Saturday, August 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

I purchased a foreclosed home that has a leaky roof, isn’t the real estate agent responsible?

By
From page HSR2 | April 05, 2014 |

Q: I bought a house last year that had gone through a foreclosure many months earlier. I used a local real estate agent to represent me. He was OK in the way he handled the sale and I didn’t have very many complaints when it was all over. But over the past several months I have had water leaking through the roof in at least two places.

I called my real estate agent and he gave me the name of a roofing contractor to call. The guy came out and crawled into the attic. He said it was obvious to anyone who looked that the roof had been leaking for a long time.

I called my agent back and told him about the findings. I pointed out that the agent had done an inspection of the house during escrow and showed him where he had written that the “house looks like it’s in good shape.” The agent said there was nothing he could do and that he wasn’t responsible. Isn’t the agent liable for not catching the roof leak?

A: Maybe, sort of, but probably not.

So let’s back up.

Real estate agents have a legal obligation under the Civil Code to do a visual inspection of a home when they are representing either the seller or buyer. They then make a written disclosure of their findings on the Transfer Disclosure Statement, the mother of all residential disclosures. I’m sure that’s the inspection you were referring to.

But there are real limits on what a real estate agent is expected to be able to find.

The Civil Code lays out the “standard of care” a Realtor must use in representing you. Simply put, a Realtor must use, “the degree of care that a reasonably prudent real estate licensee would exercise . . .” California Civil Code §2079.2.

So what does that mean? Well, that’s potentially for two lawyers to hash out in court.

The simple explanation is your real estate agent’s standard of care is whatever the lowest acceptable standard of care in the industry is. Frankly, you’ll find that’s a common standard in most professions.

In court, lawyers argue about what that standard is.

Here’s the practical way it breaks down in your situation.

Most Realtors aren’t builders or contractors and everyone knows it. There’s no reason to suspect that your Realtor knows more about design and construction of a home than you do.

If there were signs in the house that water was leaking, your Realtor would be expected to see the same things you would be expected to see. You, too, have a legal obligation to pay attention. You can’t deliberately be blind, deaf and dumb just so you can blame someone else later.

Now the limitation the law imposes on the Realtor’s visual inspection is that they have no obligation to inspect anywhere in the home that’s “reasonably and normally inaccessible to this type of inspection.”

Clearly looking in an attic is beyond what your agent is obligated to do. Same goes for crawling under the house.

On the other hand, if there was water staining on the Sheetrock on the ceiling, or it was obvious someone had recently covered up such staining, there would be an obligation to disclose it.

If all of this sounds confusing, join the crowd.

Realtors, home sellers and buyers, judges and juries, all get confused by the requirement that a Realtor conduct an inspection.

As a general rule for anyone buying a home, my recommendation is nobody should rely on their Realtor’s inspection.

It’s always a good idea to put out the few bucks it takes to get a pest and roof inspection. If those inspectors find anything suspicious, you can always call in other specialties so you know what you’re buying.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have any real estate questions you would like to have answered in this column you can contact him at SolanoScene@TJones-Law.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 6 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • John AndersonApril 05, 2014 - 9:39 am

    Another whining buyer who was TOO CHEAP to hire a professional home inspector BEFORE the sale was closed. Typical of America today- be irresponsible and then sue to attempt recovery when stupidity bites back. Why am I so angry about this? .....Because it happened to ME!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • SteveApril 05, 2014 - 10:37 am

    Absolutely agree. That's why you hire a professional to conduct inspections before you buy a house. Another prime example of the let's blame everyone else for our own actions syndrome that has infected this country.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • SobreakitdownformeApril 05, 2014 - 1:51 pm

    The buyer needs to stop complaining and bite the bullet, its not the agents fault.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • S KApril 05, 2014 - 10:46 pm

    Exactly, not the Agents fault. They are a SALES AGENT, not a Home inspector. That what all those inspectors are for. One has to be a wiser purchaser. Look around yourself, with a fine tooth comb also. If looking at homes in Dover South, I would particularly be looking under the crawl space to see how many foundation jacks have fallen over rusted through. Those jacks are warranted by Hoffman for 50 yrs. and time is getting shorter. This may also apply to Dover North in Fairfield, not sure. And I believe as a seller, if the home needs work and the funds just aren't there, I believe that you can sell the property, "As Is," but I could be mistaken on that.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensApril 05, 2014 - 12:38 pm

