Disclosing Defects is Every Sellerís Responsibility
By Sadiya Anjum
Sellers have the responsibility of disclosing any defects in the property to the buyer. The seller should disclose defects which could affect the value of the property as well as the living conditions. The defects may relate to insulation, structure, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems, fixtures, etc. No defect is too small to be kept away from the buyer.
It is understandable that most sellers feel that disclosing defects may result in a lower price, so why should they subject themselves to this? Firstly, because it is unethical and unfair to those buying your home. If this is not a good enough reason, consider the damage you will suffer if the buyer decides to sue you later.
Some states require sellers to fill in a disclosure form which has to be handed over to the buyer. If the seller does not present this form, the buyer can easily withdraw his offer and get a complete refund of his earnest money deposit. Laws have becomes stringent over the years to protect consumers, in this case the buyers. Some items have to be specifically disclosed and vary from state to state. Federal law requires disclosure related to lead content.
Even if there are no strict laws applicable, one is not allowed to mislead the buyer. You may choose to hide a minor defect but leading the buyer to believe something which is false will surely get you into trouble. If you lie about a particular defect and the seller finds out later, you will be required to reimburse for repairs and perhaps suffer litigation.
Get an inspection done if you must but reveal the condition of the property truthfully. If it is possible you should consider fixing some of the major defects. Even if you are selling your home Ďas isí, it only means that you are not required to renovate or repair defects. You will still have to disclose the defects to the buyer.
Find out the legal obligations of the seller in your state to fulfill your duties completely. Although it is up to the seller to reveal all defects, it is suggested that one should do it. It will provide the buyer a clearer picture and save you from getting slapped with a lawsuit.
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