Seller Disclosure vs. Buyer Beware

Seller has a Responsibility is to make Full Disclosure

Sellers generally understand that they have an obligation to disclose hidden defects or deficiencies in their home. Yet once in a while, we come across a seller who,

  1. Withholds material information from their REALTOR® even when asked and cautioned about their legal requirements, or
  2. Only wants a portion of the information about the defect disclosed.  

Both of these instances amount to concealment and misrepresentation of material facts about the property.

Making an Informed Decision

A material fact is basically any information that would cause a buyer to decide whether or not to make an offer and how much the buyer is willing to pay based on the information known to him. It really comes down to the buyer making an informed decision. After all, the buyer needs to know what he is buying.

Buyer has a Responsibility to Inspect

  • The buyer certainly has a personal responsibility to take all reasonable measures to inspect the property, as “Buyer Beware” continues to be a function of buying property.
  • The buyer also needs to work with a REALTOR® who, though not an expert inspector, needs to act as a 3rd eye on behalf of the buyer, point out any obvious deficiencies and concerns that may or may not be apparent to the buyer, and check out any concerns or information the agent or the buyer question.
  • The buyer’s offer should also be conditional on a home inspection at the buyer’s expense. This is a small price to pay for knowing up front what a certified 3rd party expert can discover about the property. It’s important here to make sure that the home inspector has appropriate E & O Insurance.

Some of the most common deficiencies are:

  • Moisture and/or Water problems in the basement, around windows or from the roof and attic,
  • Septic System problems and Water Potability with wells and cisterns,
  • Problems with electrical or plumbing systems, furnace, central air or other mechanicals,
  • Whether the property is subject to flooding,
  • Any structural problems,
  • Non-compliance with zoning bylaws,
  • Any encroachments, easements or rights-of-way,
  • Any deficiency notices affecting the property,
  • Any prior insurance claims during the seller’s ownership or before that are known to the sellers,
  • Any psychological stigma such as a violent death.  

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