DEAR BOB: We had the final walk-through inspection on our home on Monday. The mortgage funding and closing were on Wednesday. The seller then had 72 hours to vacate. On Sunday when we moved in, we discovered damaged walls, toilets clogged, pipes leaking, and the wood floors scratched. What recourse do we have after all the funds were transferred to the home seller? – Frank W.

DEAR FRANK: Home-buyer walk-through inspections should be scheduled after the seller has moved out. But that advice is too late for your situation, which shows what can go wrong when the buyer’s inspection occurs too early.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

If your sales contract says the home is to be delivered in the same condition as when you inspected it, then the seller is liable for the cost of repairing any damage.

Take photos of the damage. Save your repair bills. However, if you do the repairs yourself, don’t expect reimbursement because the value of your labor is impossible to determine.

Presuming the total repair bills are not large, after making a written demand for reimbursement from the seller, suing the seller in local Small Claims Court is your easiest remedy. For more details, please consult a local real estate attorney.

PLEASE DON’T PAY CASH FOR A NEW CONDO

DEAR BOB: My wife and I, after having sold our previous home, bought a brand-new Florida condo a few months ago. We paid more than $425,000 cash. Everything was brand-new and we were thrilled. But then reality set in. We expected the builder to correct the defects listed on our “punch list.” Over four months later, we’re still waiting. We just received notice that our $230 monthly homeowner’s association assessment will be increasing to $470 on Sept. 1. Also, the common area improvements such as landscaping are minimal, nothing like what was promised or shown in the drawings. We, and many of our neighbors, are very upset and wish we had never purchased. But with our $425,000 tied up, we have no “exit.” What can we do even though the developer still controls the homeowner’s association? – Harold V.

DEAR HAROLD: Now you know why I always recommend home buyers make a modest down payment, up to 20 or 25 percent of the purchase price, and obtain a mortgage for the balance. If the home purchase turns out well, after a few years the mortgage can be paid off.

But it sounds like your situation is very bad. Presuming you have tried to reason with the developer, the next alternative is for you and your neighbors to hire a local attorney who specializes in condominium law to protect your legal rights.

IS JOINT TENANCY BETTER THAN A LIVING TRUST?

DEAR BOB: My wife and I are in our 70s. We hold title to our home in a living trust (as you often recommend). But a friend, whose wife died a few months ago, told us how easy it was for him to clear their joint tenancy title without probate. He told us he just went to the county deed recorder’s office, filed a certified copy of his wife’s death certificate and filled out an affidavit of survivorship to clear the title to his house. Do you think we should switch to joint tenancy with right of survivorship? – Daniel W.

DEAR DANIEL: No. Your friend’s situation had no complications. But suppose his wife suffered a severe stroke, or contracted Alzheimer’s disease, and he had to sell their home to provide funds for her care. He wouldn’t have been able to do so if she wasn’t capable of signing the deed.

However, with a joint living trust, if one spouse becomes unable to manage their affairs, the other co-trustee can act, such as selling the home. Upon death, a living trust also avoids probate costs and delays. A living trust is much better than joint tenancy. If I were in your situation, I would do nothing.

The Robert Bruss special report, “Living Trust Pros and Cons for Avoiding Probate Costs and Delays for Your Heirs,” is available for $4 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet download at www.bobbruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to newsroom@inman.com.

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