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DonQuixote14

Failure to disclose problems with the house.

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My parents and I bought a house from a real estate agency in Wyoming while living in Florida.  The first time we went to look at the house we realized that the fence was broken, which the realtor didn't disclose and we had to point out.  Neither the realtor nor the seller disclosed any of the things that need/needed repair or that are missing like the backflow preventer for the sprinkler system.  In fact the seller wrote on the home disclosure that everything was working fine and there were not problems whatsoever with the house.
 
After talking to the real estate sales associate/intermediary, who was being mentored by another realtor from the same company, because it was her first and last transaction (she no longer works for the realtor), she stated that the fence would be fixed by the listing agent, who works for the same realtor.   Several times over the course of 2 months, after our March 2016 visit to see the house, I asked the intermediary about the repairs on the fence to which she only replied "it would be fixed".  We went back to Florida, on April 1st after looking at the house, and after signing some paperwork on March 31st that the realtor agent would act as an intermediary.  However the paperwork is also missing a comments section in which I wrote, with my mother and God as witness, that they had to fix the fence.  Now the real estate agency claims they can't find that paper.  The other realtor who was mentoring the intermediary who sold us the house claims he never knew anything about the fence needing repairs, and their supervisors claim they didn't know anything about the fence needing repairs, but later they claimed the fence was repaired and provided an invoice in which it is claimed several repairs were done.  However the fence is still broken in the same place it was broken when we first saw the house.  Even the picture showing the front of the house when it was listed shows part of the broken fence which is the same section that is to this day still broken.  
 
The invoice/receipt the realtor later provided which states the fence was repaired was signed on 4/6/2016, we saw the house and pointed to the broken fence on 3/31/2016, now bear with me for a moment to explain why I think this is highly suspicious.  In the repair invoice it is claimed the handyman  changed the upstairs bathroom door, but when we first came to see the house in March 31st we didn't see anything wrong with that door and in fact it is the same door we saw the first time we came to see the house, which to me it proves that if any repairs were done then they were done before March 31st.  However, the closet door downstairs is the one that is broken since it seems the previous owner kicked the corner of the door in and that was never repaired either.  I asked the realtor what sort of warranty did the handyman provide that the repair he supposedly did would hold, and she just said there was no warranty whatsoever that it would. 

 

According to the assistant of the realtor company owner, the previous owner of the house had requested the repairs on the house, however, the former owner was not here, she moved to Texas, and was living in Texas during the whole transaction, and even when the house was listed she was already living in Texas.  I am not certain the handyman made the repairs claimed in the invoice, and if he did, it was a really bad job and was done before March 31st which would mean the realtor never repaired the house after we came to look at the house and pointed out to them that the fence was broken.  Part of the receipt claims the handyman "hauled away miscellaneous debris", but the backyard was full of trash which we had to clean ourselves.  The intermediary who sold us the house also just told me that "the house needs a little bit of sod in the backyard" but the backyard only has weeds.  The only grass in the backyard is from the neighbor's which crept into our side of the fence from underneath the fence.  When we came to see the house it was in the middle of winter, and the backyard was full of snow so we could not see the extend of the mess of the backyard. 
 
We bought the house on May 12, but my father had surgery due to a diabetes abscess which got infected and we could not move in until 3 months later when my father was better. The fence was broken and apparently sometime before we came  to live at the house, the broken fence had fallen on top of a water spout which has to be replaced as well.    We also later found out that the seller didn't disclose that the house is missing a backflow preventer for the sprinkler system. The seller was aware the backflow preventer is missing because where the backflow preventer goes, it was covered with a plastic bag that was tied to the pipes. The missing backflow preventer was also covered in 4 feet high bushes in the backyard which is why we never realized it was missing until we hired someone to trim the backyard.   We have had two people from the city where we bought the house and who are not family members nor friends who witnessed that the backflow preventer is missing, one of them trimmed our backyard and the second was a repair person that the realtor had sent to take a look at the fence and give the realtor a quote, but the realtor never approved to fix the fence after the handyman came to look at it.  These two people saw that the fence was/is broken, and the backyard was never trimmed at all which hid the missing backflow preventer, or the water spout which needs to be repaired or replaced.   The real estate owner says they haven't been able to contact the seller to deal with the missing backflow preventer.  It has been 6 months now and still the realtor is just claiming that they fixed the fence.   But when I tried to find information on the person who supposedly fixed the fence, and also supposedly did some other repair work, all I could find is that he served time in jail on at least 2-3 occasions for dwi and has at least 5 misdemeanors (as per the local newspaper), but couldn't find any sort of info about this person having experience or knowledge on fixing fences, or having experience in any other repair work supposedly done.  What can we do? 
 
I had tried giving the benefit of the doubt to the realtor, and to the seller.  Neither the realtor nor the seller disclosed any of the missing or broken stuff in the house.  The only thing the realtor agreed to pay was for the repairs to the refrigerator which was also broken but was never disclosed as being broken either, the seller checked the fridge as working as well.  From the start of this transaction there has been lies after lies, and an unwillingness from the realtor to solve most of these problems even when the seller never disclosed any of these problems and even the realtor tried to hide problems such as the broken fence or the fact that the backyard is only full of weeds, which we couldn't see with the snow, and has no lawn in the backyard.
 
Isn't failure to disclose problems with a home and lie about the home a breach of contract?
 
Do we have a case?   What would you recommend we do?
 
Thank you for your time.

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Hi @DonQuixote14

 

Welcome to the community and thanks for posting! So sorry to hear about the situation with this home purchase! Our Learn About the Law materials contains multiple articles about discovering home defects after the sale:

 

You may want to speak with an experienced local real estate attorney about your options at this point.

 

Best of luck!

The FindLaw.com Team

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WAY too much detail here....  I only skimmed the post, and you seem to be claiming that the seller failed to disclose problems with the home or falsely represented the condition of the home (although it seems the problems didn't relate to the home itself, but to the property in general -- e.g., sprinklers and a fence).

 

 

1 hour ago, DonQuixote14 said:

Isn't failure to disclose problems with a home and lie about the home a breach of contract?

 

Since I haven't read and have no ability to read your contract, I cannot opine about what might or might not be a breach, but probably not.  However, false representations or failure to disclose on which you reasonably relied might constitute fraud.  The problem is that the things you described (or at least some of them) could have been easily discovered by even the most basic pre-sale inspection.

 

 

1 hour ago, DonQuixote14 said:

Do we have a case?   What would you recommend we do?

 

Two things.  First, since you seem to have relied on a local realtor to be your eyes in connection with the purchase, I suggest you speak with him/her about the issues and see if he/she is willing to do anything.  If that doesn't work, then I suggest you consult with a local attorney who can review all of the relevant paperwork and advise you.

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Are you actually a party to the sale or just your parents? Was there a home inspection? Did the sales contract actually specify certain repairs? Not verbal agreements with the realtor- they do not own the house and have no authority to make repairs. Were those things fixed? Was there a home warranty?

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