Make Your Realtor Give the Answer in
W R I T I N G ! ! !
You are in the middle of negotiating to buy the house of your dreams and there is a question you have about something in the Sellers' Disclosure Notice - something about a previous "flooding" into the house. It says off to the side "1 foot of water" and in the explanation, it says there were three days of rain that came from the North. None of it really makes sense, so you ask your realtor about it. She says, let me check and call you back.
She calls the other realtor and the other realtor says the "1 foot of water" was in the garage. Your realtor calls you back and tells you it was only one foot of water in the garage. No problem, you think. The house is higher than the garage, that should be no problem for me. So you buy the house.
A few months after moving in, you are out in your yard and one of your new neighbors comes over and eventually says, "So it didn't bother you, the big flood we had here?"
And you say, "Big flood, the sellers said it was only 1 foot of water in the garage."
And your neighbor just about falls over and says, "Wait here, I have something to show you."
He returns with a book full of photographs and a video. Your house had a river running through it and there was at least 4 feet of water inside the house. The garage probably had 6-7 feet of water in it. And most importantly, the sellers were rescued from their home in a boat that picked them up in their front yard. The video shows rescue helicopters plucking people from rooftops and taking them to safety.
Sound unbelievable? It's all true. It really happened in a case from Houston exactly as above. How could this happen? Well it happened mostly because the realtors were never required to answer these questions in writing. If they had been, it is highly doubtful they would have ever said it was only a "foot of water in the garage."
Both realtors had a vested interest in making asking and answering questions verbally. If you trust someone, their word is good enough. Would it surprise you to learn that the sellers' realtor denied these events later? The buyers' agent confirmed these facts and a settlement followed.
In your real estate transaction, get your agent to ask the question in writing and refuse any answer that is not in writing in return. If they won't put it in writing or they are reluctant to do so, what does that tell you? Do the smart thing, make the realtors put the questions and the answers in writing.