Buying a House “As Is”
Q: We recently sold our house to a buyer “AS IS“. We were only on the market for about a week, and had 3 offers. All were over the asking price, and we accepted the highest one. We did counter the buyer back insisting the offer be “AS IS”, and they accepted. Now the buyer had done their inspections, and they are coming back and asking for some repairs. Can they do that? We are not happy about this, and want to cancel the deal. What should we do?
A: There is a lot of confusion about “AS IS” contracts. While every seller wants to sell their house “AS IS”, meaning they don’t have to pay for any repairs, the contractual process can be a bit tricky. The basic Purchase Agreement (CAR version, which is almost always used) is essentially an “AS IS” contract in that the seller is not obligated to do any repairs to the property, other than making sure it has smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and water heater strapping. Otherwise, the seller is under no obligation to complete any repairs, and is perfectly within their rights to refuse to do any. However, the contract also provides the buyer the opportunity to inspect the property, and request any repairs they would like to seller to undertake. The buyer does have the right to cancel if there is no satisfactory resolution of the repair issue in most cases.
Most of the time there are two negotiations in a home sale: The original price, and then any repair items. So yes, the buyer has the right to request repairs, even if it is an “AS IS” sale, and no you do not have to agree. However, you need to consider what the outcome is if you do indeed refuse to do any repairs, and the as is buyer cancels the contract. Are there other buyers who will pay the same or even a higher price? Are you sure? I have seen this situation unfold many times throughout the years, and sometimes sellers end up at a lower price with the new buyer (and even having to do the repairs you were refusing to do with the first buyer). So as with any negotiation, be sure you understand what the other possible outcomes are if you decide to hard line the buyer on repairs.
If you as a seller truly want an “AS IS” sale where you don’t have to do any repairs, it is best to get all inspections completed before you go on the market, and provide all disclosure documents to the buyer prior to the buyer writing an offer. In that scenario, the buyer has the opportunity to investigate and understand what they are buying beforehand, and can be more confident if they write an “AS IS” offer. If you do not have any inspections completed before you go on the market, then there are certainly issues that may arise out of the inspections that the buyer, and perhaps even you, are not aware of. In this case, it would be hard to fault the buyer for requesting the repair. Again, what your stance is with regards to requested repairs will depend a lot on what your other options are with other potential buyers.
Canceling a Purchase During Escrow
Q: Doug I am currently in escrow on a home. The seller has provided the disclosures prior to our making an offer, and we have removed all contingencies. A week before closing, the seller informed us that the family room addition was done without permits. This is very upsetting to us because we already removed our contingencies, and were under the impression the addition was done legally. We don’t feel comfortable buying a home that was expanded without permits. Can we cancel the purchase? Jim in Pleasanton
A: Jim that is a great question. Real Estate law dictates that the seller disclose all material facts about the property. In the event the seller discloses a material fact after the contract is ratified, it generally triggers an automatic 3 day right of recession for the buyer, even if the seller offers to remedy it. So if in fact the seller makes a new disclosure, you as a buyer are generally within your rights to cancel the agreement as a result. This is why it is so important for sellers to provide complete and accurate disclosures as soon in the process as possible, preferably before a buyer makes an offer. As always, you should seek legal advice about your specific situation, as every situation is different. Good luck!
Buying a home can be daunting, but only if you let it. Getting your dream home is an exciting time in your life, but you have to be careful with your decisions to make sure that you do not sabotage your home purchase.
If you have already been pre-approved for a mortgage and have started your search for homes for sale in Pleasanton CA with an agent, then you are off to a good start. You have to be careful though, many home buyers tend to fail along the way by doing things they’re not supposed to do before, during or after the home buying process.
If you don’t want to sabotage your home buying experience, take note of the following things you shouldn’t do:
MISTAKE # 1: Assume that Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage is Valid Forever
Never assume that once you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, it’s valid forever. Getting pre-approved involves a lot of complexities, and the reality is that not all lenders will take the time to explain these things to you. To determine if you can get a mortgage and how much you can borrow, they will need to verify your job, income, credit score and debt-to-income ratio numerous times throughout the process, up to the day you close on a home. This means you can’t open new credit lines, use your credit card, and have late payments until the deal has been finally sealed.
