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Who's responsible to fix storm damage to a home under contract?

If your home is under contract and a storm hits, you might be wondering who's on the hook to fix the damage.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hurricane Ian destroyed hundreds of homes in its path, leaving a trail of destruction from Florida's Gulf coast to the Carolinas. 

No matter how much you prepare, a hurricane or severe weather can damage your home with high winds, flooding and tornadoes. But if your house is under contract, who's on the hook to fix the damage?

WCNC Charlotte's VERIFY team received multiple questions about storm damage and how it pertains to homes that are for sale.

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The Question

If you have a home under contract that was damaged, who is responsible for the repairs? 

Our Sources

David Hoffman, president of Hoffman Realty

Attorney John Wait, a partner at Martin and Gifford, PLLC

The Answer

Until the home officially switches hands, the seller is responsible under most contracts. 

What We Found

Hoffman said any listed property is officially recorded by the county and until the owner changes, it's the seller's responsibility, and the homeowner is the seller.

According to Wait, the seller is responsible for any damage until the title is transferred. That's why Hoffman and Wait recommend sellers keep their insurance on a property until the deed is recorded. 

"Even at the closing, I always recommend that our clients keep insurance until the law firm says it's recorded," Hoffman said. "We recommend that the buyer gets insurance because if it records, then the buyer is responsible where the buyer doesn't have insurance." 

Under most residential transactions, the buyer is allowed to terminate the contract if there is significant damage. However, some contracts can be formed differently, so wait says it's a good idea to have an attorney look over the contract before making any decisions. 

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.

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