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  1. #1
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    Shady people selling houses rant

    So I just moved into my new house on March 27th. I love the house, except what I found out yesterday kinda put a damper on things (I still love the house though, and am standing by my purchase decision).

    When we (fiance and myself) were looking at the house, I asked my realtor to see if she could find out if there has ever been a leak/water problem in the basement.

    They reply back with a strong "no". Plus, the basement is near 100% finished, the unfinished part being the heating unit, water heater and air conditioner unit, so why would somebody fully finish a leaky basement right!? Which was the thought of both the realtor and myself.

    Well, just yesterday, my fiance was speaking with our neighbors, and they mentioned that they had trenched the side of the house to work on a basement wall crack! I took a look at the cinder blocks on the side of our house near the ground, and sure enough, I noticed a crack, and some black looking paint covering the entire wall (which I'm sure goes down all the way).

    During closing, I also asked, once again, looking straight in the guys eyes, that if they've ever had any water problems in the basement, and once again, a strong "nope, never had any problems". What a condescending liar he is. Of course I'm going to buy the house, I'm sitting there signing all the papers, why couldn't he just be courteous, and let me know about the history of my basement? It's funny, because the first rain we got after we moved in, I noticed our carpet was wet on the side of the house with the "leak fix". I tore up the carpet to get the mold out, and bought a dehumidifier. Thankfully the basement doesn't smell moldy anymore! But I was *really* wanting to use my trainer downstairs, where it won't bug anybody! Now I'm afraid to, due to sucking in moldy air... but that's besides the fact...

    Anybody have advice? I've contacted my realtor since yesterday, to get in FULL DETAIL on what type of work it was, when it was done, and if there's some type of warranty that can be transferred with the purchase.

    Anybody know how good of a fix the "black paint" is? Is it some type of tar? I did fix a downspout that was torn off in the wind, that sucker is on the side of the house for good now, instead of dumping rain water right near an already bad shape wall. And I've added a window well cover. Since then we haven't had as bad as a rain, and there hasn't been another puddling of water, but I'm not going to assume it's fixed by those 2 "band-aids".

    Should I have posted this on a different forum?
    Last edited by kevmk81; 04-17-09 at 09:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    In CA it is illegal to lie about damage to a home or intentionally omit it from the seller's disclaimer form. Your realtor should know the laws in your state. You can possibly sue the former owner for the repair costs.
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  3. #3
    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
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    You should have recourse to get money from the seller. If the work was done while he owned the house he obviously knew about it, and then lied. That's a no no.

    Get an estimate to figure out the costs to fix it and contact a lawyer.

    You weren't talking to the listing agent, were you?

  4. #4
    Senior Member bikecrate's Avatar
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    I don't know what your laws are, but in these parts home sellers have to sign off that there aren't any known problems with the property they are selling. If there are issues they have to disclose them. Did you check your closing paperwork to see if there is a document like that? If you don't get any satisfaction from the Realtor I'd talk to a lawyer. You may be able to recover funds from the seller to fix the problem. It sounds like a fairly serious issue to me. Water and mold are bad.

    Did you get a home inspection? The home inspector might be on the hook too if he didn't catch it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikecrate View Post
    I don't know what your laws are, but in these parts home sellers have to sign off that there aren't any known problems with the property they are selling. If there are issues they have to disclose them. Did you check your closing paperwork to see if there is a document like that? If you don't get any satisfaction from the Realtor I'd talk to a lawyer. You may be able to recover funds from the seller to fix the problem. It sounds like a fairly serious issue to me. Water and mold are bad.

    Did you get a home inspection? The home inspector might be on the hook too if he didn't catch it.
    That's the thing. There is a statement in the paperwork that the owner "isn't aware of a recurring or current basement leak". I think they had made the fix, and assumed it's ok, therefore they were "legally" able to put a checkmark in the no box in the contract. That's what I'm afraid of... and this guy probably did it himself, he works at a contracting company... so there's no telling how good of quality the "fix" was. I'm calling basement waterproofing folks in my area as I'm typing this... I still am a proud home owner, thety can kiss my a**, I'm happy to be out of apartment living. All I know is, when I sell the home, I'd like the buyer to be fully aware of the history of the house. Hopefully a lawyer isn't needed. My realtor is actually pretty descent, their realtor however, I don't know too much about him. He seems like a tool.

