When it comes to buying a home, transparency is crucial. In the real estate world, sellers have a legal duty to provide buyers with written disclosures that outline any known defects or material facts about the property. These disclosures are designed to protect buyers and ensure they have all the information they need to make an informed decision.
However, there are instances when sellers fail to fulfill this obligation, leaving buyers in a precarious situation. In this article, we will explore this topic so you can make the most informed decision as a buyer and a seller.
What is Failure to Disclose?
Failure to disclose occurs when a home seller deliberately withholds or conceals material facts about the property from the buyer. A material fact in real estate refers to any information that could significantly impact the buyer’s decision to purchase the property or affect its value.
What Types of Information Need to be Disclosed?
The scope of what needs to be disclosed can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but common examples include:
- Structural defects: Foundation problems, roof leaks, plumbing issues, etc.
- Environmental hazards: Presence of lead-based paint, asbestos, mold, or radon gas
- Previous damage: History of flooding, fire damage, or termite infestation
- Legal disputes: Ongoing litigation, property line disputes, or neighbor conflicts
- Code violations: Non-compliance with building codes or zoning regulations
It’s important for buyers to thoroughly review any applicable local laws and regulations regarding disclosure requirements in their area.
Types of Claims When a Seller Fails to Disclose
Buyers who discover that a seller has failed to disclose a material fact in real estate may have several legal claims at their disposal. These can include:
Breach of Contract
If the seller’s failure to disclose violates the terms of the purchase agreement or any specific representations made during negotiations.
When the seller provides false information or intentionally conceals facts with the intent to deceive the buyer.
Alleging that the seller failed to disclose a material fact in real estate that was known or should have been known to them.
Types of Damages in a Failure to Disclose Case
In cases where a seller’s failure to disclose is proven, buyers may be entitled to various types of damages, including:
These are intended to compensate the buyer for any financial losses incurred as a result of the undisclosed defect. This can include repair costs, diminished property value, or other related expenses.
In some jurisdictions, punitive damages may be awarded if the seller’s conduct is deemed particularly egregious or intentional. Punitive damages are awarded as a way of deterring the defendant from repeating their actions.
In certain cases, buyers may seek to rescind the contract altogether, effectively canceling the transaction and returning both parties to their pre-contract positions.
What Options Do You Have?
If you find yourself in a situation where a seller has failed to disclose a material fact in real estate, it’s important to understand your options. While litigation is one potential avenue for seeking redress, there may be other options available, such as negotiation or mediation.
In the unfortunate event of a failure to disclose, consulting with real estate lawyers can provide invaluable guidance and representation to protect your rights and pursue appropriate remedies.
Get the Help You Need With The Mellor Law Firm
Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to real estate transactions. Be vigilant, seek professional advice, and ensure you have all the necessary information before making one of the most significant investments of your life.
Contact our experienced team of real estate lawyers at The Mellor Law Firm to get the help you need with your property.