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Our buyers just cancelled out!

Posted by scarlett2001 (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 17, 13 at 2:49

'Twas the night before Christmas and escrow was about to close, when...

The buyers decided to have a home inspection. Ok, fine with us, we know the house is in tip top shape...but wait! The home inspector needs a seeing eye dog. He thinks the fireplace is unsafe, and he has the backup of a local chimney sweep/fire place inspection and repair company that agrees with him, to the tune of over $4K to "fix." (He also thinks we have no flue, because he could not see the flue chain, which is right in front of his face.)

It seems that the chimney sweep/fireplace repair company, WITHOUT EVER ACTUALLY COMING TO THE HOUSE to see the fireplace, declared it unsafe.

So our first time buyers back out, we have the fireplace people come back and this time really inspect it, guess what!! It passes with flying colors! But we have lost our sale. I hope Santa puts coal in their stocking.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Sounds like they just wanted a way out of the sale. Sorry to hear of this. Next buyer won't be able to use that excuse now that you have had it inspected yourself. NancyLouise


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

I'm sorry, that must be disappointing.

I don't know what it is with some of these inspectors, the one our buyers used said the glass wall on semi-enclosed front porch was an 'immediate hazard', it needed to be safety glass. It WAS one solid sheet of safety glass, he didn't inspect close enough to see 'framing' added to the inside was 'faux' and for ornamental purposes only, to break up the look of big expanse of glass. It only rested against the glass, was not a part of the construction.

He said too that the electric back up furnace to the heat pump didn't work but he was unfamiliar with and didn't know how to test the computerized thermostat - all was in perfect working order. I had it professionally inspected the next day ($200) and produced a report for them - 'entire system responding normally'.

We didn't lose our sale after pointing out those things, I'm sorry that you did.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Today I'm wondering about suing them. I have never had a lawsuit in my life, but this may be the first.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

So sorry scarlett2001. I agree it looks like the buyer may have gotten cold feet and wanted out of the deal. Such a waste of your time and really there is no excuse. As for suing them- I don't know about that. It seems like an energy drain for you and probaly isn't worth your time. Now the chimney sweep company seems like a party who should be responsible for some legal comeuppance. How irresponsible to deem your chimney unsafe when they never even looked at it. That is the party I would be looking at if I wanted to engage in a lawsuit. But then again, my lawyer is free so that makes all the difference when legally slapping someone who needs it.

I hope your next buyer is solid, and I hope he/she arrives soon.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Curious, who hired--and paid for- the home inspector? Was the buying agent involved? Could you put a formal complaint with the broker and find out if the repair company was licensed, bonded and insured in your state. Did the inspector have some sort of certification you could challenge? I agree with you, I would be extremely upset. You might talk to your local building dept officials to see what type of complaint you can file so he cannot do further inspections. Some of these inspectors are former contractors who have been involved with other complaints and may or may not were ever licensed. Also check on the company to find out if they have city licenses to conduct their business and what certification they have or don't have. If located in a city, go to mayor, city council etc. Word of mouth is good.
Good luck
and I know someone will buy your home without a problem


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

I'm not quite sure who you think you are going to sue. Most real estate contracts allow for a buyer to withdraw from the contract based upon inspections. Any lawsuit against the buyers will result in your house essentially coming off the market while you sue. You can't sell a house involved in a lawsuit.

Suing the inspector--pretty much a waste of time. You had no contract with the inspector. He was doing his job for the buyer.

Sue the chimney sweep? For what? Could it be that the inspector, the agent, or the buyers called him for his opinion, based upon a general question, and he responded. It sounds like he did an estimate over the phone. Contractors often will do that. Particularly this time of year chimney sweeps/fireplace people are busy. No one to sue there.

I'm sorry this happened to you, but suing someone will not get your house sold or get you moved.

This post was edited by rrah on Tue, Dec 17, 13 at 19:23


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Marie wrote:
"Curious, who hired--and paid for- the home inspector? Was the buying agent involved? Could you put a formal complaint with the broker and find out if the repair company was licensed, bonded and insured in your state"

What does this have to do with anything?


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Just to clarify - I would not sue the buyer, no reason for that. The people I am steamed about are the chimney sweep/fireplace repairers that never even looked at the house.

I probably will not sue anybody, but I wonder how a company (the chimney sweep/fireplace repairers) can write an "unsafe" report without ever even going to the residence? I want to stop them from doing that, ever again. Seems to me that they were angling for a $4000 "repair" that was not needed. When they came to the house for real and we confronted them, they were quick to proclaim it just fine. That seems at least very unethical, if not illegal.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Do you have a listing agent?

