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Skunks! after closing

Discussion in 'Buying & Selling a Home or Residence' started by jfm617, Dec 23, 2020.

  1. jfm617

    jfm617 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    Hello

    I recently closed on a property in Massachusetts.
    On final walkthrough - the house had a strange odor and was ripe with mothballs - but wife and I and our realtor wrote this off to strong cleaning supplies.

    After closing it has come to our attention that the owner knew that they had a skunk problem and that is what was being hidden by the scents, mothballs, etc that obscured the smell.

    Based on a couple of wildlife experts - sounds like we have a dead skunk under a room that has no access.
    The house smells terrible at this point and this is preventing us from moving in.
    Sounds like my next steps are to tear up a floor to uearth the critter and get rid of it - and then start the cleaning process from there.

    I'm wanting to know what options we have here to go after either the previous owner or the realtor representing the seller.

    A few other notes:
    1 A home handyman that used to work for previous owner stopped by offering to plow our driveway - talked to him for a while and he indicated that the owner knew about the skunks at closing as he was at the house a day or so prior.
    1.A There is no clear indication that the sellers raltor knew of the skunks
    2 A side issue that may come into play here - the sellers realtor indicated that the seller also paid 30,000 for repairs to a barn behind the main house
    2.A the same handyman has indicated that he was the one who performed the work on the barn and while I do ot have a nuber from him yet I'm fairly certain based on conversatins with him that he was not paid 30,000 for this repair.

    It is my understanding that in Massachusetts a seller is not required to disclose this information (so while crappy thing to do - not illegal).
    It is also my understanding that in Massachusetts that a sellers realtor is required to disclose information that would influence a buyer's decision to purchase the property.



    A few questions along with request for advice?
    Is there a case here for the skunks against either the realtor or the seller?
    If so who and what is the premise?

    Regarding the $30,000 repair indicated by the sellers realtor. Assuming I can get an indication from the handyman that he was not paid near that amount - what options are there to go after the realtor for either the difference paid, triple damages?

    Is there any case here for additional costs or losses? Home repairs as a result of skunks, additional home repairs to barn since it was under completed? pain or distress from not being able to move into house?
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    1 - You inspected the house. By "you" I mean your and/or your inspector. You were aware of strange smells and wrote it off to strong chemicals instead of investigating further.

    2 - You presumably inspected the barn and its condition was acceptable to you. You apparently raised no issues. Whether the previous owner spent 30,000 or 3000 or 300 on it is irrelevant now because you could have insisted on documentation of the work during the inspection period. But you didn't.

    Real estate contracts give a buyer ample opportunity to discover a property's warts (visible or otherwise) during escrow by conducting thorough inspections and not relying on what is "told" without verifying what is "told."

    I suggest you talk to a lawyer and review your options. The reality is that you are unlikely to recover any money from anybody.
     
  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Never trust anyone but yourself or professionals you employ to represent your interests, as in ATTORNEYS, INSPECTORS, etc.

    Never buy real estate without retaining the services of an attorney practicing real estate law.

    Never rely on anything the seller or any of her/his representatives (most often masquerading/operating as a real estate broker/salesperson).

    Never allow the seller to rush your decision, after all it is your money someone is trying to hustle.

    If you THINK something is amiss, TRUST your instincts and RUN, don't walk away.

    If the odor you're sniffing appears to be foul, trust your schnozzle.
     
  4. jfm617

    jfm617 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Understand your response - and thanks

    1. The inspection unearthed several concerns - most of which we were willing to live with - the skunk smell was not present at inspection and while there was an odor at final walkthrough - it was so heavily masked in cleaners, scents, and mothballs - so that it was not detectable as a skunk odor - obviously an attempt (successfully) was made to cover the smell.

    2. While the barn was partially fixed (at a supposed cost of 30,000) and at that price point should have corrected all issue - the reality came to light after closing that the price paid was substantially less. Agree - we should have done more due diligence - was just looking for some advice - so thanks!
     
  5. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    The $30,000 thing is an entire red herring. It has no meaning to anything.

    You have little option on this point but to find the source of the smell in the house and correct it. If it turns out that you can show that the seller intentionally masked a known issue, then you might have a claim. Once you know what the REAL issue is and the REAL cost to abate, then you can contact an attorney.
     
  6. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    A dead skunk doesn't smell like skunk spray. It smells like any other dead rotting animal. And skunks don't spray in their dens. Sounds like you have a rotting dead animal but you can't say it's a skunk.
     
  7. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    The animal got under the house somehow. Somewhere there is access to get it out.

    Regarding the barn, the handyman may not have been paid 30k but that doen't mean 30k was not spent. Consider cost of materials and that other contractors may have been involved.
     
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