MISTAKE # 2: Assume that the Home of Your Dreams Will Wait for You
When your dream home hits the market, expect many other prospective home buyers to flock to it. If you think your dream home will wait for you, then you are wrong. Don’t expect it to be for sale next month or by the time you are no longer too lazy to get started with the home buying process. If you already have the means to buy it, go get it before someone else does.
MISTAKE # 3: Make a Lowball Offer
Always keep in mind that you are not the only buyer who wants to own your dream home. You have a ton of competition who will go the extra mile just to get the same property. Because of that, you shouldn’t settle for making a lowball offer. If you do that, you might lose your dream home to someone who is willing to pay more for the property.
MISTAKE # 4: Ask for Too Much From the Home Seller
While it is possible for the seller to prefer the buyer who is willing to pay more for the property, don’t assume that writing a full-price offer will already guarantee your success. Remember that there might be somebody out there competing for the same house. While his offer is a bit lower than yours, the seller might see him as the better buyer just because he’s ready to close within 60 days and you’re not, or because he doesn’t have as many demands as you do.
MISTAKE # 5: Skip the Home Inspection
Don’t think that organizing a home inspection before you move in won’t do you any good. Every home has issues, so it helps to get an inspector to check all the code violations of the house and recommend repairs. Once you buy a home, you are already the owner of that home so you can’t expect the previous homeowner to take on the job of paying for all the needed repairs.
MISTAKE # 6: Search for More Homes Shortly After Becoming a Homeowner
Some home buyers tend to have premature buyer’s remorse shortly after they have already settled everything with the seller. This is a big no-no. If you are just weeks away from becoming a homeowner, stop shopping for homes and daydreaming about the “what-ifs” when a home that seems to be better than the one you’re buying suddenly appears on the market. If you don’t want to start all over again with the stressful home buying journey, just focus on your new home and what you can do to improve it.
If you are looking for Pleasanton CA homes for sale, call Doug Buenz at (925)-621-0680. He is your top real estate agent in Pleasanton CA and he will help you achieve your dream of becoming a homeowner in Pleasanton CA.
Q: We recently bought our first home. We were so excited! But when we got the keys, we discovered the property was dirty and in disarray. It was not professionally cleaned, the carpeting was dirty, and there were nail holes in the wall that were not patched. What is our recourse? Sandy in Dublin
A: Sandy that is a great question. There are lots of misconceptions about what the obligation is for sellers when they turn over possession. Often the seller’s contractual obligation does not match the buyer’s expectations. The contract, in fact, is intentionally vague with respect to the condition at close. It merely stipulates that the property to be maintained in substantially the same condition as of the date of acceptance, and that all furniture and personal property to be removed by close of escrow. There is no standard language that requires the property be professionally cleaned, or the carpets cleaned, or nail holes patched.
Most of the time good sense prevails, as most sellers want to turn over the property in neat and clean condition, and will often have the house cleaned and sometimes even have the carpets cleaned, and nail holes patched & painted. But they are not contractually obligated to do so. Indeed, it is very hard to prove that the seller DID NOT live up to the minimal contractual obligation that the property be maintained in the present condition as of the date of acceptance, unless there is damage to the property or issues that were not disclosed (such as a hole in the carpet or damage to flooring hidden by a couch or area rug).
If you are concerned about it you can add language to the contract that the seller have the property professionally cleaned at move out, or have the carpet cleaned, or patch all nail holes. Otherwise, it might be best to arrange for your own cleaners to clean the house and carpeting before you move in, and your own painter/handyman to patch any nail holes.