Had the buyer's agent and listing agent (if you have one) done anything, such as asking for the evidence and onsite inspection report from both the chimney company and home inspector in order to protect the transaction?

If it proves the home inspection report is false, won't they at least get you to keep the buyer's deposit when the buyer backed out the sale for no reason?


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

I thought the repair company never came to the home?
The repair company did not declare the chimney unsafe, the inspector did. The repair company only gave a quote to the inspector after he described the situation to them. Unless I am misreading.
I believe there is more to the story here.
What was the actual "unsafe condition"?
Did your agent take pics and explain to the buyer's agent that the chimney is fine?
Why did the repair company visit the home?
Were the buyers in the Due Diligence Period?


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

We had a buyer back out 3 days before closing. We worked with our attorney. The buyers lost their earnest money. Five months later, we sold the house.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

I will try to answer all those questions:

Here is the timeline:
1. buyer entered escrow.

2. buyer's lender asked for home inspection.

3.Home inspector not familiar with fireplaces, could not find the flue, so declared it was missing. Flue chain was right in front of his face and working fine.

4. Home inspector said the interior of the prefab fireplace was constructed so that the fire would be too close to flammable material inside the aperture.

5. DH challenged this. Home inspector declared that he was not too familiar w/fireplaces and called in the ------Company Chimney Sweep/fireplace repairers. They are supposed to be experts and their word was going to be the definitive answer to whether the fireplace was safe or not.

6. ------- Co. never went to the residence, but phoned it in, saying that the FP needed $4000 of work. ( Which they would be happy to do.) They called this a "blind repair bid".

7.Buyers backed out, citing safety concerns. They are contractually able to do this, and keep their deposit, which is not the issue, anyway. We have NO quarrel with the buyer.

8. to settle this issue for future sales, our listing agent had the ------ Co. come and do an actual inspection. They found nothing at all wrong with the FP. We asked for a letter stating that the FP is safe. They now refuse to give it, probably because that shows their dishonesty, incompetence or both in giving us an 'unsafe' rating with their "Blind Repair Bid".

9. Since ------- 's phoney baloney rating cost us a $656,000 sale, I want to consider my legal options.

Hope that answers all questions. Apologies for the length and thanks for all your replies.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Scarlett2001 I really hope you go after the chimney company, but I am not sure what monetary damages you will be able to recover. First off they were wrong to bid a repair on a fireplace that they had not seen when that bid in itself was damaging to your sale.

The second issue is they came to your house, did an inspection on the fireplace and will not give you a letter detailing what they found on their inspection, i.e., that the fireplace did not need repairs and is safe. They inspected it therefore they need to give your the inspection report. The company sounds very shady and should be held accountable.

At the very least I hope you choose to use the internet as a tool and give this company negative reviews. I always check out any dentist, doctor, or contractor before I use them and pay very close attention to any negative reviews.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Acadiafun, Funny you should mention that! I checked them out on YELP last evening and out of 8 reviews, 3 were really bad. The other 5 were so glowing, that I wonder if they are legitimate.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Tanks for the responses.
All FP insert manufacturer give detailed installation instructions as o the minimum distances to the framing of the home. If you know the maker of the FP, you can Google and find this out. The distances are relatively small... maybe 2 inches.
How could the inspector see how close the insert was to the framing members? It should be impossible to se this in a finished home.
I would find this info out and then pass it on to the past buyer. Maybe they will come back.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

I still contend the buyers exercised their right to withdraw. It may have been based on incomplete information, but that is their right to use that information. The fault lies with the buyer for not exploring further and perhaps their agent for not suggesting they get an actual inspection and bid by an expert in the field.

A "blind repair bid" is exactly what I indicated likely happened above. Someone called the chimney sweep and hypothetically asked, "If "x" condition exists is the fireplace safe?" The chimney sweep correctly answers, "No, it would not be safe." The caller asks for a repair amount. Sight unseen the chimney sweep says, "It would cost 'x" amount." The buyers backed out based on the hypothetical.

I've called companies for home maintenance issues and always ask, "What might it cost?" after describing the problem. Recently we had to replace a part in our hot water heater. The company said the problem could be "x" or "y" or "z. The possible costs associated with each of those things is this number." It happens all of the time with people that do home maintenance and repairs.

