Ask Gary Landau

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Question: I am selling my house “as is.” The buyers hired an inspector who found all kinds of needed repairs. Do I have to make them?

Answer: A typical “as is” contract gives buyers the right to hire an inspector who must perform his inspection within a certain number of days from the contract’s signing. (You must still disclose to the buyers major defects you know about before the contract is even signed.) It also allows the buyers to back out of the deal by sending the seller notice in writing within a short period if they are unhappy with what the inspector discovers. So if your contract defined the sale as “as is,” you are not legally obligated to make the repairs. However, if the buyers feel there are too many fixes needed for them to go forward, you may want to renegotiate the terms of the contract. You could agree, for example, to make some of the repairs or to credit the buyer for having to make them after closing. Or you could decide to hold your ground, letting the buyers choose if they want the house in this condition. Although “as is” contracts have become quite popular in South Florida strong seller’s market of the past year, as the tide shifts more to buyers we may see a return to “repair clauses,” where sellers agree to fix flagged items up to a certain percent of the sales price, typically two percent.

Question: My mother is elderly and owns her own home. Can I get a document to sell her house later if she becomes ill?

Answer: If your mother agrees that she would like to give you the authority to take care of her legal affairs when she can no longer do so, a lawyer can draft a power of attorney with specific language that will enable you to later sell her home. Be sure the lawyer knows exactly what your mother wants to do because not all powers of attorney would allow you to handle all parts of a real estate sale.

Question: I was looking over the deed to my house and noticed it has my social security number on it. Isn’t this available for anyone to see?

Answer: Absolutely. In this age of identity theft, it is critical that your social security number not remain on the recorded version of this document, which is easily available to anyone online. A 2002 law prohibited closing agents from putting the number on newer documents. But if you have an older deed, I recommend that you check that deed at the county records website (in Broward, it is If you find your social security number is listed, you can download a request form and send it to the county recorder who will have the number removed at no fee.

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