Question: We recently signed a Purchase and Sale agreement to sell our house, and are closing in a couple of weeks.  We incurred substantial water damage over the past few days.  Do we have to fix this damage or file an insurance claim before the closing?

Answer: Fix your water damage as soon as possible, as you bear the responsibility until you actually close on your sale.  Your contract obligates you to deliver the property in the same physical condition as when you signed.  This makes you responsible to fix any new damages that arise in the interim.  Of course, reasonable wear and tear is excepted.  If the damage is great enough to warrant an insurance claim, you must start this process and assign your interest in any benefits to the buyer at closing.

Your buyer will conduct a final walk through of the home shortly before closing to inspect for new damages.  If you do nothing and your buyer discovers the damage he or she can legally refuse to close.  Most likely, your buyer will demand an appropriate credit or hold back money to repair the damage.  You can bet this alternative will be more costly than making the repairs or filing the insurance claim yourself.

Buyers who are purchasing property in the coming weeks should request a home visit, this weekend, to inspect for leaks and damage caused by recent weather.  Early detection will keep costs low and benefit you in negotiating with your seller. So instead of making a claim, manually or hire someone to fix your water damage ASAP.

Attorney James Haroutunian is a Billerica native who runs the Haroutunian Law Office at 790 Boston Road specializing in real estate law, estate planning and small business matters. You can contact us via cell phone at 978-671-0711,,, or by email at

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