Editor’s note: Robert Bruss is temporarily away. The following column from Bruss’ “Best of” collection first appeared Sunday, March 12, 2006.
DEAR BOB: Last fall my husband and I moved from out-of-state and purchased a home. The sellers accepted our offer with no contingencies. All the papers were signed; we even had the movers all arranged. A week later, our Realtor called to say the sellers “changed their minds.” Since we had already accepted a good offer on our old house and had to move, this put us in an extremely stressful situation. We ended up making another trip to the area and purchasing another home, which we don’t like as well. I think the sellers should pay us the cost of our second trip and our cost of having their house professionally inspected. Should I contact a lawyer or at least go to Small Claims Court? –Joyce B.
DEAR JOYCE: Unless there was a legal loophole in your home purchase contract allowing the sellers to cancel the sale, you should not have allowed them to cancel just because they “changed their minds.” At the very least, you should have been well compensated for agreeing to cancel the purchase.
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Your legal recourse was to hire a local real estate attorney, file a specific-performance lawsuit to force the sellers to complete the sale as agreed, and record a “lis pendens” against the title to effectively prevent them from selling to another buyer or refinancing the property. Shame on your Realtor for not advising you to consult an attorney.
However, if you cancelled the purchase contract and accepted a refund of your good-faith deposit, the sellers probably have no further obligation to you unless they agreed in writing to compensate you for your additional costs.
Just because you think the sellers should pay for your extra expenses doesn’t mean they are legally obligated to do so. If you really wanted that house, you shouldn’t have agreed to cancel the sale.
EVEN IF YOU NEVER SAW THE CONDO RULES, YOU MUST COMPLY
DEAR BOB: I just received notice from my condo homeowner’s association that I am in violation of the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) for having red window treatments. I looked in the CC&Rs and there is no such mention of that rule. I never received a copy of the CC&Rs before I purchased. The window treatment has been up for over 13 months. Is there any way I can fight this? –Kimberlee K.
DEAR KIMBERLEE: Just because you didn’t ask for — and receive — a copy of the homeowner association by-laws, CC&Rs, and rules doesn’t mean you are excused. Your real estate agent should have provided these important documents before you took title.
I suggest you comply by having your red drapes or window coverings lined with a white material. The cost will be far less than fighting your homeowner’s association if you are in violation of their rules.
TAX SALE PURCHASE SHOULDN’T REQUIRE LEGAL EXPENSES
DEAR BOB: Thank you for recommending the excellent book, “Profit by Investing in Real Estate Tax Liens,” by Larry Loftis. My question is, how easy is it to clear a title for resale after a tax deed is purchased at a property tax auction? –Jan C.
DEAR JAN: Property taxes are first priority in the title chain. If you acquire a property title at a tax lien sale, that sale wipes out any junior encumbrances such as a mortgage or judgment lien.
The exact answer to your question depends on whether you acquired a tax lien certificate or a tax deed. The state law where the property is located determines what you own.
If you just have a tax lien certificate, you do not yet own the property until the owner fails to redeem your certificate. However, if you bought a tax deed, that sale should have wiped out any other encumbrances on the property. For full details, please consult a real estate attorney in the county where the property is located.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “2006 Realty Tax Tips: Eight Chapters of Tax Savings for Homeowners and Realty Investors,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, Calif., 94010, or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery 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).