It happens more than you think

When you have sold your home and an appliance what?


You’ve packed up every box.  The pictures are off the walls and the rooms are empty.  The closing is just a few days away and you do a last check around the house only to find out your dishwasher isn’t working!  What?  Are you kidding me?

 It happens more than you may think.  I’ve seen a few doozie’s over the years, and it never seems to fail that right before closing, it konks out.  

The Dishwasher Dilemma

We have a May 1st closing.  Everything is going ok, but we have a dishwasher that has been acting up.  Back in February, Steve calls the repair service.  They come out and fix the motor, but in testing the unit, they accidentally blow the mother board.  Argh!

The part is ordered in early February and that should be the end of the story….but no.  As we approach closing, Steve follows up with the repair company and they have no idea when it will be in and certainly not before closing.  Now what?

The Options

You are responsible to ensure all of the appliances, that were included in the offer, are in good working order on closing.  If an appliance breaks down while you still own the home, you will need to repair or replace it with a working appliance and it will need to be of similar quality to the one being replaced.

The best option if the stars align; replace the broken appliance with a new one, have it installed by a professional and provide a receipt for the work completed to the buyer via your lawyer and real estate agent.  In my experience, the stars don’t align that way.

What are your other options?

  1. Speak with your real estate agent.  Possibly, we can assign a value to the item that would be acceptable to the buyer.  Your lawyer would then adjust the agreed to amount on the Statement of Adjustments.
  2. If the buyer will not accept the amount you are willing to pay, you could arrange a hold back of funds for a period of time after closing to give you time to correct the problem.  If you are not able to fix the issue in time, the money would go to he buyer to cover the costs to replace the appliance.  If you are able to to correct the problem, the money is returned to you.

Worst Case Scenario

If the buyer will not accept either of the above options, the transaction will close but with either the buyer closing under under protest or you have to pay the demanded amount under protest.  After closing, you (or they) will have the option to register an objection and sue in Small Claims Court.


Small Claims Court

At the time of writing this article, Small Claims Court handles disputes $35,000 and under.

The cost to file a claim are:

  • $108 for filing a claim
  • $94 for filing of a request for default judgement
  • $308 for setting a date for a trial or an assessment hearing
  • $127 for filing a Notice of Motion for an Assessment in Writing 
  • For more information about Small Claims Court, visit their website. 

These situations are never easy and every one will be handled differently.  Buyers, sellers and lawyers all have different expectations so we can not predict what will happen.  There are those that won’t bother with suing after the fact due to the costs and time required and there are others who will sue just for the sake of suing.  There are buyers who are going to renovate or already have an appliance they are bringing with them.  They may not worry at all about it, or accept a negotiated abatement.  What I know for sure is…appliances break down at the worst time possible.

What did Steve do?

We offered a generous amount for a 6 year old dishwasher and the buyer accepted.  The lawyer took care of the credit on the Statement of Adjustments and the house closed with everyone satisfied with the result.  No one is delighted; the seller is upset with paying for a part that won’t be used and the buyer doesn’t have a working dishwasher in the house.  But everyone understood that shit happens and satisfied is better than angry.

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