Real Estate Breach of Contract
UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022
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Real Estate Breach of Contract
My husband and I closed on our home Sept.8, 2016. Prior to closing the Natural Gas Furnace/ AC Unit was inspected during our buyers inspection. The unit was found to be not working due to insufficient air flow. The sellers agreed to have it fixed by a licensed HVAC professional. We have asked our Realtor several times for documentation and never received it. I contacted the city and they have never issued permits for the furnace repair or natural gas line repair on the furnace. It is now fall and we turned our furnace on, and it still has insufficient air flow. We contacted our home warranty and they sent a service repair man to our home. His findings were the furnace was repaired but he believed it was not a professional because they used sheet metal and duct tape, not the actual heating and cooling tape for the transition piece that connects the heating and cooling system. The sheet metal expanded causing a large leak of air into the furnace room along with carbon monoxide. Our realtor refused calls and text messages from us. When I called the sellers realtor he advised the previous owners do not have to repair the system and he himself does not have to disclose who the professional was that made the repairs. He also made a comment the person who made the repairs was a friend of the sellers from their church who is a licensed HVAC professional and he didn’t want to disclose who he was because he didn’t want me or my husband harassing him. This is my first home purchase and I don’t know the legalities of purchasing a home and I feel like I’m unprotected. The cost of the repairs are approximately 350 and our service call was 75. Not a lot when it comes to contacting an attorney. But if they didn’t hire professionals, then what about years down the road on all the other repairs that we may need done due to their negligence. What can I do now, if anything?
Asked on October 31, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Missouri
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 6 years ago | Contributor
If the agreement to repair was oral (unwritten; often incorrectly called "verbal"), it is unenforceable now, after closing: once you close, any oral agreements are extinguished. (That's a slight oversimplification, but it applies in the vast majority of cases.) If it was a written agreement (e.g. part of the contract), you could in theory sue for breach of contract to get the cost to properly repair the system. But to win the lawsuit, you'd need to have a heating system expert (e.g. an experienced contractor) testify about why the repairs were deficient and what needs to be done (your nonexpert, layperson opinions would not be good enough in court) and would likely have to pay him for his time and to do so; that means that even if you were your own lawyer ("pro se"), you'll likely have several hundred dollars in cost, plus the time you spend on the case (assume at least a full day, possible more), so depending on the cost to correct the issue, suing may or may not be worth it.
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