Agent

Tips for avoiding surprise defects

Post-closing debacles highlight importance of due diligence

A homebuyer in the hills above Oakland, Calif., recently closed on a home that matched her wish list almost perfectly, which is as good as it gets. Before closing, the new home was inspected and no major defects were discovered. The buyer had plans for upgrading, starting with removing all the wall-to-wall carpets. But when the carpets were pulled up, the house began to smell of cat urine. The new owner called her agent, who recommended several people who have experience eradicating pet odor. Within a week, the odor was gone; the buyer was happy and continued renovating her new home. Another homebuyer was not so lucky. She also bought a house where cats had urinated in virtually every room. The Sheetrock and flooring had to be replaced. The remediation cost was in excess of $250,000. She hired a lawyer, went to arbitration and won. As hard as you try to discover all defects before buying, it's impossible to know everything even if the seller is honest and the house is th...

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