“What is Suing Seller for Non-Disclosure? Sellers are legally obligated to disclose important property information during real estate sales. An individual who does not know about issues or known defects in the property may file a lawsuit against the seller if the seller doesn’t disclose them.”
A property owner that sells a property “AS IS” without disclosing known defects is guilty of fraud. Disclosing transaction details and avoiding major worries are essential to a successful transaction. In cases where the seller intentionally failed to disclose defects, your attorney can file a lawsuit against the seller.
Defects are known to many sellers, unfortunately. They often paint over a defect or install new carpet to hide it. Often, they will try to sell the defective house to an uninformed buyer about the defects. In some cases, they get away with it, leaving you with the bill for the repairs. Hidden, latent defects are both immoral and illegal. You can learn more about your rights as a home buyer by reading the following article, then contact Attorney real estate in California for more information.
Property Inspection Responsibilities of the Buyer
A Suing Seller for Non-Disclosure still must disclose property issues, but that doesn’t mean a buyer can’t exercise reasonable care and judgment. Inspecting any property the buyer intends to sell is the buyer’s responsibility.
A buyer could not hold the seller liable even if the seller failed to disclose the defect to them if it was clear. A seller can conceal a defect if it is obvious or downplay its severity if it discloses. The seller is still liable in those cases.
Selling the Property As-Is
It provides the seller with actual or constructive knowledge of any issues with the property that may affect its desirableness or value. And providing the buyer with a Transfer Disclosure Statement. The seller must disclose those issues to the buyer, as mentioned earlier.
Whatever the property’s condition, it must be inspected regardless of whether it goes “as-is.” Purchasing a property listed “as-is” implies that the buyer must accept the property’s visible and disclosed defects.
The “as-is” provision of the sale does not cover any issues discovered by the buyer after the property has gone “as-is.” The seller may be liable for the loss in value or desirability if the seller knows about the issue when the sale occurs.
What Sellers Need to Disclose?
California law protects homebuyers from sellers’ dishonesty by requiring them to disclose latent defects. When a buyer can find an undiscovered flaw after buying the property, it could take months or weeks to discover the issue, and neither their inspections nor their inspectors can identify it.
Latent defects must justify the buyer by proving that the seller knew about them. It is not true that the seller knew about a defect if you discover it after buying the house. There may be a latent defect, but it is not visible, but the seller was aware of it.
Even though there may be latent defects, there is no such thing as a latent defect. There is no visible sign of latent defects by definition. Home sellers often try to hide some of the following defects in their homes:
Flooding has been historic in California recently, and many basements have flooded. Floodwater is uncommon to damage a basement’s foundation, sheetrock, and paneling. As well as causes allergies and sickness among people who are allergic to moulds or fungi.
Water is usually not brought into a house through burst pipes but through the foundation, basement stairwells, or floor drains.
Most competent and experienced people can recognize telltale signs of damage, especially home inspectors, even when the extent of damage is unclear. On the inside concrete basement walls, there is a fuzzy-looking white growth called effervescent. During the drying process, effervescent is a mineral deposit deposited on the inside surface of the foundation wall courtesy of moisture in the ground.
There is a direct correlation between water and mould. Mould can cause serious health and structural complications, even if it may not seem like a big deal. To get to the settlement table and money for their house, sellers may try to scrape, hide, or paint over the mould.
Often, a seller does not want to disclose structural defects even though they may not be aware of them. Bad design, unsupported ceilings, roofs, or cracked basement foundation walls are possible examples.
There’s as much importance to discussing latent defects as what they are not. There has to be something serious behind that loose screw behind the paneling for it to be a latent defect. There will be broken things in every home, even brand-new homes. The sheetrock has holes, the nails are popping, the tape joints between the ceiling and the walls sag, or the floors are gaping. Sellers do not have to disclose defects of this type.
Latent defects are the only disclosure that California law requires sellers to make. They can instead disclaim, which is what most sellers do. Sellers may disclose information about a home’s various systems and components via a form called “Real Property 10-702”. Or disclaim all representations other than latent defects.
Form 10-702 is a two or three-page form that the seller must complete with many checkboxes. It is common practice for sellers to draw a diagonal line through that page when they disclaim any representations, but buyers should exercise caution.
It is important to look for a diagonal line; if it exists on one page, it is important to flip through all pages to ensure no boxes state latent defects. Make sure you read everything that shows in the boxes.
There might be something you don’t expect. Our experience at Attorney Real Estate Group shows that most buyers and realtors ignore those seller disclosures. Nobody else can get into the house in excitement to get their offer in. They pass over those pages as they initial each one. That’s not right.
