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First-Time Homebuyer Learns Water Is the Enemy

: Richard Montgomery on

Dear Monty: We purchased our home nine months ago. We were told we would need some backfill because the backyard had a slight bowl. Nothing was mentioned about water. Since then, we have had lots of water in the basement, and some concrete is crumbling. I have a scheduled waterproofing. I should have questioned it before, but it is the rainy season, so it is now apparent. Can I do anything, or is it too late?

Monty's Answer: Water is the enemy of a home, both inside and outside. You need more information to make an informed decision. Either you needed to pay better attention, the water intrusion and crumbling concrete was concealed or you placed too much trust in your agent (or the seller if it was a for-sale-by-owner). I also assume you are a first-time homebuyer.

Did the waterproofing company comment on the crumbling concrete? Did you share what you were told when you bought the house with the waterproofing contractor? Did you obtain multiple estimates and opinions on how to correct the problem? You may be destroying evidence by fixing it now if you intend to "do something about it." Consider pausing the waterproofing. I also recommend you consult with an attorney before you take any action. Another option is to go directly to the seller. An attorney may have advice about what to say and what not to say.

Additionally, consider securing two additional repair estimates. Additional estimates will have different prices and may also offer optional solutions to solve the problem. For example, a French drain may be a better option than waterproofing.

Your description suggests you waived the home inspection and did not receive a seller condition report. You may have learned there was a water problem had you received these two documents. Suppose you did have an inspection and seller condition report that did not reveal water intrusion. In that case, it suggests that either the seller did not disclose the problem, the seller hid it from the agent or the agent and the seller together did not disclose it. In some regional markets with high demand and multiple offers, homebuyers are waiving these documents to increase the chance that the seller will choose their offer over others.


Waiving a home inspection is not the best solution when competing in a heated market. For the seller, not having an inspection adds to their liability if a problem is discovered later. A home inspection before it hits the market is handing the liability to the inspector. For the buyer, no home inspection means an added risk that a discoverable and expensive problem went undetected. Your situation may be a prime example.



Once you have gathered the recommended information, you are in an informed position to decide how to proceed. First, accept the remediation choice that you believe will stop the water intrusion. Engage that contractor employing the suggestions above and complete the work. Having done so, here are the most logical choices:

No. 1: Consider the matter closed.

No. 2: Go to the seller to negotiate a cash contribution, having first sought a legal opinion.

No. 3: Go to the seller to negotiate a cash contribution without first seeking a legal opinion.

Richard Montgomery is a syndicated columnist, published author, retired real estate executive, serial entrepreneur and the founder of DearMonty.com and PropBox, Inc. He provides consumers with options to real estate issues. Follow him on Twitter(X) @dearmonty or DearsMonty.com.


Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate, Inc.




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