When one sells a home, they’re obligated to tell buyers about potential problems with the property. While disclosure laws vary by jurisdiction, sellers must typically tell buyers about problems that may cause injury, or those that would affect a buyer’s decision. However, sellers aren’t usually required to disclose minor, readily apparent defects.
What Should Be Included on Disclosure Forms?
Most jurisdictions follow the buyer-beware rule, which states that buyers assume the risk of buying a defective property. However, along with information on pricing, age and sizing, sellers must disclose material defects such as roof leaks, flooding, toxic conditions, mechanical issues and deaths on the premises.
In addition to disclosure duties, sellers cannot actively conceal defects. For instance, the seller can’t paint walls to hide mold. New homes have an implied fitness warranty, meaning that they should be sold in habitable condition.
Who Must Make Disclosures?
Sellers’ duties depend on the nature of the defect. If the seller is represented by a real estate agent, that person also has disclosure duties. Real estate professionals are held to higher standards than homeowners in almost all situations.
What Can a Buyer Do If a Seller Failed to Disclose a Defect?
To protect oneself, the buyer should consider having the property independently appraised before closing a deal. If a defect is found after purchase, the buyer may need to hire a residential real estate lawyer in Chicago to file a claim for damages.
If the buyer is injured by the defect, they may be eligible to recover economic damages. Victims should document any injuries with photographic evidence and by saving copies of medical bills and payment receipts.
Does the Buyer Need a Lawyer?
If a buyer is hurt by an undisclosed defect, they may have a legitimate claim against the seller. The attorneys of Starr, Bejgiert, Zink & Rowells in Chicago can help clients protect their interests and recover economic losses, and they can provide advice specific to one’s case. By hiring an experienced real estate attorney, buyers can hold sellers liable for failing to disclose a property’s material defects. Local attorneys can help clients make a full recovery in most cases.