In February, 2012, we enlisted a real estate broker in Palm Springs, CA area
to represent us as potential buyers of a single family home. One criterion we
insisted upon frequently was the home must be connected to the city sewer.
We viewed dozens of homes and read a slew of listings on listingbook.com
On March 23, we made an offer on a home with a "short sale" listing, which
stated "sewer in street, on bond'. We relied on our broker's explaination that
"on bond" meant that the sewer charges would be included in the property tax
We reached agreement with the seller and his bank and opened escrow in mid-
May. We hired a home inspector and a VA appraiser; neither reported that the
home had a septic tank. Our broker inspected the home twice. His reports did
not mention a sewer or a septic system. We moved in on June 30 and on July 2,
we went to the local water district office to apply for transfer of water and sewer
utilities (we thought!) into our name. No one at the office said anything that gave
us a clue that the place was NOT connected to the city sewer.
On October 18, the bathroom drains backed up. While cleaning up the mess and
flushing the drain pipes with water, we saw and smelled dirty water bubbling up
in the front yard. While digging to find the leak, we discovered what looked like
a plastic "manhole" cover. We reviewed the tax statement that came in the mail;
there were no charges for sewer service. We contacted the water office and
were told there were no city sewer lines on our street and that sometime in 2014
they would be installed. It will then cost us $6500 to connect. We were told by
the owner of a septic pumping company that the system was ruined by tree roots
and gave us a written estimate of $5500. We were quoted $600 to remove trees
and plants. We are now faced with almost $13,000 for expenses that we could
not have anticipated.
We now know that Riverside County does not require a septic system certificate.
We signed "As Is" agreements with the seller and his bank; however we contend
that both should have disclosed. Did the seller's agent breach his duty to disclose
and/or did our agent breach his fiduciary duty? Are the home inspector and/or
the VA appraiser culpable for their negligence? Why didn't our lender require
a septic system certificate?
Duty of Real Estate Professionals
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