My wife and I bought our first house. A bit of a long story but suffice it
to say that we had very little time to make our decision and were burnt out
when we finally did.
We got the boot from our seven year rental house because the landlords
wanted to move back in. We used up 40 of our sixty days on a house that
didn't pass inspection (and the sellers rejected the inspection). When we
were finally released from the first house we had about a week to choose a
place (we could afford), make the offer, negotiate, close, and move. We
knew we should rent and try to slow things down but couldn't find anything
that would take our four cats.
So, during the final walk through we noticed a couple of cracks in the block
foundation. Our realtor told us we could simply fill the cracks with a
specially formulated epoxy (and gun) and told me where to buy it.
After the closing, we went straight to the place she told up to go and they
looked at me kind of sad like and said, "she doesn't know what she's talking
about, you can't use epoxy for block walls. I felt the dark clouds forming
over my head at that moment. The epoxy supplier gave us a name of a
contractor and he came to the house. He told us not to move in (which was
to happen the very next day), and that we got hosed. Every wall (that we
can see) has several cracks in it (initially hidden by boxes shoved into
closets that were built over the cracked walls). In hind site, we should
have walked away from the place after the final walkthrough but we were lead
to believe that the walkthrough was just a formality and that we were pretty
much locked in to the purchase at that point.
Okay, so the seller's disclosure form claims there are no cracks in the
basement walls, that there are no leakage problems (which there are), and no
material or plumbing defects that would cause leaking water (I had to
completely regrout the tile shower stall to make it usable.
We found the home buying process to be very dishonest and ugly. I thought I
did my homework (my wife said I was obsessed with not getting screwed, which
I was) but here we are.
These folks made a huge profit (enough to retire on) from us and we're
paycheck to paycheck people stuck with a house we would have to lie about to
resell (which we won't do).
So, short of spending 20-30 grand to have the foundation fixed, what can we
do? We don't have (and never will have) that kind of money.
Some folks have told me that many buyers don't really care about cracks in
foundation walls (in a house this age, built in the early sixties), but I
find this hard to believe.
After all we've been through, we would like to sell the place for the price
of the loan and get another rental (at least for a while). I am an educator
and spend my days trying to teach honesty and integrity and this whole
experience affected me deeply. It's not a bad place (other than the
problems described), it's in a good neighborhood, close to a church, and
pretty quiet with very nice neighbors. But still, I want out in a year or
Are there any consumer protection agencies for this sort of thing? There
are plenty of books out there on how to screw people over but nothing for
the person that gets screwed.
Any advice? Should we just chisel out the cracks (steps, horizontal, and
vertical) and fill them with mortar as best we can? I'm a handy guy but
know next to nothing about masonry.
Sorry for the long post and thanks for listening.
What did your home inspector say about the cracks when you had your
home inspection done?
At this point you need to have several people look at it and find out
what is going on. Quit acting like a chicken with your head cut off.
Contractors are like dogs... they can smell fear and charge
If there is actually a problem then go back to your real estate atty
you used in the deal and sue your home inspector, sellers and real
Sorry to hear about your problems. Buying a home is always a stressful
I was not sure when I got done reading your message exactly what was
wrong with the basement and who made the determination.
First all basements have some cracks. You need someone INDEPENDENT to
evaluate them. If you check with a service that fixes them, you are almost
100% sure they will find that it needs to be fixed. Often they don't.
Right now I would suggest two things. Verifying the need for work and
if expensive work is needed, then seek legal advice.
Thanks for the advice and more-so for the understanding. I have never been
through anything this stressfull (and I've had life-threatening illnesses).
As a teacher I try to instill in my students honesty and integrity. I guess
I was just a wee bit out of my element.
As a teacher it great that you try to instill honesty in the students,
However you need to get tehm ready for the real world. There is much
cheating and dishonesty out there.
I don't recall the name of the movie or exectally what was said. It was
Roger Dangerfield going back to college after he was a business man. A
question was asked by the professor about how something was done . After an
answer or two, Roger stood up and said that was all wrong, you had to bribe
the people and basically do a lot of other dishonest things.
The selling agent and if you had a buying agent for the house, neither one
gets paid if they don't sell the house. Many times the inspector is one
recommended by them. He gets paid either way, but if he does not give a
good report, he will not get called very often.
S you ripped out closets on every wall, why, to find cracks you did
not know were there, only a troll does that. Epoxy is used by pros,
mortar mix is also used, the cracks may have occured within the first
year, you dont know. Document it, fix it and move on maybe it will be
I agree with Joseph. It's totally unclear if there is any foundation
problem that needs fixing. Almost every house has some foundation
cracks, which is perfectly normal. The question is how big are the
cracks, how long they run and are they stable or getting worse? In
many older houses, you'll find small cracks that have been there for
decades and aren't getting any worse.
