Closing a real estate deal is an extensive process between buyer and seller that requires paperwork, viewings and the involvement of other professionals to move the sale forward. If the property is physically damaged prior to closing, it is important to know who is responsible for repairing or ensuring the home is given the care it needs.

Flaws and shortcomings identified before the final stages of the real estate deal often stop the sale. The buyer has the option to stop the sale and abandon the process in many cases, but he or she should perform one last walkthrough to ensure there is no further damage. During this deal period, he or she may contact the seller to repair or replace certain items that were damaged after the initial evaluation but before the sale was finally completed. However, if the property suffers damage before the closing and the buyer is unaware of it, the situation can get complicated.

For property damage, proceed

There are rare situations where the property is damaged and the buyer and seller still proceed with the sale. These events usually occur due to a natural phenomenon or other imperfections that could damage the home, such as: B. fire, weather or storms and earthquakes. If the property is so badly damaged that it cannot be saved, the buyer will withdraw. However, if repairs can remedy the situation, the buyer and seller can work out how to proceed and ensure the deal is completed between them. In such cases, it is often important to have a real estate attorney on hand.

When the damage occurs

Many situations in real estate transactions depend on when the damage occurs. If the property is seriously destroyed before the documentation is available, the buyer may walk out of the deal. However, if he has already signed the last closing documents, the damage cannot prevent the sale. However, the buyer and seller usually agree on the terms to close the deal. If the property catches fire, the buyer can contact the seller regarding the problem that was out of their hands. In these situations, it is possible that insurance will cover the cost and the sale will continue until the buyer is the new owner.

The extent of the damage

Some deals will not be completed if property is damaged to the point that the home is uninhabitable. However, the sale can still take place if the seller or an insurance company covers the cost of destruction. This can depend on the coverage and how long it takes to restore the house to its previous condition. Some buyers are willing to add some costs to the deal if it will leave the property in better condition than it was before. Insurance and other stakes in the reparations may prevent the sale from going through. However, the buyer is usually not responsible for the repair unless he is already the owner.

Additional protection

The buyer or seller can add additional insurance to the home purchase if the deal goes through escrow but has not yet started the final close where the buyer becomes the new owner. At this stage, the seller can protect the buyer’s invested interest by providing more insurance coverage in the event of an accident or unforeseen events such as lightning, fire or flood. While the buyer is not usually responsible for damage to the home, he or she may have to pay additional costs from insurance premiums to protect the home from damage.

Other situations arise from damage or destruction to the home, resulting in the buyer receiving a portion of the insurance proceeds for the incident. The real estate contract may contain a clause leading to this action. If buyer and seller agree to these terms, it could protect what the buyer is already enforcing for the purchase, along with any problems in the sale. However, if the buyer decides to back out of the deal, he or she can reclaim the deposit and sever all ties with the seller.

Real estate attorney specializing in property damage

Sometimes the buyer or seller needs to hire an attorney to handle the sale if the home is damaged. A real estate attorney can help both parties close the matter, even if the home no longer exists.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time of writing. It is not intended to provide legal advice or to suggest a guaranteed result, as individual situations may differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult an experienced attorney to understand applicable laws and how they may affect a case.