    Even the big companies hire their own inspectors who will ignore big problems just to make a sale. Let the buyer beware.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • KayApril 05, 2014 - 5:56 pm

    This is a situation where the personal responsibility is appropriate. Realtors are not inspectors and at least in Colorado, they do not complete the Seller's Property Disclosure. If anyone is to blame (and this is debatable) it is the Seller, if they represented that the roof was in good shape. Even then, only if they supplied a certification or some other proof, they are not generally inspectors either. BUYERS, get a home inspection by a professional. Make certain you add a clause in the contract that you have this right if it is not already an automatic part of the contract as it is in Colorado. Even then, some things cannot be seen but that is life, do your best and then move forward knowing you have at least minimized the risk.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Vallejo celebrates cultural diversity

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

2 shot Friday night in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1

 
Groups receive honors for going green

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Badges pinned for new Fairfield, Vacaville firefighters

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
‘Nuttin But Fun!’ theme of 2015 Dixon May Fair

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Adult literacy efforts in need of volunteers

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

County looks for Solano centenarians

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

 
Brown signs two bills by Wolk

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Brain tumors are not all alike

By Scott Anderson | From Page: B8

Weather for Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

New Obama birth control fixes for religious groups

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
US won’t let borders hamper fight vs. extremists

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Interpol seeks clues to Thai ‘baby factory’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Parents had hoped to negotiate with Foley captors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Lawn removal in parched California draws fine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
IDs of men found shot in adjacent yards released

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

DUI arrest is California Democrats’ latest blow

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Couple charged in alleged odometer rollback scheme

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Passengers leave trove at San Francisco airport

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
New fear: What happens in Ferguson if no charges?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ice bucket challenge may change nonprofit world

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Obama taking less vacation, but too much for some

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Days Obama, predecessors spent on vacation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Questions, answers about Missouri grand juries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Gov’t warns US retailers about hacking software

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Ebola spreads in Nigeria; Liberia has 1,000 deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Mosque attack kills 64 in Iraq, Sunnis halt talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Hamas kills 18 suspected informers to deter leaks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

UN: death toll from Syrian civil war tops 191,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
West condemns Russia over convoy to Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

An honest view of recent police shootings

By Deon Price | From Page: A8

 
Cheers, jeers for the week of Aug. 17-23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Boxer, Feinstein: Different routs in backing Israel

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A8

 
Somebody deserves to be fired

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

A ‘gifted’ family member doesn’t have a degree, can’t keep a job

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

 
Horoscopes: Aug. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

 
Ebola outbreak revives interest in ‘The Hot Zone’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Parole denied yet again for Lennon’s killer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Sports

Avila remains undefeated after opponent throws in towel

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Offense struggles, Raiders fall to Packers 31-21

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Panik, Giants end Nationals’ 10-game win streak

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Gray pitches into 9th, A’s top Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Davis’ accomplishments still inspire despite loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Versatile Martin looks to earn 49ers roster spot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
New, longer grass laid at 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

US picks 12-man roster for basketball World Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Blaney steals 1 from Kyle Busch on final restart

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Harvick wins Bristol pole; 5th of this season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Chevrolet wins IndyCar manufacturers championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Scott, Tringale tied for the lead at Barclays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ryu has 66, leads by 5 at Canadian Women’s Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Goodes leads Boeing Classic by 1 stroke

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Aug. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

Fitbit to Schumer: We don’t sell personal data

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Jell-O can’t stop slippery sales slide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

At Jackson Hole, central bankers eye varying goals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Yellen: Job market makes Fed hesitant on rate hike

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Lawsuits challenge FAA drone, model aircraft rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

Mary Louise Loveall

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sandra “Sandy” Caldwell Garton

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Paul Nolin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Home Seller 08/23/14

Real estate transactions for Aug. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Average US 30-year mortgage rate at 4.10 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3