  6. #6
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    If I were in the same situation, I'd contact a professional specializing in sealing foundations that will warranty their work, get an estimate, and have my lawyer send it to the previous owner with the option to either pay for it or go to court.

    As for the quality of the repair...no. Roofing tar is not an adequate sealant for an underground application. It is too soft to seal against that amount of water pressure. If I were fixing it myself I'd use bitrethane, but that can only be applied to a clean and dry surface. Honestly I'd be calling a pro rather than fix it myself...and I'm a contractor.
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  7. #7
    50000 Guatts of power 127.0.0.1's Avatar
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    get a lawyer


    or get ready to pay 15,000 dollars to have your whole foundation dug up and resealed, because
    that is the only sure fire fix. you could strip out the inside and seal from inside--> outside but
    choose your poison....only big effort and big bucks will really fix it
    I like fat bikes
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  8. #8
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    In Illinois it is illegal to withhold that info. The seller will be responsible for ALL permanent repair costs!!!!!

    Talk to your lawyer.....

  9. #9
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    One more thing - all realtors work for the seller, and themselves.

    They never favor the buyer, as it will cut into their commission......

    It's good you brought up the question at closing, as now you have lots of witnesses to their scam.

    All you need is one or more neighbors willing to stand up with truthful statements.

  10. #10
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    In Illinois it is illegal to withhold that info. The seller will be responsible for ALL permanent repair costs!!!!!

    Talk to your lawyer.....
    Don't have one

    Never thought in my lifetime I'd want to hire one either...

  11. #11
    50000 Guatts of power 127.0.0.1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevmk81 View Post
    Don't have one

    Never thought in my lifetime I'd want to hire one either...

    #1 rule in house buying. get a lawyer, for exactly this kind of stuff. worth the retainer fee.

    anyhow, talk to a lawyer and see if they want to work with you on this
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  12. #12
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    In Illinois it is illegal to withhold that info. The seller will be responsible for ALL permanent repair costs!!!!!

    Talk to your lawyer.....
    wut him sed.
    In the past 5 years IVe bought houses in PA, VT and FL.
    Withholding Disclosure info like this is a crime.
    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

  13. #13
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    First, did you have a home inspection, with the sale contingent on the results of the inspection?
    The inspector "should" have noticed the crack/repair, and you could have questioned the seller as to why and when the repair was made.
    Second, a missing or misdirected downspout could have caused your problem. It is the cause of many basement leaks(including mine). The correct direction of your downspouts, and where the runoff goes, is not a bandaid. It's usually a fix to a problem.
    Third, you really can't tell what the black stuff is after the fact, unless the seller tells you what it is, or you pay a water proofing pro to take an educated guess. Plus, you don't know how far down the crack goes, or how far down the repair was made, unless you dig down to the footing, not a pleasant, or cheap task. So it may be a correct, if cheap, repair.
    Forth, you did the right thing with the downspout by securing it to the building, just make sure the water goes away from the building.
    Of course the seller could have told the truth. He didn't have a leak, but would have if the downspout came off. Not a complete lie, but not the truth either. (FWIW, he knew about the issue, and lied about it). I was in my house for 15 years, only had one issue with a wet wall, due to the disconnected downspout, then WHAM one sunday morning after a heavy rain, 6 inches of water in the basement! I didn't have a sump pump, never needed one. We spent a few days tearing out the carpeting from the finished part of the basement, and removing wet furniture, and other stuff. That was after pumping the water out. If took a few weeks of running three dehumifiers 24/7, and watching my electric meter spinning at warp speed, to dry things out so it was usable.

