Can I sue for legal fees?

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Latest post 02-27-2011 11:25 AM by bbroders. 10 replies.
  • 02-25-2011 6:01 PM

    • bbroders
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 02-25-2011
    • NJ
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    Can I sue for legal fees?

    We just received news that our real estate transaction is going to fall through because the buyers of our house came back extremely un-realistic inspection requests.  They have basically asked us to lower our price by 30k, fix various issues as well as provide them an additional 65k for things they want to fix on their own.  To us is obvious that they just want out of the deal and this is their way to make us break the contract (which we obviously have to do).  The unfortunate part is their arrogance and delays for inspection (3 weeks to perform and respond) has cost us the house that we wanted to buy.  I'm obviously very upset and not thinking entirely straight, but I was wondering if I could at least threaten suit against them in order to recover the lawyer bill that will no doubt come my way.  I took a leap of faith on this young couple and they kicked me in the shins, I just can't stand having to pay for the legal fees as well (even though I acknowledge that my lawyer should be paid).  VERY FRUSTRATED!

  • 02-25-2011 6:53 PM In reply to

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    I understand your frustration, but it seems to me, unless there's something they did wrong, other than to be frustrating, I don't see how you could hope to sue them and win.  Sure you can threaten to sue them, and you can even do just that if you like.  But what exactly did they do that wasn't within your agreement?

    They made an offer on the house.  They had the house inspected.  They didn't like the results, and counter offered.  I have no idea if was unreasonable or not, but don't they have the right to do that?

    Do you think they made an offer on your house, paid for an inspection, all just to frustrate you?

     

     

  • 02-25-2011 7:10 PM In reply to

    • bbroders
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    • Joined on 02-25-2011
    • NJ
    • Posts 4

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    Initially I feel that had every intention of purchasing the house, but for what ever reason they quickly got cold feet.  There was evidence of this during attorney review.  After attorney review, there continued to be unexplained delays of the inspection (they canceled last minute 2 times).  Rather than just backing out during attorney review, for some reason they stayed in even though their heart appeared not to be in it.  The frustration is that all this wavering cost me three extra weeks in which I could have had my house on the market and possibly sold to someone else.  It just seems wrong that someone can basically say what ever they want after an inspection to kill a deal (I don't care what shape a house is in 100k off on a 400k house is ridiculous especially when the appraisal came in at 450k)  I always thought inspections were to protect them from hazardous or structural issues, not a way to kill the deal if you have cold feet.  Now that the house I was going to purchase is gone all I have to show for this whole event is lawyer bills.

  • 02-25-2011 7:17 PM In reply to

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    I seriously doubt that you have anything to sue for that you could possibly win.

    Regardless of your feelings the buyer was contractually entitled to find the defects (no matter what they were) ask you to fix them and ask for a price reduction or both.

    As for the house you think you "lost", unless you could have bought it without having to sell your house, then you never had it to lose it.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 02-25-2011 8:11 PM In reply to

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    bbroders:
    I'm obviously very upset and not thinking entirely straight, but I was wondering if I could at least threaten suit against them in order to recover the lawyer bill that will no doubt come my way. 

    You cannot recover attorney's fees in a breach of contract claim unless the contract itself provides for that. So read the contract and see what it says.

  • 02-25-2011 9:10 PM In reply to

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    I don't really understand or know, what legal fees did you have because of this? Regardless, you really can't very well expect the potential purchaser of your house to pay for whatever problems resulted for you because they did not purchase your house. You could be claiming basically anything really, that resulted because they didn't buy your house, and then demanding they pay you for what could have been. So far as I know, life just does not work like that. They planned to buy your house. You planned to buy another house. It didn't work out. I can't even begin to imagine a world where they owe you for whatever plans you might have been dreaming about, based on the sale of your house. Unless they somehow broke your agreement with them, what would you be suing for? Until you have actually sold your house, there are usually many ways the deal can fall through. Maybe they could not get the financing, maybe the inspection comes back and the buyer is unhappy, etc etc etc. It's really just life I think, and you will need to deal with it. I am sorry.
  • 02-25-2011 11:28 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,165

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    You are missing several critical details

    1. What was the time limit in the contract for inspection and report  (and did you unwisely extend it) ?  In short if the time window expired  then it matters not  what the inspection report provided --that by itself is NOT a valid exit criteria.

    2. You did get a hefty deposit did you not--and your contract withbroker says you personally, no split,  get to keep deposit if buyer defaults?

    3. Buyer may or may not have blown the time frame of the finance contingency clause.

    4. Next time be sure to get a hefty deposit--and if buyer wants an extension--you want more deposit and fewer escape hatches.

    5. Seriouslymake sure you get deposit if buyer defauts--many contracts writtten by brokers say they get a cut even if they fail to produce a buyer who closes, they get a cut if a wam mushroom signs!   I modify the contracts before I sign them or else I walk.



  • 02-26-2011 12:52 AM In reply to

    • bbroders
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 02-25-2011
    • NJ
    • Posts 4

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    It's obvious that my emotions got the best of me and that I have no legal recourse to sue for the lawyer fees I have to shell out for this "non-sale".  The people that intended to purchase my house got cold feet and IMO used the inspection as a medium to get out of it, rather than doing so from the get go and saving us 3 precious weeks for real estate open houses.  Even thought I'm insulted by their written requests, emotions should not have come into it.  It's difficult to see you wife and kids devastated by such news, especially when there is a chance it could have been prevented.  Thanks to you all for your sage advise!

  • 02-26-2011 10:30 AM In reply to

    • LG81
      Consumer
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-03-2010
    • Posts 4,338

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    Your situation certainly must not have been any fun, and it sucks to miss the opportunity on the house you wanted.   You probably already knnow this, but just in case, I will share some advice we received the first time we were ready to buy a home.  That advice was to avoid getting emotionally attached to one particular home.  Things can happen.  Plus, when really attached to a particular home, it may lessen objectivity and decrease your bargaining power.  It can cause someone to overlook things they ordinarily wouldn't.

  • 02-27-2011 12:08 AM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,165

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    You didn't answer if:

    1. You got a hefty  deposit.

    2 The inspection report and exercise of options covered by it was done  timely inside of the time frame in contract.



  • 02-27-2011 11:25 AM In reply to

    • bbroders
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 02-25-2011
    • NJ
    • Posts 4

    Re: Can I sue for legal fees?

    Unfortunately No.  There is a little bit more to the original story that I left out b\c it was not part of this question.  This all stemmed from us find an ideal house, for us, and putting a bid in on a whim.  It was accepted, however we had a condition based on the sale of our house.  To protect himself the builder who was selling us the new house asked to continue to be able show the house and gave us a 48 hour right of first refusal.  Because of all these contingencies we needed to sell as quick as possible and we considered ourselves fortunate to get a realistic bid on the first weekend it was shown.  They are a young couple and I would not consider their overall bid to be extremely strong but times are tough, they had a pre-approved mortgage, their agent knew them for many years, and we need to act fast.  The deposit was low, and their total down payment was only 15k on a 430k purchase.  Again I don't blame them for backing out, I just think the methods they used were underhanded and the delays they caused cost us a chance at the new house because the builder received a full cash deal and I'm not willing to carry two mortgages.  As far as I know, the inspection eventually was conducted within an acceptable time frame it's just that our windows was so small and the 3 lost weeks killed any chance of getting back on the market and getting lucky. My original question stemmed from frustration and most people around us (non-experts) saying that it did not seem right to have to fork our money to the lawyer because of their disregard.  My post to this forum just clarified that, even though it sucks, I don't really have a leg to stand on even though I have seen people file suit for much less.  What's done is done!

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