You should have had a home inspection before you bought the house. In
most cases, the inspection winds up free and actually nets you money,
because it uncovers enough defects that you can negotiate off of the
purchase price. Now you should get a competent inspector in to check
out the whole house. Based on what the report says, you can decide
what next steps to take. If there are enough material defects that
were not reflected in the disclosure statement, you could take the
seller to court. Small claims may be appropriate, as it doesn't cost
you anything, so if the potential recovery is modest, that would
probably be the best route.
As far as selling the house and going back to renting, that I don't
understand. The market is in the tank right now. You have a house
that sounds like it's OK except for a couple of potential problems
which you don't know the extent of and would have to disclose to
In the future, don't listen to the real estate agent, who is working
for the seller, about much of anything. Certainly not about
foundation questions. And make sure you have an inspection done
I apologize for the vagueness of my post.
We did use a home inspector. The report stated "above average settling". I
called him and asked him point blank and he said that the house had probably
settled as much as it was going to and that it wasn't an "oh no!" situation.
When I asked him if he would buy this house he said he could loose his
liceance for answering that question.
Some of the cracks are pretty large, a 1/4" or more and run horizontaly the
length of one wall, another verticaly (right through the block) from top to
bottom, several step cracks with varying widths (one I can see daylight
through at the window well), and there is a "T" crack where the wall has
pushed in about a 1/4". This one was hidden by a tall freezer so the
inspector did not see it and "our" real estate agent told me to use the
epoxy. Many of the cracks have been poorly patched, (patches falling out)
and filled with [filler rod?] so they did have knowledge of them.
The basement bath flooded after about an inch of rain. The walls are
finished so I'm not sure what's behind them. I asked the sellers (through
our agents) if the basement stayed dry since we needed it for office space.
The answer was that they had some trouble years ago but that it was fixed.
The market in our area is actually pretty good. We have several booming
industries which keep thiings going. Some houses have been sitting but they
are over priced. I didn't care for the house when we bought it but it was
the only one we could afford in a safe neighborhood. Now I just want to fix
it and get out.
I don't trust home inspectors, is there anybody else I could bring in that
wouldn't have an agenda?
Lastly, do disclosure forms mean anything?
Thanks for all the replies.
OK, I dealt with a foundation problem due to frost heaving due to an inadequate
footer. I know it's scary, but don't panic. Firstly, get an engineer in to
look at the foundation. A couple of things you've just said do sound concerning
- the long wide horizontal crack, the crack through the block, and the repairs
falling out. Which might signal a lot of hydrostatic pressure and that there's
But the good news is - you're in a disclosure state it sounds like - you can
pursue this through a lawyer. And the house isn't going to fall down tomorrow.
It's still a house for the living in while you decide what to do, cracks or no
You're in, the deal's done; you'll need to either disclose and lose on the sale
if you move, or you fix the problem. Don't make any decisions about this until
you have explored the avenues and know the facts. After all, once you address
the problem, it's addressed, and the attributes that the house has that you
bought it for - its location, etc., will still be there. So I don't think it
makes sense to just sell out quickly.
Thanks for advice. Will an engineer overstate the matter? When the
contactor looked at it he told us "not to move in". Scared the heck out of
I'll call around this week and check prices. Until then, I have a friend's
husband coming out to take a look. He runs a remodeling business. I
realize he's not an expert but he is someone I can trust.
It's important to me that everyone here knows that I didn't jump into this
purchase with my eyes closed. I spent long hours doing research, looked at
about sixty homes (fifteen or so I toured), tons of time researching
financing, etc. I was naive enough, however, to think that if I paid
someone $300 they would tell me the truth and not sugarcoat the facts. Our
inspector said he was known as a "deal breaker", which is why we hired him.
During the post-inspection walk through, however, he didn't have that much
to say. I told my real estate agent not to come but she showed up anyway.
This seemed to make him uncomfortable. He also seemed tired.
As far as selling not making sense...I'm jaded I guess. My wife doesn't
like the house and I feel like I'm getting burned and just want to pull my
hand out of the fire. Emotional, I know. that's why I'm waiting until
summer. I'll see how I feel about it then. But for right now I need a
goal, something to look forward to.
Although I suffer from chronic pain, I've never been over-emotional.....well
until now, lol.
Thanks for all the help everyone.
You keep saying "my" agent. Did you sign a contract with this agent
to represent you? Or did this agent get a commission on the sale of
the house? This agent certainly did not act in your interest, so it
is important that you know who the agent was obligated to serve, you
or the seller.
How did this agent know when the inspection was going to occur? Who
paid the inspector? Did you call the inspector afterward, privately?
I'm sorry to hear that.
This *buyer's agent* - in essence did not work for you, but for the
listing Realtor. She reeled in the buyer and got her commission/fee.
She is not most likely licensed.. and I suspect your urgency to get
into this house from a rental contributed to this.
Always have your own state licensed agent or attorney and a contract.
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