Does a Seller Have to Disclose Everything to The Buyer About Their Home?
I wish it was as simple as stating "yes" or "no". Unfortunately, there have been so many lawsuits across the country between buyers and sellers regarding the "proper" disclosure, that there is now (for the most part) no excuse for Sellers' not knowing the proper standard.
The standard is a reasonable common sense standard. If the buyer can see the defect when they are inspecting your home, then you do not need to "tell them" (disclose) about the defect since it is readily observable. This, however, is not what results in lawsuits by the buyers. It’s the defects that the buyers can’t see,and later find out 6 months after moving into the home, that starts the lawsuit
What does this mean? As the seller, you are required to tell the buyers of defects that exist within your home, but that the buyers cannot see when they walk through your home. Prime examples are leaky roof, termites, or foundational cracks. As a seller if you know you have these problems or similar problems then you are required by law to tell the buyer so the buyer can make an informed decision on whether he/she wishes to still purchase the home.
Well, I know what you are asking now. What if I didn’t know? As mentioned before, this is a common sense standard so you are not required by law to disclose defects that you didn’t know about either. I still know what you are thinking now. As seller, I can probably identify 100 small little defects, i.e, chipped plaster in a small corner of my bedroom, stains along my floors in the kitchen or maybe a kitchen cabinet doesn’t properly close all the way. Remember, this is a common sense standard so only huge defects (material) that are not readily observable need to be disclosed. If the buyers would change their mind and not buy your home over the "defect", chances are the defect is material.
What this all boils down to is that as sellers you should put every known defect in your home on your seller disclosure to avoid any future liability.
So to conclude, just remember, when in doubt disclose in writing and you will be protected.
For more information on this and other real estate matters, contact one of our West Palm Beach lawyers at LaBovick Law Group.