An 80-year-old woman contacted me recently about listing her Solterra home and buying another, larger home. We found a home that suited her beautifully, only to learn that the property had just gone under contract (a typical scenario in today’s market).
Another round of looking turned up the identical house—this one a model from a Solterra builder. My client liked the idea of a dirt-start. Their spring 2017 completion date worked for her. She signed the contract and gave the builder $25,000 in earnest money. Two weeks later she was diagnosed with health issues. The larger home would no longer work. It became imperative that she get out of her contract, and asked me to help her recover her earnest money.
Armed with a letter from the woman’s doctor, I went to the builder to explain the situation and ask that the earnest money be refunded. The builder declined, citing that the contract did not specify a change in health status as an acceptable reason for termination.
My client and I consulted an attorney who reiterated the builder’s argument: a change in health status was not grounds for termination.
I asked my client to wait to sign the termination agreement and went one more time to talk with the builder. An email arrived a few days later. They had reconsidered the situation. The builder is refunding the woman her entire $25,000 deposit.
A lot can happen in the course of buying and selling a home. The skill set of an experienced, knowledgeable broker is indispensable when you encounter a sticky situation. In this case, my training in negotiation gave me the confidence to go back to the builder without a clause to stand on. Thanks to the training, I possess the skills necessary to advocate effectively, this time on behalf of an 80-year-old client with health issues.
What will your next real estate scenario require?
Be sure you hire a broker with the knowledge and the desire to protect your interests.