What happens when a Seller tries to hide something about their house from buyers? Something nasty that could cost the Seller money if the Buyer were to find out? Typically it’s Buyer Beware which is why Buyers ask for a home inspection but sometimes what’s being hidden is almost impossible to find.
A real estate agent in my office recalled the buyers who purchase a home with a beautiful backyard, perfect for their growing family. The year after they moved in they decided to put in a pool and imagine their shock when the backhoe unearthed chunks of concrete a few feet underground. Apparently the previous owners no longer wanted their pool and decided to bury it rather than remove it. The end result was the buyers ended up footing the bill for the removal and the sellers and their agent found themselves in court fighting over these costs!
There’s the case of the seller who had mold in their house. They were concerned about the impact it would have on selling their home so they hired a professional company to get rid of it. The company came into their home with hazmat suits (think Walter White in Breaking Bad) and removed the mold and after careful inspection declared it was no longer there. When the sellers agent became aware of the problem his initial statement was much like the buyers; “It’s been cleaned so no problem.”
The agent in the first case was able to avoid penalties as he was never aware of the problem however the sellers were very upset as they ended up paying for hiding their pool. In the second case the agent was able to get counsel from brokers and lawyers who advised them “Disclose now or you may find yourself in court later. Image it sells and the buyers become ill due to mold. If they find out it was there, even though it was fixed, you may find yourself being responsible for their health issues.”
Bottom line is that issues which can’t be seen that may cause some buyers to walk away from your home MUST be told if you know. Obvious or “patent” defects (sagging floor, puddle of water in the living room, stained ceiling) fall under the umbrella of buyer beware. When handled correctly buyers will appreciate your candor and offer you a fair price and it will ensure the sale stays a sale and not a lawsuit.