House Talk

Avoiding Lawsuits

What to Disclose?


Many states now have a requirement that a seller disclose in writing to potential buyers any defects that may exist within the home they are selling.  There are also specific questions that must be answered within the purchase agreement itself confirming that certain defects do not exist to your knowledge.


In the past, it has been on the buyer’s shoulders to make sure to check out a property thoroughly before purchasing.  If they found out after the sale that something was wrong, they had little recourse.  Not true today.  More and more buyers are suing and winning in lawsuits against homeowners that did not disclose a defect in a property they sold.


So then, why are home sellers still tempted to hide  defects like the leaky roof or the wet basement?  Most are still not aware of the severe consequences that may await them for doing so. 


If you hide a problem that you know exists and the buyer sues, you could not only have the house back in your lap, you may end up paying punitive damages in excess of the homes value as compensation for the buyers trouble.


So what are some of the things a seller should disclose to the potential buyer?  Anything they are aware of that may influence a buyer’s decision to purchase the property.  A leaky roof, a furnace that doesn’t work properly, water in the basement, even an occasional sewer backup, are all worth mentioning.


Your best course of action to protect yourself is to hire a home inspector, and use his findings as a basis for repairs or at least what to list.  This way the buyer will not be able to say you knew about something that you did not.  If it wasn’t on the home inspection report, an attorney would have a hard time showing you knew about the problem.


For a list of home inspectors or advice on disclosure laws for this area, call us.  We’re here to help.


Qualifications to Look For in a Home



An inspectors job is to give the seller an objective opinion as to the condition of their home.  They should not stand to profit in any way from work that may need to be done.  Stay away from hiring an inspector who is associated with actually doing the contracting work on improvements or repairs.


Also, hire someone that is not a friend or relative.  It may be necessary later to use the home inspection as proof that you were not aware of a defect and you wouldn’t want it to be disqualified because of doubts regarding your relationship with the inspector.


Look for someone who is experienced in the field of home inspection and don’t be afraid to ask for references.  Be aware in advance of what areas will be inspected, and how extensive his inspection will be.  Don’t forget that we keep a list of qualified home inspectors that we’d be happy to provide for you.