As for not giving you a letter indicating it is safe, I wouldn't either. An inspection is only good for the day it is done. Suppose the chimney sweep did give you the letter and six months later there was a fire. They could/would be dragged into court because of that letter. Giving you such a letter saying it is safe would open them up to liability issues and lawsuits. Could they give you a letter saying that on this date, the fireplace is in good condition and should be safe if maintained properly, etc.? Sure.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

The buyer was not acting upon "incomplete information", it was based on erroneous information. It is hard to believe that a buyer could be so easily off the hook from a legal contract for such a lame excuse. May be there is more story to that...

The Chimney sweep company was not being asked for a rough estimate over a causal phone call for a home repair issue. Instead, the company, based on OP's posting, was asked to backup the home inspector's judgment that was relevant to an expensive real estate transaction.

Why could they not provide a letter indicating the FP was safe at the moment when they inspected it? An inspection report describes how the inspection was performed, and, of course, the state of the time when the inspection was done. Same as a home inspection, a car inspection or a health checkup report, because the house could be burn down next day, the car could be in an accident right after the inspection or the patient could die the following week.

The Chimney sweep company and home inspector both are sloppy, irresponsible and should bear legal consequences. The buyer and listing agents did a terrible job to protect the transaction, and their own commissions.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

It is 'incomplete information'. Nobody said anything wrong (well ... other than the inspector who then backed down and suggested a more professional opinion).

The inspector said "I think something is wrong here."
The chimney company said "If something is wrong, it'll cost $x"
The buyers decided they didn't want a definitive answer, they just wanted out because there could possibly be a problem. A home inspection contingency allows them to do that.

Nothing erroneous here. Unless the repair company was trying to pass off their 'blind' repair estimate as an actual inspection and estimate. But that doesn't seem to be the case from what the OP has stated.

My only puzzlement about the situation is that the repair company was then paid to do an actual inspection but they refuse to give you documentation that it's okay?!? Isn't that what you paid them for? Or was the inspection free? Then I could see that they don't want to bother with the paperwork for no benefit on their end.

This post was edited by greg_2010 on Thu, Dec 19, 13 at 15:01


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

I hope to lay this to rest once and for all: I have NO problem with the buyers backing out. They are first time buyers and are scared that there is a fire hazard issue there, especially since both the home inspector and the chimney sweep people said the FP was not built right. In their place, I would have probably done the same thing.

My issue is that both the home inspector and the chimney sweep people were completely wrong. The Chimney sweeper guys accepted $ for doing a bad job, tried to get $4000 to fix something that was not broken and now will not reverse their incorrect decisions and say that the FP meets code. We don't want this issue coming up again with our next buyer. As for "safe" that is a relative concept. All I want is to say that it meets code, which they have told us verbally, but will not put into writing. I guess we are headed for small claims court.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Go get em Scarlett2001!


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

What do you mean that " the chimney sweeper guys accepted $ for doing a bad job"?
If it was my listing, I would have Googled the codes and forwarded the info to the buyer's agent, and would have invited everyone for a big 'ol pow wow right there at the home.
Was there any attempt on your agent's part to work through the miscommunication?
As far as suing... what are your damages that you will be claiming?


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

I have to agree with nc--exactly what are your damages? You indicated that you lost the sale. Based on your information that is not exactly a small claims court problem.

Good luck with that.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

"We don't want this issue coming up again with our next buyer." - you may encounter other 'real' or 'seems real but not' issues like this one and would lose sale if you have an incompetent listing realtor.

The solution is to find a listing agent as competent and experienced as ncrealestateguy to protect you.

In MHO the true 'test' of a realtor's competency is in "closing" the sale. On this forum, we read many threads about failed closing, which are clear that they would have different results if they had competent listing agent.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

My issue is that both the home inspector and the chimney sweep people were completely wrong.

Okay, the home inspector was wrong, but then he backed down and said that a pro should give an opinion. So there isn't really any 'wrong-doing' here. He was corrected before it became a problem.

The chimney sweep people weren't wrong if they didn't inspect it. They just said if something is wrong, it could take $x to fix it. Again, nothing wrong with that statement and no 'wrong-doing'.

I know you don't have a problem with what the buyers did, but you've never clearly stated whether the buyers actually understood that there was no professional inspection. Is that the case?


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

To me, it seems that the buyers just used this as a hat hanger. Seems as though that if they really wanted the deal to close, they would have, at the minimum, secured a second or third opinion, and / or asked the seller to repair. Sounds like this was not the case.
Also, if your state uses the due diligence period in which the buyer has the right to terminate the deal for any and or no reason, then there is no way that you know the real reason why they terminated. And I highly doubt that they would provide a notarized letter stating that the reason they terminated was because of the fireplace. Chances are they have already moved on and are under contract with another property. I would think that this letter would be imperative in a court case.

