No offense to lawyers – some of my best friends and family members are lawyers. But, having to work with one because you have a legal issue is a lot different than having lawyers in your social circle.
If you find yourself in a situation like we did, you’re going to have to decide what course of action, if any, to take. One of those avenues is to sue. But, there might be alternatives you could try before having to take that step. And, if you are going to sue your realtor and/or inspector, you should have a realistic idea of what it likely to happen and what your “best case scenario” outcome would be.
Litigation (suing people) is expensive. Whether your lawyer bills you hourly or you agree to pay them a percentage of an eventual settlement or jury award, it will be costly for you. When having an initial meeting with a lawyer to talk about your case, they should definitely give you an estimated cost range for what will need to be done and then compare it to the losses you’re already facing.
For example, let’s say that the inspection failed to find major issues with the roof and after taking possession of the home, after the first major rainstorm you realize the roof is failing and needs to be replaced. That is not a cheap project. Depending on the size of your house, it could be anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 for a new roof – not including any other damage that might need to be repaired as a result of the roof failure.
What a good lawyer should be able to advise you is essentially this – what will it cost you and what are you likely to recover? If it will cost you at least as much as the repair, you’re probably better off just biting the bullet and doing the repair. It totally sucks to have to do this and I would absolutely not argue otherwise. But, you know what sucks worse? Having to do and pay for the repair and then paying lawyers fees above and beyond that only to recover cents on the dollar when it is all said and done.
If you want to discuss your situation with a lawyer, we have some suggestions for questions to ask during that meeting to help you, again, make the most informed decision you can for your situation. Ask about everything – don’t be intimidated by the fact that they are lawyers. You are trying to find someone who will work tirelessly on your behalf. They should not make you feel like you can’t or shouldn’t ask questions.
Here are some questions to get you started for that first meeting with a lawyer you are interviewing about your case.