Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Q: My wife and I are really devastated that we were told so little when we bought our property.

It was just a beautiful parcel and we could imagine ourselves living there in a little house.  We decided to hire an architect to finalize our house plans and that’s when we found out that we had to go through getting a septic design, which requires a critical area report, and that it could take months and many thousands of dollars to drill a well. After getting quotes for all of this it’s clear that we can’t afford to build at all.  Why didn’t our real estate agent tell us all of this?

A:  First, you must understand that your real estate contract, the purchase and sales agreement, clearly states that it is your duty to investigate everything about the property before you close on the sale, (paragraph v., page 5).  That would include meeting with septic designers, well drillers, engineers, County permit technicians, and contractors, etc.  You should have read that more carefully. 

You should also be aware that although I, and some other real estate brokers, will walk folks through all of that, there is no legal obligation for us to do that.  In fact, our industry attorneys tell us not to do that research for people.  If we are sued, we would be held to the standard of the professionals who do that work.  I am not an attorney, an engineer, a well driller, etc. so I can only advise based on my years of experience.

I see that you also bought your property from a real estate broker who doesn’t live or work on Vashon.  They may have done a great job selling your Seattle home, but they probably have no experience with selling raw land or with the process of getting through King County’s regulations and requirements.  I’m so sorry that you have had such a bad experience.  Perhaps you can sell the land and start over with an existing home here or a parcel of property that is easier and cheaper to develop.