When does a seller's responsibility end?
I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I'm feeling a bit rattled right now and hope someone here can give me a reality check.
A year and a half ago, we sold a home we had lived in for over 20 years. A year prior to putting the home on the market, my husband and a friend with several years of roofing experience replaced the roof. Our old roof had some issues with ice damming, so they installed ice and water shield to deal with that problem. We indicated all of this on our disclosure form when we listed the house. We paid for 2 home inspections;one before we listed the house, so we could have a heads-up on potential problems and start fixing them, and another when the buyers made an additional inspection a condition of their purchase.
This is the third winter for the new roof. For the first winter, we were still in the house and had no problems. Last winter, the new owners were in the house. It was a record snowfall year for our area, but to our knowledge they had no problems with the roof. This past October our area had extremely high winds with many homes sustaining roof damage. In December we received an email from the new owners indicating they were having problems with leakage and asking for the name of the company that had replaced the roof. We suggested that the roof might have sustained damage during the high winds in October, or possibly the problem might be similar to something we had experienced a few times while living in the house: two or three times we found a small amount of water (2 - 3" in diameter) that was easily wiped up. Quite honestly, it was so minor and happened only a couple of times so we didn't even think of it when we filled out our disclosure form. It was only their email that reminded us of the experience. Further communication from them stated that a couch and rug had been ruined by what they indicated was almost a steady stream of water coming from the ceiling. We let them know we had never experienced anything close to the severity of what they were describing.
This evening we got an email from the buyers that sounds like it might have been written by a lawyer. They describe massive dripping coming from several different points in the ceiling. (To clarify, the dripping we experienced occurred only in one spot, and that was under a popped-up portion of the roof totally segregated from the rest of the roof.) They also listed the water damage to their personal belongings as a result of the dripping. They will "be contacting two separate licensed and bonded roofing companies to investigate the problem and provide us bids to rectify any issues that exist which are contributing to the condensation as well as repairing any latent damages." Once they receive the bids, they will contact us to discuss a resolution. They state their anticipation that we will "participate monetarily in this resolution". With several inches of snow on the roof, it will be impossible for a roofing company to inspect for wind damage, so I don't think they are even considering that as a possibility.
Is this buyer someone who wants to pay for a 30+ year old home yet expects the guarantees and convenience of new construction? To my perhaps old-fashioned way of thinking, when you buy a house you buy any problems that develop. The few times we had to wipe a bit of water from the floor barely registered with us. The problem was so minor that there wasn't even any staining on the ceiling from where the water dripped. We answered all the questions on our disclosure form honestly and completely and paid for two inspections. Are we liable for not mentioning something so inconsequential that we didn't even remember it until we got the buyer's email?