Investing in a home is a major life purchase and often the largest financial decision you’ll make. Even when you find your dream home, the worry of future repairs can cause hesitation. Fortunately, there are laws meant to protect homebuyers from the consequences of undisclosed defects.
1. Property disclosures will help you make an informed purchase
The seller will provide a property disclosure statement to a potential buyer before an offer is made. In this legal document, the seller states all known property defects. The seller is required to disclose all known deficiencies that would be considered “material defects”. When buyers fully understand all defects of the home they are about to purchase, they can weigh the positives and negatives to do what’s best for their needs and budget.
2. The seller is required to disclose every property defect
A seller’s property disclosure includes a checklist with several items. This format helps the buyer ensure that nothing is left out of the disclosure. Buyers can view the list without having to navigate tricky wording or anything that makes them unsure about the possibility of mold, structural problems, or water damage. These are some of the items you’ll find on a seller’s property disclosure statement:
- Water damage caused by a weak foundation or outdated roofing
- Structural problems
- Any mold problems or a history of pests
- Prior repairs made by the seller on the property
3. If a known problem isn’t disclosed, the seller risks a lawsuit for fraud
When a seller does not disclose a serious defect, they take a big risk. Failure to identify anything that may decrease the home’s value puts the seller in danger of fraud allegations.
Buyers are trusting the seller to make an honest and thorough disclosure. This means the seller has a legal requirement to disclose everything. If they don’t, they’re fraudulently representing the condition of the property, and the buyer can take legal action. Lawsuits can also include other charges like punitive damages, meant to prevent the seller from defrauding a buyer again.
4. Buyers can be compensated for repairs
When you discover property defects after moving in, there’s no simple solution. The option to reverse the sale is complicated, and the burden of that process may leave the buyer responsible for repairs. If problems include mold that may be harmful to the buyer’s health, they will likely want to take immediate action to make the home safer.
We represented a client in this exact situation. The buyer discovered extensive mold and water damages, and quickly arranged for repairs. However, they knew they should not be held responsible for the costs. It was impossible for the seller to have no knowledge of the mold, and they were therefore liable of defrauding the buyer.
In this case, our client received damages for the full cost of the repairs and any expenses they incurred as a result of the seller’s fraudulent representations. We can explain legal rights to homebuyers and help them understand their seller’s disclosure.
As a probate attorney to estate executors, I help settle estates efficiently and reduce stress. If you know someone faced with a probate process or roadblocks to a property sale, please have them contact us for a free evaluation at:
Phone: (215) 918-4242
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