Another Market Wise Q&A from San Jose Mercury News: What Should Buyers do when the Seller hires an Unlicensed Contractor?

Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News

Q: We are in the inspection sequence of an as-is transaction on our first home purchase. We discovered serious repairs were needed that had to be attended to ASAP. To their credit, the seller and seller’s agent got workers on-site immediately. My wife and I happened to be there with our agent when one of the contractors arrived. We don’t think the workers were licensed contractors as our agent states must be the case. He couldn’t find this individual on the Web site for the Contractors State License Board ( He also can’t verify the listing agent. Needless to say, this is all very disheartening. What now?

Toolbox, Hardhat, construction, safety, equipment, worker, tools

A: Your buyer’s rep must have used a purchase contract that states all repairs are to be done by a licensed contractor. It sounds like the listing agent and/or sellers did not read the document thoroughly. That’s not uncommon. Unlicensed handymen will often answer affirmatively when asked, Are you licensed, bonded and insured ? Many even have Licensed on their business card. When cornered, they calmly state, Oh, that’s a business license.

The seller’s rep might be breaking the rules by using a nickname, which is considered false advertising. Beginning July 1, 2009, all agents must include their license number with any and all advertising or promotional items.

Have the work re-inspected immediately by a licensed contractor of that specific trade. If you are unhappy with the results of the work performed and still want the home, see a real estate attorney about your options.


Realtor Pat Kapowich, Kapowich Real Estate, is a Certified Residential Broker and instructs quarterly in real estate at De Anza College.  Contact him at (408) 245-7700 or via


E-mail your residential real estate questions to Pat at:


Realtor Pat Kapowich. Broker/Owner
Certified Residential Broker
Home Sales Expertise and Experience
(408) 245-7700