Suing the Seller for Non-Disclosure
It is important to take photos of a cover-up on every occasion, but do not remove anything if there is evidence of a cover-up (effervescent, paint streaks, etc.). Please contact Attorney Real Estate Group as soon as possible if you suspect a cover-up.
There is a need for you to prove the seller knew of the defect. It is your attorney’s responsibility to establish:
- Before your sale, the house had a defect.
- There’s no obvious defect that you can see.
- This defect has resulted in monetary damages for you.
If these facts can be proved, you may have grounds to file a fraud claim against the seller. Depending on the contract, the buyer may even be able to claim attorney’s fees besides damages if the contract has an attorney’s fee clause.
So, if the seller does not repair or make necessary repairs, then the buyer will be responsible for the costs and attorney’s fees.
What kinds of things aren’t latent defects?
Laws in this area can be complicated. Consider contacting an attorney if you have concerns your home may have a latent defect that the seller did not disclose.
There is a possibility that the defect you perceive is not a defect at all. Easements, for instance, do not impose any harm to the health or safety of occupants, so they would not qualify as latent defects.
A property line is another example. Latent defects are not present in property lines, although the seller may have committed fraud. A competent location survey and visual inspection of the property should uncover the encroachments addressed in the contract.
How are money damages handled?
In most cases, damages will include a financial penalty. For the buyer to resolve the issue(s), the seller must pay the amount determined by the court. The seller may have to pay the difference if the difference is greater than the property value.
A lawyer with extensive experience in real estate litigation will be able to handle and manage this case. Damages fall into three main types. First, compendia damages outline the buyer’s expenses in fixing the issue. The assessment also reflects the decreased property value caused by the unshared defect.
Punitive damage is also available. To prove that the agent or seller used malice in concealing that defect, the attorney must establish malice. The law requires punishment for these violations. A court is the only one that can determine the appropriate sanctions.
The last type of damage is rescission damages. A minimal number of cases occur in which this occurs. There is but an option for the buyer to rescind the agreement. As a result, the seller needs to return the entire amount and take back the property. The entire transaction fails if a property has many details omitted.
California real estate license applicants will receive a Transfer Disclosure Statement from Attorney Real Estate. This is a great opportunity for sellers to provide all the information about their marketed properties. Penalties will be severe if you fail to be explicit and specific.
What type of issues tends not to surface?
Earthquake information was commonly omitted before current laws in California. As geologists have created seismic maps for the state, it is almost impossible to avoid sharing all the property’s seismic issues. To help sellers complete their TDS, this information is available online.
Does it matter if a past problem with my house has been fixed?
The alternative would be foolish. Even though very few people read the 10-702 Disclosure Statement. You should include all the information you know about your home.
In the disclosure, you can ensure that everything reflects the truth to protect yourself from possible lawsuits. Consider that the buyer will be unreasonable and may blame you when the water backs up under the basement door because they did not clean the leaves out of the basement stairwell.
The fact that you repaired something does not negate the fact that there was a problem. But, the house has a history, even if the defect has healed. The buyer’s unrealistic or unreasonable expectations can be used against you. House histories are best handled by disclosing them.
An example would be your yard after bad grading caused water to leak into your basement. Even though that is not likely to happen again, it should still be disclosed. You’ll need all the receipts and the contract for your grading work. Real estate agents often tell against doing that because they fear it will discourage buyers from buying. The biggest difference between a lawyer and a realtor is this. There is a lot of pressure on realtors to get to the settlement table as soon as possible. In law, lawyers are more concerned with what will happen next.
As a general rule, the best thing to do is to disclose everything in the Disclosure Statement. Unless you’re a big risk taker (since you would be the one is taking the risk). The realtor should write an addendum if there isn’t enough space. A lawyer can assist you if you are uneasy about the realtor’s handling of the matter. In our experience, buyers are more scared about what the seller isn’t telling them than something that occurred but ended correctly. If a seller might be hiding something, we know what to look for.
Get a professional estate lawyer for the most accurate knowledge
Under California law, seller disclosure requirements are numerous. If you work with a professional with industry experience, you will find the process much easier. As far as these laws go, this article only scratches the surface.
Sellers will be protected from legal repercussions by legal professionals who will help them eliminate any problems.
If a buyer believes that the TDS was not properly shared or that information was missing, they should consult a legal professional. Regardless of your involvement in the transaction, we recommend working with a lawyer. A real estate lawyer can help Suing Seller for Non-Disclosure and ensure all deal aspects are respected.