Emotion trumps logic in home purchase dispute
R eader question: We have an accepted offer on a home. We learned that the floor is vinyl, not laminate as stated on the listing data sheet. Unlike laminate, vinyl adds no value to the house.
We asked for a $3,000 price reduction, which was less than half of a new laminate floor price.
We do not want the sellers to suffer for this since the seller when asked, said it was vinyl. The agent made a mistake when completing the listing sheet.
The agent says because the listing sheet reads all information may not be accurate she is protected.
We do not think so. We wonder if it was deliberate as laminate floors add value to the home. If we buy the house can we go after the listing agent since she is the one responsible?
Monty’s answer: The laws in every state vary on such issues. The language on the data sheet does little to protect her.
Consult an attorney in your state to answer your question.
Before you proceed, consider these thoughts and questions:
• While you are sympathetic toward the sellers, the contract is between you and the sellers.
The sellers may be more likely and able to reduce the price than the agent is likely or able to write you a check.
• The fact the difference in the floors had to be pointed out to you suggests other buyers would not notice, or possibly even care, about the differences between laminated and vinyl products.
There are certain situations where vinyl may be a better choice in a home.
A bathroom may be a good example or a laundry room.
Vinyl is superior to laminate when moisture is a possibility.
An alternate course
Consider contacting the agent’s broker. The broker’s slant on this situation may be different.
Some real estate companies will go to great lengths to satisfy a customer in such circumstances.
They do not want an errors and omissions insurance claim this size as their deductible may be higher than the cost to settle.
If they discover the agent was in error, they may settle with you as a matter of principle.
They will also want to avoid a complaint to the state real estate regulators.