Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ask Erin: What do I do when something breaks after the close of escrow?

I have been asked this twice in the last month by clients who haved closed escrow and moved into their homes, only for something to break shortly thereafter. Both instances, by pure coincidence, involved garage door openers. In one case, about a week after the close of escrow, the garage door opener just stopped working...it did work at time of the home inspection, at the final walkthrough, and at the close of escrow. In the other case, about a month after the close of escrow, the auto-reverse function on a garage door opener stopped working.

Both new homeowners called me to ask if the seller has to purchase them new garage door openers. Before I answer, let me ask you this - if a light bulb burned out in your new home, would you call the seller and ask for a new one? The fact is, things break! Part of home ownership is that you, the new owner are responsible for your home. You will not have any recourse with the seller.

Buyers agree to purchase the house "as-is" unless the seller has agreed to make specific repairs. This is part of the reason why buyer investigation is so important - so you know what you are buying. Did the seller agree to any repairs before the close of escrow? Was this "broken item" one of the agreed upon repairs? Did you or your home inspector look at the {garage door opener}? Did it work before? Did you obtain a home warranty with your purchase?

You might want to check your home inspection report and see if the issue was present at the inspection was performed. It is likely a fluke thing that {it} stopped working as you moved in. If you did get a home warranty, my suggestion is to call your home warranty company and find out if you have coverage for the {garage door opener}. Home warranty companies usually charge a small deductible (like $50 - $60) for a visit...

In both of my garage door examples I mentioned, the new homeowners called their home warranty companies. Both claims were covered and the openers were repaired.

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