Buying or Selling a Home/Who fixes the leak?


I am purchasing a condo, the homeowners association is responsible for fixing roof leaks. Upon inspection by me, we saw a stain in the closet ceiling from a water leak. We asked the owner about it and they never noticed it, so they fixed the ceiling. The realtor told me to ask the property management company if a leak had ever been reported, they said no. I signed a contract and it is "as is" in Florida, after the inspection period has ended. So now they tell me they are not responsible for damage from the leak. we are set to close on Dec 5th. Wasn't the homeowner required to notify the HOA to come and repair the leak, since they are responsible to fix it?

ANSWER: Hey, Susan.

If the homeowner never noticed the stain, then they would not have reported a leak.

If the property management company said that a leak had never been reported, then that's that.


Roof repairs almost always are the HOA's responsibility, and it really doesn't matter when the problem was detected. You should be able to report a problem TODAY and they should be out within a day or two to check on the problem. If they find an active problem, they should fix it.

An exception to the stain on the ceiling situation is when there is an attic between the ceiling and the roof because sometimes plumbing pipes and cooling linesets run through the attic, and they leak. Those types of leaks and any damage would be the owner's responsibility.

The HOA would be correct that they are not responsible for interior damage from a roof leak, which is why everyone needs home owner's insurance, even condo owners. But I'm confused because you said that the owner fixed the ceiling, which would seem to indicate they fixed the damage from the leak. Are you saying that after the owner repairs, there are more stains and damage?

Still, though, have the HOA inspect the roof, especially over the area where the stain was noticed.

Notwithstanding all of that, the owner might have been negligent in fulfilling his responsibilities while the house is under contract for sale by not notifying the HOA about a possible roof leak. Since you still have almost two weeks before close of escrow, contact a good real estate attorney. Almost all attorneys provide a 30-60 minute free consultation, so take all of your contract papers, documentation of all your contacts with the owner and the HOA, and the HOA covenants/deeds/restrictions.

There are ways to postpone escrow even after the inspection period has ended to ensure your satisfaction. That's why there is a "final walkthrough." Get your Realtor working on your behalf; that's what s/he is getting a commission to do.

Hope that helps.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: My realtor does not seem to be representing my interests. I too wondered about the final walkthrough She said too late-here are her comments-Susan, remember I asked the listing agent in the beginning to ask the owners about the leak and they said they didn't know anything about it.  I don't think they were even aware of the stain. It has been repaired and like I said, we can go back and check it out-

, you are way beyond the time for your inspections to be done.  You could have had a professional inspect it but you chose to not do so.  Once the inspection period is over you are accepting the property in it's "as is" condition.  The seller repaired the stain and crack as you requested.  Their obligation is over, per the contract.

I called the HOA and they agreed to come and inspect the roof-why did I have to do that and not the owner?

Here is my realtors response-to the HOA inspecting the roof. The unit is empty--I will have to get permission.  I'm not the listing agent and we are past the inspection period

Hey, Susan.

It's not unusual for Realtors to quit representing your interests as they get closer and closer to getting that commission check. Sad, but true, based on my 48 years in real estate.

I don't know what state you are in but I will disagree with your Realtor in saying that "once the inspection period is over you are accepting the property in its as is condition." No, you're not. Again, that's the purpose of the final walk-through.

For example, let's say that no one had noticed the stain and crack until that final walk-through. You would have been perfectly within your contract rights to postpone escrow and have that problem fixed, unless your contract did not provide for a final walk-through and such. Since I don't now what state you're in, I don't know what your state's standard purchase contract says. I also don't know what your purchase contract says since your Realtor could have check a box, or left a box unchecked, and you signed it without knowing what those checks and unchecks meant to you. That's why it is important to have a Realtor who is representing you and your interests, all the time!

A Realtor representing you would have said, "Let's extend the inspection period until we have resolved the issue with the stain, crack, and roof inspection by the HOA." Doesn't sound like your Realtor did that, so you might have a case against your Realtor for incompetence. Again, depending on your state.

The reason why you had to call the HOA is because you are buying the condo. Sellers don't give a flip about anything because they are selling the house. They should, of course, because caring actually makes for a less contentious escrow, but Sellers don't see that.

Your Realtor has permission to get into the unit. It's called "Realtor." Every state in the nation provides Realtors with that privilege by default. Now that is presuming that there is a lockbox of some sort on the unit. There might not be if you're close to closing escrow since the Listing Agent might have removed it after the inspection period was over.

Nonetheless, the HOA is doing their job by going out to inspect the roof, and since the Sellers repaired the inside ceiling, you should be alright. I wouldn't give your Realtor any glowing remarks or referrals though.


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Russel Ray


Through home inspections, I provide an education about real estate. I'm one of those rare home inspectors who has been involved in real estate in many different capacities: as a Realtor (in Texas), as a property investor/flipper, as a teacher, and as a marketing expert (for Realtors and home inspectors). I believe that my experience as a Realtor and property investor provides me with a different viewpoint about home inspections in that I work for my Clients, but when there are other people involved in helping my Clients, then I firmly believe in helping them, too. That includes Realtors (both the seller's and the buyer's), repair professionals (e.g., plumbers, electricians, etc.). If I can get all the players (seller, seller's Realtor, buyer, buyer's Realtor, and repair professionals) playing in the same sandbox together to accomplish goals as a TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More), then I believe I have succeeded in my job as a home inspector. My profession is, in my opinion, much more than simply documenting the condition of a property and then take the money and run. I am also a rare breed in that I don't believe that one inspection fits the needs of all Clients, and I have led the industry in understanding that fact. For example, the goals of a property investor are far different than the goals of someone buying a property to live in. The goals of a seller (a pre-listing inspection) are far different than the goals of a buyer (a pre-purchase inspection). To that end, I offer 14 different types of inspections, e.g., STANDARD, LIST, RENTER, BASIC, MAINTENANCE, SPOT, and more. I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt to all professionals in whatever industry they represent until they prove me wrong.


Over 42 years in all aspects of real estate--building homes, renovating homes, inspecting homes, Realtor.

National Association of Certified Home Inspector, Better Business Bureau of San Diego

Graduate of Texas A&M University; College Station, Texas

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