Q: Doug, we just sold our home recently in Pleasanton. We did everything right – we got pre-sale inspections, filled out all of our disclosures, and provided potential buyers with all of the information they need to write an offer. We accepted an all cash offer with no contingencies, but the next day the buyer cancelled the sale before they put their deposit into escrow. Can they do that? Melinda in Pleasanton
A: Melinda I’m sure that was unwelcome news. Very disappointing to be sure. Can they cancel the contract? Sure. The better question is what remedies do you have as a seller. Unfortunately, since they did not put the good faith deposit into escrow, there are no funds to secure the offer. IF their deposit was in escrow, you would be in a stronger position, and may have been able to make a claim or negotiate for part or all of the buyer’s deposit, depending on the circumstances. But since there is no deposit, you have limited practical options to enforce the contract. You may be able to take action against them on the basis of bad faith, but it would likely be expensive and a fairly long process. It is likely not practical for most sellers who want to get on with getting their home sold.
In general the only remedy a buyer has to cancel a contract after they have removed all contingencies (or likewise make an offer with no contingencies) is if there is an additional disclosure of a material fact, in which case the buyer may be entitled to a 3 day right of recision. For example, if someone passes away in the house while you are in escrow, or if there is a defect not previously disclosed that surfaces after you are under contract, then the buyer likely has the legal right to cancel the agreement, even if they have removed all contingencies. DISCLAIMER: You should ALWAYS consult an attorney for any legal issue, as they are qualified to give legal advice on your specific situation. Good luck!
Q: We are putting our house on the market in a couple of weeks. We have heard from a couple of people that we should get inspections on our home before we put it on the market. Is this smart? I thought buyers paid for inspections? Jason in Pleasanton
A: Jason that is a great question! Traditionally, buyers have been responsible for paying for any inspections they require. The only exception is in Contra Costa County, where the standard procedure was for sellers to pay for a termite inspection. However, in recent years there has been more of a shift to having sellers pay for and obtain inspections prior to going on the market. While it does cost the seller anywhere from $800 – $1500, there are several compelling reasons why this is a good idea:
- It gives the seller more certainty by identifying potential issues with the property before going on the market.
- It avoids the “second negotiation” where the buyer, after paying for inspections after the contract is negotiated, comes back to renegotiate armed with inspection reports that show issues with the property
- It typically shortens the inspection contingency, as buyers are more likely to accept the existing reports, thereby cutting down on the time they need to complete their due dilligence
- It reduces the chance the transaction will cancel because all issues are disclosed upfront. thus eliminating unpleasant surprises that could derail the purchase
- It gives the buyer a higher level of comfort, which usually leads to a smoother, more amicable transaction
Can the buyer still get their own inspections? Of course. In fact, in my opinion sellers should avoid mandating that the buyer accept their inspections. If the buyer wants to spend the money on their own inspections let them. It is highly unlikely they will uncover any significant issues not covered in the original inspections. One caveat however… make sure you choose inspection companies that are well known and well regarded in the area. Presenting a home inspection from Bill’s Bait Shop and Home Inspection Company will not instill a lot of confidence in the buyer. Talk to your agent to see who he or she recommends. Good Luck with your sale!
It’s FAIR SEASON and we love a good fair! We should considering our backyard is host to one of the top county fairs in the country. But you don’t have to settle for local just to get some good things “on-a-stick”.
Here is the top 5 Fairs to think about visiting if you are loading the family up in the family truckster for a roadie this summer!
Alameda County Fair
Pleasanton may be a burgeoning suburban city these days, but the area’s ranching roots surface during fair time. For the third year, a cattle drive – yes, steers on Main Street! – will kick off the festivities. Throughout the event’s June 15-July 8 run (18 days over four weekends), nighttime concerts will supplement the traditional fair fun. And the racetrack will host three libation-filled events: one with microbrews, one with wines, one with cocktails. Details: http://annual.alamedacountyfair.com.
Humboldt County Fair
Who says a trip to the fair has to be a sweltering affair? Consider this one in Ferndale, where the average temperature in August ranges from 58 to 71 degrees. Ahhhhh. The event bills itself as the “oldest uninterrupted county fair” in California, with plenty of old-fashioned exhibits. At the 122nd annual event, Aug. 15-26, live horse-racing is expected to be the big draw, with seven days of “Racing in the Redwoods” scheduled. Details: humboldtcountyfair.org.
