Dual Agency Dilemma #14

[Note to Readers: The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway, or any other entity referenced.  If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.]

Never having represented both the Buyer and Seller in the same transaction (I consider it a classic conflict of interest), one of the questions I have for agents who do act as dual agents is, “How do you navigate things like the Buyer’s walk-thru inspection?

Provided for in the standard Minnesota Purchase Agreement, the walk-thru is when Buyers go through the (hopefully) now-vacant home just before closing.

The usual checklist: 1) verifying that there are no changes in the home’s condition since the inspection (and that the 3″ deluge the night before didn’t flood the basement); 2) making sure that the home has been left reasonably clean, and that there’s been no move-out damage; 3) that any personal property that’s supposed to be in the home is there — and anything that was supposed to be removed (e.g., old paint cans) is; and 4) if the earlier Buyer’s inspection resulted in any Seller-required repairs, making sure that they’ve been completed (it’s the title company’s job to check on lien waivers).

But, what if the Buyer doesn’t ask (or even know) to do the walk-thru Inspection?

“Trust But Verify”; Different Agendas

As a listing agent exclusively representing the Seller, I know what I do: keep my mouth shut.

If the Buyer doesn’t know about their right to do a walk-thru, and their agent doesn’t remind them, they’re deemed to waive that right.

What’s the consequence?

In most cases, little or none.

However, if the Buyer-now-Owner does discover an issue post-closing, the burden is now on them to prove that the problem didn’t simply arise after closing (Sellers’ typical defense).

Seller Duty to Update

But, don’t Sellers have a duty to update their Disclosure through closing? (you ask).

Yes, at least in Minnesota.

But, if they’ve already moved out, are elderly, etc. they may not be aware of any late-arising issues . . .

See also: What if the Seller Isn’t Moved Out Before Closing?“; “Walk-Thru?  What’s a Walk-Thru??”; “Home Buyer’s Final Walk-Through Inspection“; “What if the Seller Isn’t Moved Out by Closing?“; “Springing a Leak ” or a Lake(?!?) ” Before Closing“; and “Waiting to Do the Walk-Thru Inspection ” or Not Doing it at All.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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