Maintenance and repairs are an inherent part of home ownership so it’s not unusual that a new buyer will discover a defect after the close of escrow. However, please bear in mind that the seller’s liability for any preexisting problems is very limited. For the seller to be responsible for repairs after the close of escrow, a buyer must prove that the seller withheld material facts about the condition of the home. In keeping with this and providing the seller disclosed all known defects to the buyer, it is unlikely that a seller will be held liable for repairs after the close. Buyers also have a duty to perform diligent inspections and/or property investigations prior to closing. Therefore, it is prudent for both the seller and buyer to conduct professional inspections on their own behalf.
Although an as-is clause is written into the sales contract, this doesn’t diminish a seller’s duty to disclose a home’s known defects. This clause simply states that the seller isn’t obligated to fix any defects disclosed or otherwise uncovered by the buyer prior to closing. For example, despite the outcome of the home’s condition, a buyer may agree to buy a home “as-is” from the seller. The buyer is still responsible for conducting inspections and retains the right to back out if their findings are not favorable.
While this might not be the conclusion that you were looking for, sadly seller responsibility after closing very limited. Unless you can find they misled you or made egregious errors when resolving a problem, you can’t do much. However, if you do find issues, you should take action!
Key Takeaway: As a seller, it’s important to prepare yourself for the home inspection process, and to know how to negotiate after a home inspection should it result in some unfavorable results. After all, sellers who had a sale fall through, approximately 15% were due to the buyer backing out after the inspection report. Accordingly, be mindful that a prudent buyer will likely request a home inspection when submitting an offer on a house, whereas many end-up requesting repairs or concessions after receiving the outcome…so, be prepared beforehand!