Seller took the sidewalk!!!

1stHomeGaNovember 26, 2012

So my wife and I bought a home several weeks ago after an action-packed negotiation process. Certain things outlined in writing were not upheld on the seller's end and we're dealing with those details now but the biggest, craziest thing was that the seller TOOK THE SIDEWALK!!! They actually removed the pavers!!!

What the heck do we do? I have seen articles and forums about how sellers can take personal items such as ornamental mirrors, curtain rods, etc but to actually rip pavers up from the ground crosses the line in my opinion.

The sellers were a nightmare to deal with and I am ready to pursue legal channels if there is a precedent.

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dreamgarden

You said the sellers were a nightmare to deal with.

It is hard to believe that this was done for any reason but spite....

Have you talked to your real estate agent about this yet? You (or she/he) may very well need to consult a real estate lawyer about this.

Here is more information about 'fixtures'. Hope it helps.

How to Determine if Personal Property is a Fixture

Every state has its own guidelines for what constitutes a fixture, but here are the five tests California courts use to determine what is a fixture and what is not. Not every test needs to be met.

It's called M-A-R-I-A.

Method of attachment. Is the item permanently affixed to the wall, ceiling or flooring by using nails, glue, cement, pipes, or screws? Even if you can easily remove it, the method used to attach it might make it a fixture. For example, ceiling lights, although attached by wires, can be removed, but the lights are a fixture.

Adaptability. If the item becomes an integral part of the home, it cannot be removed. For example, a floating laminate floor is a fixture, even though it is snapped together. One could argue that a built-in Sub Zero refrigerator is considered a fixture, although it can be unplugged, because it fits inside a specified space.

Relationship of the parties. If the dispute is between tenant and landlord, the tenant is likely to win. If the dispute is between buyer and seller, the buyer is likely to prevail.

Intention of party when the item was attached. When the installation took place, if the intent was to make the item a permanent attachment, for example, a built-in bookcase, the item is a fixture.

Agreement between the parties. Read your purchase contract. Most contain a clause that expressly defines items included in the sale and ordinarily state "All existing fixtures and fittings that are attached to the property."

A link that migh be useful:

homebuying.about.com/od/marketfactstrends/f/082108_Fixture.htm

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 4:33PM
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doug_gb

Be thankful the home didn't have a paver driveway :)

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 4:45PM
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1stHomeGa

Ha! Great point. I am in the process of finding a real estate attorney to discuss the matter.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 5:10PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I would consider the cost of new pavers a bargain if the alternative is hiring an attorney for legal action which would undoubtedly be more stress and having more interaction with such people.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 5:18PM
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marie_ndcal

You also might check with the city/county to see if there is any recourse against the seller. Because when you put it back, you might have to get their permission and/or permits. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 5:51PM
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1stHomeGa

Hi Marie-ndcal, the sidewalk is actually from our driveway to our front door. It is not a public walkway.

tishtoshnm- I would venture to say that if I end up having to use an attorney to resolve this matter in a court of law I will not be footing the bill for legal fees. Stress of a legal claim does not deter me. For me this is a matter of right and wrong not convenience.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 6:14PM
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cas66ragtop

deleted my own post

This post was edited by cas66ragtop on Wed, Dec 5, 12 at 23:08

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 6:27PM
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sylviatexas1

Please consult your real estate agent before you resort to something that'll cost you money.

I once had sellers remove the kitchen stove;
they said the buyer got a good deal & didn't deserve to keep the stove, too.

I begged them to read the "description of property" section of the contract, & they did bring the stove back.

I wish you the best.

& thanks for the story.
One of the things I like about real estate is that it isn't boring;
just when you think you've heard it all...

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:37PM
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gmp3

A friend bought a house and the sellers removed a large tree in the front yard to take with them. The sellers were from another country and didn't understand this wasn't okay. I believe they ended up getting some money from the sellers to compensate for it.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 8:45PM
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1stHomeGa

Thanks for the feedback and opinions everyone. I am speaking with an attorney this week so I will keep everyone posted. Some of the options I've heard are eat the cost and DIY, get it done and sue for the cost, get estimates and give them to the seller telling them to fix it or I'll do it and sue you for the cost.

I understand that there are times to choose your battles but this is not a little area. I'm talking about a long, curved sidewalk. The cost of the pavers is not the huge issue. The fact that the crushed stone and sand that the pavers were installed on is now gone, washed away and just a path of mud.

The pavers were taken after we closed on the house. The seller had 3 days to vacate from time of closing and because we moved from out of town we were unable to monitor anything.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 9:50PM
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scrapbookheaven

I am not a lawyer, but if the house had closed and the deed was recorded...that seems like it is theft and a matter for the police.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:05PM
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terriks

I would look into the limit for small claims court in your area. You may not need to spend the money on an attorney.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:51PM
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ncrealestateguy

I think this is a police matter now too.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:56PM
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liriodendron

I agree, I don't think that under the circumstances you describe that this is a failure to convey the property as described in the contract. It seems more like a burglary, to me. How do you know that it was the sellers and not some third party who absconded with your walkway? Do you really think they shoveled up the crushed stone and sandbed? That sounds like a bizarre amount of work for piddling gain.

