If a deal goes bad, just move on, find a new buyer

Updated 7/14/2013 4:41 PM

Q. We had our property listed for sale for over a year. Last week, a couple came along and gave us an offer. After a little negotiating, we settled on a contract. We were thrilled as we had been wanting to move south before it got cold again.

Yesterday we got a letter from their attorney saying he disapproved the contract and was canceling the deal. Our attorney says there is nothing we can do except put it back on the market.

We are totally upset and confused. If the attorney had a problem with the contract, why wouldn't he tell us what the problem was and maybe we could fix it? Is there anything we can do to save this deal?

A. Disapproving the contract with no further explanation is lawyer talk for my clients changed their mind. This most likely had nothing to do with the contract. Your attorney gave you good advice. Put it back on the market and hope for the best.

Q. We recently signed a contract to sell our home. The buyers did a home inspection and we just received the letter from their attorney. There is a list of 31 items they want repaired. They also state they will accept a credit of $8,000 if we don't want to fix anything.

Many of these items are extremely minor, such as loose handrails, torn screens, cracks in the cement walkway and missing shingles. Does the home inspection cover all these items? This house is 40 years old, of course it's not going to be perfect. We are at a loss as to how to respond. Our attorney is suggesting we just offer them a credit for what we think is fair. Does that sound like a good idea to you?

A. Paragraph 10(a) of the Multi Board Residential Real Estate Contract, the contract most commonly used in our area, provides that "Buyer agrees that minor repairs and routine maintenance items of the Real Estate do not constitute defects and are not part of this contingency." The paragraph goes on to state "The home inspection shall cover only the major components of the Real Estate." The sentence then lists the major components.

In spite of the above language, buyers and their attorneys (admittedly, myself included) include minor issues in their home inspection letters. Part of the reason is buyers don't want to deal with even minor issues when purchasing their new home. Another reason may be that in many circumstances, the parties negotiate a credit to the buyer in lieu of seller addressing the inspection issues. The more issues there are, the larger the credit, or so the logic goes.

I think you received good advice from your attorney. Presuming you don't wish to address the home inspection issues, offer a fair credit for the items you deem legitimate concerns. I have very few deals that fall apart over home inspection issues. Also, unlike the last few years when buyers had the upper hand in these negotiations, the pendulum is swinging. Chances are there are other buyers for your property if your current buyers are not reasonable.

• Send your questions to Attorney Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine, IL 60067, by email to tdr100@hotmail.com or call (847) 359-8983.

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