursement to the trustee in the care of their real estate agent. Copy the agent’s manager and have your son follow up with a call to the manager about a week after sending. However, the missing keys are not the responsibility of either the Realtors or their brokerages. Your son could likely force the issue with a small claims action, but I don’t know that being reimbursed several hundred dollars is worth your son’s time in court.

Best of luck to him in his new home.