The expression “buyer beware” is known to all of us and very often when purchasing a home, it stands true, but not always. In this blog I want to shed some light on the obligations of the seller.
When it comes to disclosure of defects, I would say that the statement “seller beware” is more appropriate. The seller is obligated to disclose any hidden defects known to them. This obligation does not end with just the seller, it is also an obligation of their realtor.
When talking real estate, you will most likely hear about two types of defects; patent defects and material latent defects. Let me break it down patent defects = easily discoverable (e.g. a hole in the wall, crack in a foundation that is visible and doesn’t compromise the structure) and material latent defects = hidden defects (e.g. scratched floor hidden under a rug or mold that was painted over). Material latent defects may be discovered in an inspection, but due to their hidden nature may not always be discoverable, hence the onus falls on the seller to disclose.
If you, as a seller, know something about a property and you do not disclose it and the buyer incurs losses as a direct result of nondisclosure you may be liable and subject to a lawsuit. To save you from such problems I work from the principle that no one will be in trouble for disclosing too much, things will eventually come out (whether it is through inspection or next-door neighbours) and being honest upfront allows you to form a good relationship with the buyer and your agent.
I know a lot of you think by now that disclosing can loose you a sale and you will get less for your house, however disclosures very seldom turn into a lost sale. And if you do not disclose, there is good chance that it will come up in a conversation with the neighbours or will be discovered by other means by the new owners, if that happens after the purchase you may be subject to a lawsuit. … and I never heard of a cheap lawsuit. Just like with any defect, required repair you will need to adjust the price or fix the problem, but it will be a lot less costly than having to defend yourself in court.
If you want more help on this subject or if you would like help selling your home or finding your next dream property please feel free to contact me; Kate McInnis 403.921.5798.