Los Angeles County Fair
There’s big and then there’s really big — bigger-than-state-fair big. While the state fest brings 511,000 fairgoers to the 350-acre Cal Expo grounds, L.A. draws about 1.3 million to its 487 acres of festival hoopla, which includes bacon-wrapped everything, of course, as well as hot bands, racy rides, a steampunk circus, fire-eaters, exotic animals and special exhibits, such as this summer’s 20 immersive exhibits celebrating the iconic Route 66. Last year, it was the GRAMMY Museum’s Taylor Swift Experience. The fair runs Aug. 31-Sept. 23. Details: www.lacountyfair.com
Orange County Fair
At a rip-roaring 23 days, this enormous fair packs a punch, from its Budweiser Clydesdales and Alaskan pig races to its unicorn nitro pop — a liquid nitrogen-frozen combo of kettle corn and whipped cream — and extreme pogo-stick events. Plus: A gigantic Ferris wheel, with 500,000 LED lights and 36 air-conditioned cabins, which will move on to the L.A. fair after the OC’s fair, which runs July 13 to Aug. 12. Details: https://ocfair.com/
Santa Cruz County Fair
To get to the fairgrounds in Watsonville, you have to drive along roads that go through many, many acres of crops – a good reminder of the county fair’s agricultural roots. It’s a relatively small fair, which is perfect if you have small fry. Besides the obligatory animal and produce barns, carnival rides and pig races, there’s a shaded Kiddie Korral where your kids can run off some of their energy. The event runs Sept. 12-18 this year. Details: www.santacruzcountyfair.com.
Canceling a Counter Offer
Q: Hi Doug. We recently submitted an offer on a San Ramon home for sale. We have bought and sold several homes, so we are not beginners. We absolutely loved this house, and we were delighted to get a counter offer from the seller. The counter offer expired the following day at 5:00 PM. We had to check on a couple of things with our lender before signing it, but we definitely planned on signing it by the 5:00 PM deadline. At about 3:00, we got word from our agent that the counter offer was cancelled. That seems really unfair! Needless to say we were devastated that the seller did not let us respond first. Can the seller do that? Amy in San Ramon
A: Thanks for the question Amy. I can certainly understand how upsetting it is to you, and how unfair it must seem. The short answer to your question is yes, the seller has the legal right to cancel (rescind) their counter offer before it is signed. It may seem unfair, but the seller has the legal right to do that. Usually it is because the seller received a better offer, and no longer felt the terms on the counter offer they sent you were good enough. I know it is disappointing, but the law is the law. In general, the seller is perfectly entitled to act in their best interest, and as long as the buyer had not yet signed the counter offer, they can rescind it.
The same goes for the buyer by the way. The buyer is free to withdraw their offer any time before the seller signs it. My best advice is when you get a counter offer that is acceptable, sign it. A lot of things happen if you wait, and many of them are bad. In a hot market like we are experiencing, things move fast, so be sure you are geared up for the pace of the market. As always, be sure to check with your attorney for legal advice. Happy hunting!
Should I Accept a Contingent Offer On My House?
Q: We have received a contingent offer on our home. What are the pros & cons of accepting a contingent offer? We have been on the market now for a couple weeks with no offers. Sarah in San Ramon
A: Great question Sarah. Contingent offers have not been too common in the strong seller’s market we have been in. Generally we see more contingent offers (contingent on the sale of a home) when the market is more balanced, or in a buyer’s market. But in the right situation they can be worth pursuing. As usual, there are pros and cons to a seller accepting a contingent offer.
Reasons to consider a contingent offer include:
Price. Contingent buyers are usually willing to pay a good price for the property, often more than a non-contingent buyer. And that is only fair, as they in effect are compensating the seller for taking the risk of their home selling.