    BTW Do you have a sump pump? Now that you know there is the potential for an indoor pool, have one installed if you don't.

    Good luck with the new house, and hope karma takes care of the guy you bought it from.

  14. #14
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Not to say if there was a permit needed to do the work. With a permit it should be inspected before and after work was done to see how far the damage was, and if it was repaired properly and passed inspection. There should be records at the building permits office in regard to any work that was done at this address. Tell them you are the new buyer and are concerned about ANY work done.
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  15. #15
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
    First, did you have a home inspection, with the sale contingent on the results of the inspection?
    The inspector "should" have noticed the crack/repair, and you could have questioned the seller as to why and when the repair was made.
    With all the home inspectors we've dealt with, seller or buyers, I have come to the conclusion it
    is a business that is rife with incompetence. At least 1/2, which I consider a huge percentage,
    are not qualified to be in the profession. Its too easy to get a license in most states.
    I dont bother with them anymore except on FHA . You can be sure the Home Inspector made
    the buyer sign Doc's not holding them responsible for anything they missed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind View Post
    Not to say if there was a permit needed to do the work. With a permit it should be inspected before and after work was done to see how far the damage was, and if it was repaired properly and passed inspection. There should be records at the building permits office in regard to any work that was done at this address. Tell them you are the new buyer and are concerned about ANY work done.
    ^^^ This
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  16. #16
    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    Good luck getting to the bottom of all this. Get a laywer involved. I just recently bought a house too, and the seller's agent has about 1 week before I start thowing around the L word at them. Thankfully it's nothing nearly as major as you are facing, but they were technically in breech of contract and if they don't get a check to me soon for work done that was supposed to be completed before closing I'm letting the hounds loose on them.

    Also really really thankful that my Realtor really was working for me. As a fellow cyclist and member of my cycling club I knew her well before hiring her as the agent. She went so far as to show us the house we ended up buying 1 week after a major bike crash which shattered her jaw and nose. She had surgery to repair the jaw on Thursday afternoon and was showing us the house 3 days later!
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  17. #17
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    The previous owner should 'fess up, and potentially pay up (via lawyer if necessary) since whether they did the work or not, they had to have had water issues if the carpet got wet the first time it rained...

    Also, I assume you got a home inspection as part of your pre-purchase process. See if part of that included a warrantee of some sort. There may be some legal/ethical responsibility there as well, since a home inspector should be able to see signs of water intrusion... Mine did, even though it was very minor, and he told me not to worry about the little bit he saw, and he told me how he would address it.

  18. #18
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind View Post
    Not to say if there was a permit needed to do the work. With a permit it should be inspected before and after work was done to see how far the damage was, and if it was repaired properly and passed inspection. There should be records at the building permits office in regard to any work that was done at this address. Tell them you are the new buyer and are concerned about ANY work done.
    (and no, I'm not replying to myself, just adding more...)

    If there WAS work done without a permit and it's shoddy, then the seller will have to correct the situation, and be liable for it, done by a licensed professional. He may even be fined for it. If you chose not to have him be involved then you should be able to hire someone at the sellers cost. The building permits office has a list of licensed reputable people that they work with all the time. At least here in Cali they do.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
    First, did you have a home inspection, with the sale contingent on the results of the inspection?
    The inspector "should" have noticed the crack/repair, and you could have questioned the seller as to why and when the repair was made.
    Second, a missing or misdirected downspout could have caused your problem. It is the cause of many basement leaks(including mine). The correct direction of your downspouts, and where the runoff goes, is not a bandaid. It's usually a fix to a problem.
    Third, you really can't tell what the black stuff is after the fact, unless the seller tells you what it is, or you pay a water proofing pro to take an educated guess. Plus, you don't know how far down the crack goes, or how far down the repair was made, unless you dig down to the footing, not a pleasant, or cheap task. So it may be a correct, if cheap, repair.
    Forth, you did the right thing with the downspout by securing it to the building, just make sure the water goes away from the building.
    Of course the seller could have told the truth. He didn't have a leak, but would have if the downspout came off. Not a complete lie, but not the truth either. (FWIW, he knew about the issue, and lied about it). I was in my house for 15 years, only had one issue with a wet wall, due to the disconnected downspout, then WHAM one sunday morning after a heavy rain, 6 inches of water in the basement! I didn't have a sump pump, never needed one. We spent a few days tearing out the carpeting from the finished part of the basement, and removing wet furniture, and other stuff. That was after pumping the water out. If took a few weeks of running three dehumifiers 24/7, and watching my electric meter spinning at warp speed, to dry things out so it was usable.