You do get a prize for one of the all-time best attention-snagging titles for a thread. I laughed out loud!

Hope it gets resolved soon. You'll be able to dine out on this real estate saga forever.

L.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 11:37PM
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Komeht

If you actually take this to court with a lawyer you're nuttier than the seller. Not worth the time or legal hassle which could potentially be substantial.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 1:28AM
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lyfia

I think this sounds like theft. Ie I would start with reporting it to the police. They will tell you if it doesn't fall under them and is a civil matter, but if it was there when you closed it seems like theft and maybe it wasn't the owners.

Liriodendron I don't think OP said they shoveled the sand and gravel, but rather with rain that it has washed away.

I'm sorry this happened.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:17AM
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deee_gw

Crazy! What does your agent say? It would be great if this could be handled between the real estate companies before it escalates to the lawyer level.

Do you have listing pictures of the house with the sidewalk?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:48AM
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cas66ragtop

deleted my own post

This post was edited by cas66ragtop on Wed, Dec 5, 12 at 23:09

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:28AM
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cearbhaill

Well, I took a walkway with me when I moved- several enormous flat stones that looked like dinosaur footprints that cost me $100 a piece.
Difference is I knew I was taking them and so took them up, put them into storage, and replaced the them with new pavers before even putting the house on the market.

There's a right way and a wrong way to keep items you want when you sell.
I took a couple of (smaller, lol) rare trees, too, but they were all clearly tagged as not conveying.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:56AM
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brickeyee

Why did you close?

You had ALL the leverage before signing, now you have very little.

Did you fail to do a pre-closing inspection?

Did the remove the pavers between the inspection and closing?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 1:00PM
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sylviatexas1

"The pavers were taken after we closed on the house. The seller had 3 days to vacate from time of closing and because we moved from out of town we were unable to monitor anything."

This does sound like a police matter.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 1:22PM
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trilobite

Okay, your sellers are jerks, but whatever happens, this is one great story. Your family WILL laugh about this later, I promise. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:13PM
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1stHomeGa

Brickeyee,

We did a pre-closing inspection 45 mins before we closed and everything was intact. Trust me we would have spotted a missing sidewalk. They were taken up during the 3 days she had to vacate.

Just got 1 of 3 estimates- $2400 to repair and replace. ouch!!!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 2:21PM
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cas66ragtop

deleted my own post

This post was edited by cas66ragtop on Wed, Dec 5, 12 at 23:10

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 2:48PM
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cearbhaill

"That would be interesting if the dollar ammount of this theft raises it from a misdemeanor to a felony!"

I'd laugh.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 3:27PM
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cmarlin20

I understand you already closed before the theft, but I'd still have my agent call theirs, there may be a misunderstanding where the sellers will return them.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 4:21PM
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kirkhall

"There may be a misunderstanding where the sellers will return them."

Especially if they find out it is a felony theft now.

However, just returning them doesn't get them installed properly to where you will be unlikely to have issues with them in the future.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 7:42PM
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john_wc

I would call the police and ask for an officer to come out. He/she can see the problem and let law enforcement interview neighbors, etc.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 11:45AM
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lyfia

1stHomeGA - so did you contact the police? What have you done other than talk to a lawyer?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 3:03PM
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cearbhaill

Thought of this thread when I saw the below linked story-

Here is a link that might be useful: Man busted for stealing woman's 3,000-sq.-foot driveway

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 3:36PM
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violetwest

weird; wonder if it was 3,000 square feet (a LOT of brick) or 300 sf -- article has both.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 8:36PM
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debo_2006

So, your title peaked my interest, and you certainly meant it literally much to my surprise. That's a heck of a story. I agree with the others that it's stealing. If the pavers where there at final inspection, then gone within the 3 days...and after you owned the house, you have a good case against the ex-owner. Though it might or might not be about money for you (it would for me), it certainly is about principal most definitely. Who the hell digs up a sidewalk and take it with them and especially after they don't even own it anymore? Who even thinks of that? It's just wrong in so many ways.

Can't wait to hear the conclusion to this crazy story; keep us updated.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 10:40PM
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Houseofsticks

Ah, this Reminds me of my first home purchase. It was a for sale by owner. The took EVERYTHING too . Yes pavers included, also: the mailbox, the whiskey barrels with flowers, oh flowers were removed for transport so we were left with bucket loads of dirt no planter. They tried to take a gas range, I stopped them as utilities were already on since we signed paperwork hours ago. To top it off the storage shed in the back yard had a lock on it....FULL of the previous occupants belongings, to be retrieved at a later date, turned out to be 6 months later. We pulled up with our rental truck and they hadn't moved out yet. So guess who got to help.? They left me with one cabinet and one countertop. All this and we called the lawyer to be told we got a "good deal". Small town, we were new. She carried the mortgage after not wanting to fix problems on the inspection report, we should have done more but we were young and in a new town. She did leave a few things: 14 bags of rotting trash in the kitchen, and just outside the back door open garbage cans full of trash and storm water, a burn pile ready to go....oh, sadly, I could go on.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 2:09PM
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clg7067

I wonder what happened with the OP. I have been pricing a paver patio, and it's not cheap!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 3:44PM
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