What is a Seller obligated to disclose about their property?
Wednesday Jan 30th, 2019Share
If I’m interested in purchasing a home, what does the seller have to disclose to me about the property?
When you’re in the process of buying a home, it can be very easy to get caught up in the esthetics of the place — such as the granite countertops and hardwood floors, but elements such as foundations, wiring, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems are just as important, if not more so.
Sellers often ask what they are obligated to disclose when selling their home, and this is definitely an important question. Ignoring this obligation can land a seller in court!
There are two types of defects: Patent defects and Latent defects. Patent defects are those that are clearly visible. Latent defects are not apparent and may not be discoverable, even by a home inspector or other expert and must be disclosed.
Examples of patent defects include visible cracks in a foundation wall, missing safety railings or visible stains that suggest a roof leak. The seller’s representative doesn’t have to disclose patent defects to you, as these items can be found during a home inspection or are visible to the potential buyer’s eye.
Examples of latent defects include a history of flooding, structural or fire damage where the impact is not visible without an invasive inspection. This could be a structural defect that poses a risk of a wall collapsing, or a history of flooding that would foster the growth of toxic mold. Hidden knob and tube wiring or termite issues are also considered latent defects. In this case, the seller is only obligated to disclose the problem if they know about it.
Since the seller’s disclosure obligations are limited, it’s important to take steps to identify issues for yourself. That’s where your sales rep comes in. They will recommend a home inspection, and must take all reasonable steps to determine and disclose all facts about the property that might affect your decision to purchase, how much you may consider offering for it, or what conditions you would include. This could include asking the seller’s agent specific questions about issues that have come to their attention, inserting clauses in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, requesting or checking for documentation, or other forms of research.