Vail Daily column: Don’t be a walk-through victim
We recently sold our home and almost had the whole deal blow up the day of closing over a detail I had never given a thought to. It just was so unpleasant on a day that should have been joyous for us and the buyer. The problem was over the “walk through” that the buyers did the morning before closing. We had just finished moving out the night before and felt we had cleaned the home well. The buyers and their agent came in and criticized everything, the quality of the cleaning, a tiny nail hole in the wall, and some spackle and painting we did. They said they would not sign the papers and close that afternoon if they were not given a monetary credit for the repairs or money was put in escrow until we ordered and paid for more cleaning and the “repairs.” Our agent was great helping us to get through this, but please tell us how we could have avoided this?
Dear “Walk-Through” Victims,
Paragraph 19.4 of the Colorado Real Estate Commission approved contract is painfully vague. “Walk-Through and Verification of Condition” states that “Buyer, upon reasonable notice, has the right to walk through the property prior to closing to verify that the physical condition of the property and inclusions complies with this contract.”
It says nothing about what to do if they think it is different than what they were expecting. I will give you my opinions as a Realtor and individual, but you would need to seek legal counsel to know exactly what to do. My opinion is that if the buyers wanted a professional clean of the whole house and appliances, then they should state it in the contract. The same goes for other minor repairs. If it is written in the offer, then the seller knows what is expected.
If the buyers are the type of people who always re-clean themselves and are going to repaint everything before they move in, then this should not be an issue. Could the buyers refuse to buy the house because of this? Once again, it is an attorney question. If they don’t close, most Colorado contracts are written so that if the buyer “defaults” and does not go through with the sale, then they are only subject to “liquidated damages.” This could mean that your sole remedy to them walking away could be keeping their earnest money.
Most buyers really don’t want the deal to “blow up” either. You are right, this is a miserable way to move out and into a new home. My advice is that we, as a broker community, work harder on being specific in the contracts. If our seller is worried about the time or expense of professional cleaning and minor repairs, we should note this in any counter proposal we write. I hope your question has made us all wiser about having a pleasant, joyous closing. Thank you.
Joan Harned is an owner-broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. She has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at Joan@TeamBlackBear.com, 970-337-7777 or http://www.SkiAndTeeHomes.com.