Who is responsible for the house condition in the time between an auction and closing?

UPDATED: Mar 3, 2012

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Who is responsible for the house condition in the time between an auction and closing?

I bought a house at auction with a $5,000 deposit. I’m still waiting to close while the banks work out the foreclosure deed. The current occupants are taking all kinds of things from the house in the meantime (i.e. the pool deck and who knows what else). What am I liable for or who is responsible if they take things like the copper pipes and things essential to the house before the closing? What if the pipes freeze since it’s winter? I don’t have a real estate agent in my corner because it was an auction.

Asked on March 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Hampshire


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Typically, the seller of the home (e.g. the bank, in the case of most foreclosures) is responsible until the sale closes; from that point onward, it is the buyer. This can be changed by agreement or contract, so you need to review any terms or forms in connection with the auction, to see if by participating in the auction, or by something you signed, you agreed to accept this risk.

Note that regardless of whether you or the bank bear the risk at this point, since the current occupants do not own the home anymore, they have no right to take anything but personal property (e.g. furtniture, TVs, etc). If they take anything attached to the home, they are likely stealing (and/or commiting vandalism). The police should be informed if they have done so; and whomever is responsible for the house could sue them.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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