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REAL ESTATE CONTRACTS ARTICLES

Can the Home Builder Keep my Earnest Money?

By Christopher Combs | June 10, 2019

Question: We entered into a contract to purchase a new home in a subdivision in the San Tan area for $300,000. We deposited $30,000 earnest money in escrow. After 45 days while the home was still in the framing stage, my wife decided that she wanted to quit her job and return to school. With only one income we will not be able to afford this new home now, and we want the return of our $30,000 earnest money. Due to strong demand in our subdivision, the homebuilder has just raised the base price for our model home, and the…

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HOA Changes CC&Rs to Prohibit Street Parking

By Christopher Combs | June 6, 2019

Question: When we signed the purchase contract for a new home in Sun City, we were given a copy of the CC&Rs which allowed street parking for up to 24 hours. The day before closing we were given additional documents by the title company, including what we thought was just another copy of the CC&Rs, so we didn’t bother to read these additional documents. In actuality, these additional documents were amended CC&Rs that prohibit any street parking. When our daughter visits us now she has to park at the main entrance to our community and walk to our home. Are…

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Can Landlord and Tenant Create a Maintenance Deal?

By Christopher Combs | April 15, 2019

Question: We are negotiating a one-year lease for a North Phoenix home. The landlord wants us to be responsible for maintaining the heating and air-conditioning systems in the home. The landlord is willing to reduce the rent by $200 per month. Can we agree with the landlord to be responsible for maintaining the home in exchange for this $200 reduction in the rent? Answer: Probably. A landlord is required to maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition.  This requirement includes having to keep all heating and air-conditioning systems in working order.  The landlord and tenant in the rental…

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Can Buyer Back Out of Purchase Contract for Seller’s Breach?

By Christopher Combs | April 8, 2019

Question:  When we purchased our Chandler home, we received the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (“SPDS”). The SPDS did not disclose any prior flood damage or mold. During our 10-day inspection period, our home inspector that did not find any prior flood damage or mold. After the 10-day inspection period had expired, however, we learned from a casual conversation with a neighbor that both the seller’s home and the neighbor’s home had flood damage and mold remediation two years earlier. We now want to cancel the purchase contract and get a refund of our $10,000 earnest money. Can we get our…

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No Commissions Owed Without Proper Documents

By Christopher Combs | February 27, 2019

Question: For several years I have owned a lot in the Wickenburg area that I inherited from my parents. I have been trying to sell this lot since last summer. One of my neighbors is a real estate broker, and he emailed me last week to ask if I would pay him a 5% commission if he found a buyer that would pay $300,000 for this lot. I emailed him back agreeing to his proposal. The next day this real estate broker emailed me a cash offer from a buyer for $300,000, with $25,000 earnest money. In the offer the…

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Termites Found After Home Purchase

By Christopher Combs | February 20, 2019

Question: Shortly after we closed on the purchase of our Tempe home last summer, we noticed termite tunnels in the bathroom. We hired a termite company to treat this termite problem for the cost of $2,800. The termite company told us that our home had previous treatment for termites. In fact, the records at the Structural Pest Control Commission (https://tarf.azda.gov/index.php) that regulates termite companies show that there had been treatment by the seller for termites at our house as recently as the month before closing. The Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement said no termite problems. The sellers now live in New Jersey.…

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Dual Agency in Real Estate Transactions Presents a Problem

By Christopher Combs | February 4, 2019

Question: We listed our North Scottsdale home for sale with a long-time family friend because we trusted her.  A buyer has now signed a purchase contract for our home. This buyer, however, is represented by another real estate broker in the same brokerage firm as our listing agent.  Our listing agent says that she is sorry but she is now a dual agent who represents both us and the buyer.  Although we have signed the purchase contract and a form consenting to dual agency, we are not happy.  How can the same brokerage firm represent both us and the buyer, when…

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Tenants Have Protection in Foreclosures

By Christopher Combs | January 3, 2019

Question: We have been renting a home in Chandler for several years. We just signed another one-year lease. Two nights ago a process server came by and posted a notice of foreclosure in our front yard. Our landlord lives in Chicago and has not returned our phone calls. If our home is sold in foreclosure, when will we have to move? Answer: In general, a federal law protecting tenants in their homes during any foreclosure by the landlord’s mortgage lender has been in effect since 2009, and has been recently renewed with no expiration date. If you are a bona fide…

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