News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists

Dave Ramsey

Pre-existing leak causing homeowner flood of worry

Dear Dave: We recently bought a home in Tennessee, and unbeknownst to us there was a leak in the basement. The person who sold us the house said she had the problem fixed.

Our homeowner's insurance won't cover it because it's classified as a pre-existing condition, and the home shield policy purchased by the seller won't cover it, either.

Will I have to approach the person who supposedly repaired the problem in the past to get him to repair this correctly? — Todd

Dear Todd: You probably need to address this with the person who sold you the house. The seller hired the repairman and told you the basement was in good condition, and you live in a state that has seller disclosure rules. According to the law, the seller must disclose anything wrong with the house that he or she knows about.

First, call an attorney and ask what rights you have. Then call the seller and his agent and ask for a meeting. Over a cup of coffee, you can tactfully tell them that a reasonable person would have known the basement was still leaking and he failed to disclose the fact. Let them know you feel that you were misled, and you think it's only fair that the seller pay to repair the problem correctly. If she doesn't want to do this, you might advise her that you'll find a judge who will assist in seeing the reason in this request.

I never just run out, hire an attorney and start beating on people. It's always best to sit down, talk to them and give them the chance to be reasonable and do the right thing. But if they're not willing to do the right thing, then you must be prepared to take legal action.

It's possible the seller may be able to take action against the person who attempted the repairs. But unless the seller transferred warranty to you when you purchased the house, I don't think you have any action you can take against the repairman.

I'm not a lawyer and you need to consult one to be sure, but from my real estate background I can tell you there are some serious seller disclosure laws in Tennessee.
Just make sure you know your rights before you talk to the seller. — Dave

Leaks in budget

Dear Dave: We've been listening to you for a while and have been living on a budget for a few months. For some reason there seems to be some leaks in our budget. It's just a few dollars here and there, but added together it makes a huge dent in our budget. Can you give me some advice on how to plug these leaks? — Joy

Dear Joy: This kind of thing happens a lot in household budgeting, especially to folks who are new to the game. Here are some ideas to help stretch your dollars and plug those leaks.

  • Use the cash-only method when shopping for groceries. Take cash for the amount you have budgeted for groceries, and then you won't be tempted to use the debit card or a check. Also, use coupons only for items you would buy anyway. You also can stock up on items you use often when there is a sale. These little things will add up.

  • Try eating out only on special occasions, and don't be afraid to use coupons in restaurants, either. Drink water as your beverage and if you want to be creative, throw in a lemon.

  • When you are buying new clothes, make a habit of checking the sale rack first. Shop at thrift and consignment stores, and sell the clothes you don't wear anymore. Avoid trendy clothes, and buy the durable classics that don't go out of style.

  • With entertainment, use dollar-off and buy-one-get-one-free coupons whenever you can. See a matinee or a second-run movie, and if you're going somewhere with a group of people, call ahead and ask for a group discount.

    Joy, I promise you'll be amazed at how much money these tactics will help you save. — Dave

  • Dave Ramsey Dave Ramsey
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