    BTW Do you have a sump pump? Now that you know there is the potential for an indoor pool, have one installed if you don't.

    Good luck with the new house, and hope karma takes care of the guy you bought it from.
    Yup, we did have an inspection, and the sale was contingent on the results of it. He sure as heck didn't see the crack on the exterior of the wall though.

    And nope, no sump pump... I figure that's one of the estimates I'll get on my appointment I have scheduled for tomorrow.

    And wow, thanks everybody for your replies! It's very helpful!

  20. #20
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind View Post
    If there WAS work done without a permit<snip>
    I don't think permits are required in most areas for work unless major changes are taking place. If all they were doing was waterproofing the basement wall, I wouldn't expect any permits would be necessary in most areas... but this is highly dependent on the state/municipality.

    There is a line somewhere beyond which permits are needed, but I am not sure that it is crossed just by digging... otherwise a permit would be needed to pump septic tanks. Or, just for coating a wall, otherwise a permit would be required any time a person painted their house.



    Also, I just thought I would add to the OP... From my research, and what I was told by my inspector. Other than the B-Dry system or others that cost big bucks, waterproofing is rarely effective in the long term. The most effective way to keep the basement dry is by landscaping... You need to ensure that water is routed away from the house. Make sure that all soil around the house is graded so that the rainwater flows away from the house. If there is a location (based on house location) where it flows toward the house, you should put in a drainage system to move it away.

  21. #21
    Recreational Commuter
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    I dont think anyobody else has said it, but "crack" doesn't mean "wet basement". If you had some soil settlment away from the foundation after the house was finished, there could easily have been a crack in the foundation that never allowed water to infiltrate. If the previous owners caught it and had it handled properly (which I would do before finishing a basement), there would never have been a water problem to lie about, notr should you expect any greater liklihood of one in the future.

    BTDT on our first house.
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  22. #22
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    Attorney time. I've learned in real estate to have a lawyer on retainer through every step of the process, from finding a realtor to looking at the contract, to being present at closing.

  23. #23
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    Hello,
    I'm not gonna tell you to see a lawyer because everyone else already has. As one of the posters above stated though, your problem just might have been solved with the downspout fix. These really are crucial for routing water away from the house.

    I've got a friend thats a contractor and according to him when it comes to water in the basement the golden rule is G & G (gutters and grades). Make sure you have a good grade at the foundation. If you have to, bring in some fill dirt and put a good grade around your foundation. Beteen these two relatively easy fixes you should be able to keep the water away.

    Anyhow good luck to you and congrat's on the new crib....

  24. #24
    Senior Member snowman40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lauren View Post
    this is why you pay to have a house inspected before you buy it. Good luck getting money back from the realtor and/or seller for repairs. You might as well go ahead and find a lawyer now, since the realtor is crooked and has already lied to you.
    +1!!!!!!!!


  25. #25
    Senior Member kevmk81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kotts View Post
    I dont think anyobody else has said it, but "crack" doesn't mean "wet basement". If you had some soil settlment away from the foundation after the house was finished, there could easily have been a crack in the foundation that never allowed water to infiltrate. If the previous owners caught it and had it handled properly (which I would do before finishing a basement), there would never have been a water problem to lie about, notr should you expect any greater liklihood of one in the future.

    BTDT on our first house.
    The neighbors also said that the folks that lived there before the previous owners constantly had leaky basement problems in the house. There has been leak activity down there before the fix.

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