Know your obligations. Put more bluntly, know the law. This applies to those selling a house with or without a listing agent. And, whatever advice is directed at sellers often applies to buyers, and vice versa.
The duty to disclose is a very important topic and was recently addressed by Seth Weissman, long time general counsel to the Georgia Association of Realtors. (Don’t take any action based on this information, instead seek legal advice from a real estate attorney.)
The featured image does not tell you much about the house and appears to say, “HERE IT IS!”, leaving it up to the buyer to find the good, bad and ugly. Notating that a property is being sold as-is and/or without a disclosure seems to be an all too common strategy among investors, heirs and even owner occupants to sidestep their obligation.
Sellers – Regardless of the circumstances or conditions of the sale the seller is legally obligated to report latent defects of which they are aware and which a buyer could not discover through a reasonable inspection.
With this understanding it may seem the way forward is clear. But what about when:
- A seller does not want to disclose a latent defect because the previous owner who must have known did not disclose.
- A seller disagrees with a pre-listing inspection or one produced by a buyer.
- A seller receives but does not read the buyer’s inspection report.
- A buyer ignores a seller’s instructions and sends the inspection report anyway.
- A seller asks the listing agent not to divulge a material defect that is unlikely to be discovered.
Buyers – Conduct your due diligence or forever hold your peace! There is little to no chance of winning a case against a seller if the issue could have been discovered through a reasonable inspection of the property, including current and pending zoning, boundary lines, flood insurance rates, past insurance claims, city/county/state long range plans, sex offender whereabouts, etc.