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Real Estate Matters: Buyers hang hat on technicalities of the contract. Is the seller out of luck?

Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin, Tribune Content Agency on

Q: I am the designated power of attorney for my husband, who is a firefighter. He was exposed to chemicals at a gas station explosion, had a severe reaction, and I have been taking care of him since 2016 because he now has early onset Alzheimer’s, encephalopathy and Parkinson’s.

His care has been getting expensive, so I thought I would sell our home to raise money to help care for him. I put him in an assisted living facility a few weeks ago, so I could start packing and move to a home I was trying to close on by mid-September.

On Sept. 1, the assisted living facility called and said they had residents who had contracted COVID-19, so I went to pick him up and bring him home because he was still healthy. During the three-hour ride home, he was moaning in pain, so I called the assisted living facility several times to ask what had happened to him. Finally, they admitted that they had dropped him on the bathroom tile that morning, didn’t take him for evaluation, and never told me.

I took him to the ER, where it was determined he had a broken hip and needed emergency surgery and extensive rehab. He will never walk again and is now wheelchair bound.

When I called my agent about the house I was buying to say I would be delayed for an unknown amount of time, he told me to just back out of the deal because it wouldn’t be fair to the sellers. He asked the sellers if they wanted to wait and they declined, so we terminated the contract and I lost my $2,500 deposit.

I also asked the agent who is listing my home to stop the sale because I am simply not able to sell and care for my husband, and pack and find a home that will accommodate my husband’s new, profound level of disability. And my current home is fully accessible.

 

The buyers have said they will not let me out of contract and will force me to sell in the middle of the month, leaving me homeless and without a place to bring my husband when he is released from the hospital.

I contacted a lawyer. He said my listing agent made a series of errors and omissions and she should have added a contingency to the agreement that my sale was based on having closed on another home, especially since when I listed my house, I told her I was under extreme duress and felt my only recourse to secure my husband’s future was to sell the property.

My attorney wants to address the fact that the agent didn’t have my best interest by providing a contingency, but I am just plain scared. My husband is currently in the hospital and he will go to rehab. But with the advanced dementia and extensive new disability, I don’t know where he will go from there. I could have significantly higher expenses if he were forced into a nursing home.

The buyers say because I am the designated power of attorney and I am not sick they can force the sale. I have asked them to let me out of the contract because everything is happening faster than I can manage. I feel like I was not even in the right frame of mind to enter a listing contract, as I have been caring non-stop for my husband, and because of the pandemic I have had no access to help.

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