Questions About Today’s Real Estate? Ask Phyllis!

Buyer Taking Possession

Dear Phyllis,
I find your real estate questions and answers so interesting, thank you! After a year, my daughter and her husband finally had an offer accepted and closed escrow. They had a quick escrow of just 30 days. The owner had moved out before the house was put on the market, but her daughter remained for the sale. Although she had a week to move after closing, they were concerned that she hadn’t begun to pack at the time of their inspection. Things were in disarray when they did their final inspection just before closing, so they felt more confident of her getting out on time. Apparently, she didn’t hire professional movers, and when moving the washer and dryer, the shut-off valves broke. So, her “movers” turned off the water in the house. After waiting a week for possession, my daughter didn’t have water to begin cleaning the home. The seller’s plumber couldn’t get there until after the weekend. When the plumber came on Monday, he told her that the water was turned off without unplugging the recirculating pump, and the water heater needed to be replaced. So, it took another two days to install the new water heater. Fortunately, my daughter’s real estate agent had the seller leave $5,000 in escrow as a security deposit. My daughter used $500 for patching, repairs and painting. I think my daughter should keep the entire deposit. What are your thoughts? Amber

Dear Amber,
As a loyal reader, you understand that I am a real estate agent, not an attorney, so I can only tell you what I think is “fair.” As your daughter was without water for four days, I think it’s “fair” that the seller reimburses her for her daily PITI (principal and interest, taxes and insurance). I understand that your daughter did not want to move into the home before it was cleaned. In addition, I believe it’s “fair” that the seller pays for the patching repair.
I have never encountered this scenario in 30 years of selling real estate. It’s interesting that saving money by not hiring moving professionals cost the seller more in the long run than if they had hired professional movers. Fortunately, your daughter’s agent negotiated the deposit, which saved your daughter a lot of hassle.