Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Q: We just bought a piece of land and didn’t use an agent to do it.

We just paid the seller direct. We went to a contractor we know to start planning a house and he did some research for us. It turns out there isn’t what he calls an ingress/egress easement through a neighbor’s parcel to get to our property. We also didn’t realize that there is no water department there and we have to dig a well. We wouldn’t have bought the land if we’d known all of this. How do we get our money back?

A:  It would have been prudent of you to have examined the title to the property before you bought it to see if there was an access easement. It also would have been an easy matter to call the local water purveyor to see if they have water shares available and their cost. This is where working with a Realtor would have helped.
I’m not an attorney, and you might want to talk to one, but I don’t see that you have a way to get your money back unless your seller is willing to do you a big favor. If he didn’t point out the flaws in this property he probably will not feel “honor bound” to buy the place back just to be nice. You could try to sue him, of course, but that’s an expensive venture and might not work out for you.
When buying raw land, it’s very important that you identify the water source as well as its cost and get a fully approved septic design done for the property. You also need to review the title to be sure that you have legal access and that there are no encumbrances. All this should happen before you close on the sale. It’s really up to the buyer to do this. I wish I could say something helpful, but the fact is that there’s not much you can do now except negotiate an easement with your neighbor, start the septic design process and hope it all goes well.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Q: We have an offer on our home but the buyer wants us to re-caulk most of the outside of the house!

We just don’t see the point.  There have been no leaks.  They also got all crazy about caulking the bathrooms.  What is the big deal?  We have lived here for years and had no problems with leaking. 

A:  Most homeowners don’t seem to realize that caulking is not a forever thing.  Especially if you’re siding is LP or other composite materials, particularly if it’s over 20 years old, it can swell and start to delaminate.  This is also common when you have upgraded your windows and the installer doesn’t properly caulk around the windows.  That can allow moisture to enter the house and sometimes rot out window sills and siding.  All homes should be checked periodically for dry and crumbling caulking. 
   That’s also true of bathrooms and kitchens.  All sinks or tubs in the house should be re-caulked from time to time.  If you see the caulking pulling away from the tub or sink it is no longer sealing the floor against water intrusion.  I’ve seen many totally rotted out bathroom floors because the owners never re-did the caulking and water has been going under the floor covering and rotting the subfloor.
   Caulking is not hard to do.  You can actually do this yourself.  Some products are even available in large toothpaste looking tubes that can be used indoors to seal around tubs and sinks.  Be sure and dig out any loose or crumbling old caulk before you start. As for the siding, this can be done by a home owner but is a bit more difficult.  You can find many handypersons and contractors who can do this work. 
      I know that no one wants to do this boring but necessary maintenance.  But please understand that most of us in the real estate business have seen far too much major damage to homes because of the simple reason that the caulking failed.   As for your sale, discuss all the options with your Realtor.