Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary M. Singer writes about the housing market at SunSentinel.com/housekeys each Friday. To ask him a question, click here.
Q: I am under contract to buy a new home, and the closing is several weeks away. During some nasty weather, the house was struck by lightning. I am concerned about what this has done to the house. What should I do? — Stu
A: The first step is to consult your contract, looking at the part titled “Risk of Loss” to see what your rights are.
The typical contract will contain a clause that says if the cost of repair is minor, such as less than 1.5 percent of the purchase price, the seller is obligated to fix it, and the closing should take place as scheduled.
If the cost of restoration is more than the 1.5 percent, the buyer can either choose to take the property as-is — along with a credit for the 1.5 percent — or cancel the contract and get the deposit money back.
In your situation, you will want to look at the damage to see if it is more than the small amount allowed in the contract.
If there’s major damage — a hole in the roof or a bedroom burned out — see if the seller will agree to the cancellation without the trouble of getting a repair quote. If the damage seems minor, you still should hire a home inspector and an electrician to make sure there are no hidden issues.