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What do sellers need to tell you about when you buy a house?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2021 | Real Estate Litigation

When you considering a big purchase, you need to be able to make an informed decision. Knowing all of the important details is crucial, especially if you plan to buy real estate. When purchasing a home, you need to know about any issues with the space that might affect your health and safety, as well as the resale value of the property.

One of the first things you should review after seeing pictures of the home is the seller’s disclosure. This document includes detailed information from the seller about the condition of critical systems in the home. Sellers have an obligation to disclose all known defects, including latent defects that might not be immediately apparent during an inspection.

Understanding the exact disclosures requirements for sellers can help you take action should you discover undisclosed issues after purchasing a new home.

What types of disclosures are required in California?

If the seller knows that there are water incursion issues in the home or a history of pest infestation at the property, they must disclose these issues to you. Sellers not only have to disclose known defects and potential liens or title issues, they also have to tell buyers about any factors that could impact the property’s value or the buyer’s ability to enjoy their home.

Some examples of real estate defects include:

  • Proximity to a noisy airport
  • Deaths that occurred in a home
  • Proximity to fault lines
  • Proximity to known flood zones
  • Nearby farms or ranches
  • Nearby gas or hazardous liquid pipelines
  • Remediation orders related to methamphetamine

A seller that hides these big issues or lies about them entirely can create major problems and additional expenses for the buyer.

What happens if the seller doesn’t disclose issues?

When a seller intentionally hides the truth about the condition of a property, buyers could end up purchasing property they’re unable to maintain. They also might offer a higher price for the real estate than they would have if they had known about the undisclosed issues.

In some extreme cases, undisclosed defects could make the home uninhabitable or unsafe. Other times, buyers may have to incur tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs to address an issue that the seller hid from them.

Thankfully, there are laws that regulate seller disclosure to prevent these types of circumstances. Should a deceptive seller purposefully fail to disclose defects with the property, you may be able to take legal action them. Documenting the defect and reviewing the seller’s disclosure information is a good starting point for identifying non-disclosed defects in residential real estate.