Timing. If you as a seller have lots of time, or don’t want to be forced to move quickly, a contingent offer can sometimes be a better choice than demanding non-contingent buyers who may not want to work with your schedule
Ease of Sale. If the buyer’s home is easier to sell than your home, then a contingent offer can make sense. For example, if you are selling a home that has a very narrow market with a limited buyer pool, and the buyer makes an offer subject to selling their home in Palo Alto, it can make a lot of sense to consider it, as the buyer’s home will likely sell in about 8 hours, and your home may take months to sell
Reasons to be wary of a contingent offer include:
Locking out Non-Contingent Buyers. If you accept a contingent offer, you are possibly losing out on other non-contingent buyers. One way around this is to include a release clause that gives you the seller the right to accept a non-contingent offer and cancel the contingent offer after a certain period of time (usually 2 days). Even if you continue to market the property as a contingent sale where you can accept a non-contingent offer, the showing activity drops as buyers typically do not want to pursue a home they may not be able to secure.
Lack of Control. A contingent offer is essentially an option to buy your home, as it is up to the buyer to decide if they want to accept an offer on their home. Or the buyer may decide they want to ask a price above what the property is worth. Very important to review carefully the pricing strategy of the buyer on their home before you agree to tie up your home
Added Complications. As a seller, not only do you have to get through your own contingency period, but your sale is also subject to the buyer of the buyer’s home getting through their contingencies. In effect, you are often adding twice the contingencies, and increasing the odds of something derailing your sale
Uncertainty. If you accept a contingent offer, you will be adding uncertainty to the transaction. It becomes difficult to make firm plans around moving, as you need all contingencies removed before you can safely commit to moving. Even then, you may not want to physically move until your transaction closes in the event there are any last minute hiccups.
Contingent offers are not to be automatically dismissed, nor should they always be embraced. As is often the case with real estate, it depends on the situation.
Memorial Day is next Monday! As an important symbol of our country, everybody should understand the significance of flying the flag. On Memorial Day fly the flag at half-mast, a position reserved for when the country is in mourning, until noon, before raising it to full mast for the remainder of the Day.
Here is the full list of the proper way to fly the American Flag:
- The custom is to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on flagstaffs in the open, but it may be displayed at night upon special occasions to produce a patriotic effect.
- When the flag is hung vertically on a wall, window, or door, the Union (blue section) should be to the observer’s left. When the flag is hung either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the Union should be to the observer’s left.
- The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement.
- The flag should be displayed at every public institution and in or near every polling place on election days, and at schoolhouses during school days.
- In a procession, the American flag should be to the right of any other flag or, if in a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
- The flag should not be displayed on a float except from a staff, nor draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle.
- When the flag is displayed on a vehicle, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis.
- No other flag should be placed above the American flag or, if they are to be placed on the same level, to the right of the American flag.
- The United Nations flag may not be displayed above or in a position of superior prominence to the United States flag except at United Nations Headquarters.
- The flag, when displayed with another against a wall—both from crossed staffs—should be on the right (the flag’s own right), and its staff should be in front of the other staff.
- The American flag should be at the center and the highest point when displayed with a group of state flags.
- When flags of states, cities, etc., are flown on the same halyard, the American flag should be at the peak.
- When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height, and the American flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.
- When displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff.
- When the flag is displayed otherwise than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out; or so suspended that its folds fall as freely as though the flag were staffed.
- When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
- On a platform, the flag should be above and behind the speaker, with the union uppermost and to the observer’s left.
- When displayed from a staff in a church or auditorium, the flag should occupy the position of honor and be placed at the speaker’s right as he faces the audience.
- When flown at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff position. It should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. Half-staff is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag must be flown at half-staff on all buildings on the death of any officer listed below, for the period indicated:
- For the President or a former President:30 days from the date of death.
- For the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives:10 days from the day of death.
- For an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former Vice President, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives:From the day of death until interment.
- For a United States Senator, Representative, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico:the flag should be flown in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia, on the day of death and on the following day; in the state, congressional district, territory, or commonwealth of such Senator, Representative, Delegate, or Commissioner, from the day of death until interment.
- For a Governor:Within the state, territory, or possession, from the day of death until interment.
- When the flag is used to cover a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.