This post was edited by ncrealestateguy on Fri, Dec 20, 13 at 12:17


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Well, it's all down the toilet now, so why keep myself in an uproar. The buyers are gone for whatever reason, we did not bite at the bait and pay those payaso chimney guys the $4000, but I will be giving them an evaluation on YELP, etc. Their website says they are OSHA licensed, so I will be communicating w/ OSHA as well. I just don't want them doing this to other people.

I mean, if you took your car to the mechanic and without even opening the hood, he said, "yeah, it's a mess, gimme $4000 to fix it", would that be ok? "Oh, wait, it's fine, I was mistaken." That just reeks of dishonesty.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who weighed in. Lots of good perspective here, which I could not find elsewhere. And to all, a good night...


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

I do not think anyone here knows what the chimney guys did to you. The inspector called them and asked for a quote for what he thought (maybe incorrectly) was a defective FP. They gave him an estimate. What's the big deal?
Also, what do you mean that " the chimney sweeper guys accepted $ for doing a bad job"?


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Without going to the house or looking at the fireplace, the chimney guys cited SPECIFIC defects for which they proposed to charge us $4000 to fix. When we made them come and actually look at the FP, they could not find anything wrong at all. They will not give us their written doc that there is nothing wrong with the FP. Hence, "bad job".

I thought we were going to be billed for their bogus "inspection", but have since found out that the prospective buyers paid, so no small claims court for us.

Does that answer your Q?


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

That is completely frustrating. We had a buyer back out of buying our house due to 'road noise'. She didn't notice the noise on the first visit but on the second it was particularly loud (our house was near a freeway). Weird thing was it had never been that loud before. But, she backed out of her full price cash offer and we were devastated. Weeks and weeks later when we realized the noise was a weird fluke (cloud cover bouncing the road noise?) we offered her to take another look. Her realtor came out the next day and we had an identical full price cash offer that night.

You may want to reach out to the original buyers. You just never know...


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

That is completely frustrating. We had a buyer back out of buying our house due to 'road noise'. She didn't notice the noise on the first visit but on the second it was particularly loud (our house was near a freeway). Weird thing was it had never been that loud before. But, she backed out of her full price cash offer and we were devastated. Weeks and weeks later when we realized the noise was a weird fluke (cloud cover bouncing the road noise?) we offered her to take another look. Her realtor came out the next day and we had an identical full price cash offer that night.

You may want to reach out to the original buyers. You just never know...


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Sounds like the Real Estate gods were having a laugh!

As of yesterday, we have a new offer.

Only problem is, this new buyer is in escrow, selling her current house and that doesn't close until Jan. 27th.

I sure hope we have no more glitches this time but, you never know! It's kind of nerve-wracking.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

Congrats! And fingers crossed that things proceed smoothly from here on.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

You might think about reporting the chimney sweep company to any commercial organizations they may be members of, i.e., Chamber of Commerce or BBB, or licensing entities.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

I would certainly complain loudly to the buyer's agent/realtor, who was in charge of arranging these "inspections". At the least he/she and the firm should be thinking several times before using these galoots again.

NCrealestateguy and greg_2010, my read on this is that the chimney co. didn't just say "if", they told the buyer that "it is", before ever performing an inspection, based on erroneous information. That is the problem.

When I have had my chimney cleaned and inspected, the company has always given me a written report on their findings. I would complain to whoever licenses that company about their refusal to do so.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

The inspector called the chimney company and asked if xyz was a code violation. Based on the inspectors comments, the chimney company told him that it was indeed out of code.
When the chimney company came out on the homeowners request, they saw first hand that the item was indeed in code. They do not have to provide a written inspection report. They are not licensed inspectors. They did not charge the homeowner any money.
If anyone is to blame here, it is the two agents and the sellers for not pushing the correct info to the buyers. My gut instinct is that the buyers just used this convenient item to get out of the contract.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

MY gut instinct is...that you are (or represent) the company involved. How else do you explain these statements, were you there?

I have explained this three times. I will not explain it again, except to say that yes, they did attempt to charge the homeowner, to the tune of $4000.


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RE: Our buyers just cancelled out!

scarlett, it's probably past time to let this go and move on. I haven't read through all the above but something struck me last month and as this comes back to the top is still a thought I'm having. If you were selling a $79,000 house and a conceivably $4000 repair or correction came up, it might scare a buyer. But a $4000 only 'flag' on a $656,000 house? I'm leaning towards they were already getting cold feet and welcomed any reason to back out....it's too small a percentage of the overall value of the house to be a deciding factor.


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