Finding Structural Problems During Escrow – Small Rural Home Example
In rural home purchases, the transaction is often subject to a satisfactory home inspection being done. Any imperfections are usually corrected during escrow. Now and then, however, a home inspection uncovers severe structural problems. What happens then?
Structural Problems – Small Rural Home
With a small rural home purchase, the discovery of structural problems can be more problematic. Typically, neither the seller nor buyer has sufficient funds to undertake major repairs. Still, solutions such as the following one can be found.
The house was a 3 bedroom, one bath, rambler built on a crawl space set on a one-acre lot in a rural setting. The sellers were a husband and wife both of who were disabled. I’m not talking about a “slipped on a banana peel” trumped up disability here. The husband had been electrocuted at work, spent 14 days unconscious and suffered a massive heart attack. The wife suffered from a progressive problem with arthritis. The buyer was a young widow with 3 children.
The home inspection turned up old termite and water damage. The termites had been killed and the drainage problem fixed, but the sill plates and floor joists were seriously damaged. The floors were somewhat soft and sagged in various areas. The young widow could not afford and did not want to deal with the problem. She asked to be released from the contract.
To complicate matters, the husband’s former employer had declared bankruptcy and had not paid his medical bills. The husband was borrowing money to pay the bills, but the medical bills were still growing. The sellers discussed the situation. They understood the buyer’s point of view, but did not know how to fix the problem. Their mortgage lender declined to make a second loan and the sellers didn’t have any savings left.
A business friend suggested the sellers ask a young builder friend to evaluate the structural damage. The goal was to get a ballpark idea of the cost to repair before throwing in the towel. It turned out that the builder couldn’t remedy the problem because the house needed to be raised to give room for new sill plates and floor joists. The builder suggested a house-moving firm make suggestions.
The business friend also gave the sellers the name of a lender who had been useful to people in uncomfortable circumstances. The sellers contacted the lender and were able to get the necessary loan. The house moving firm and builder worked out a reasonable deal and the loan was used to get the necessary work done. The deal closed, the sellers paid off the loan, paid down bills and the buyer was happy.
The moral of the story? No matter what happens, don’t get angry, don’t lose your cool and don’t give up. If you can keep your head, behave like a reasonable adult, and keep communication lines open, your chances of holding your deal together are amazingly good.