Imagine you found your dream home, you couldn’t be more excited to be under contract. But you start wondering "what if something is wrong with the house? How will I know?"
First things first, don't panic! After you deliver earnest money to the title company you will be receiving some disclosures to review. One of these disclosures is the Sellers Property Disclosure. On this disclosure you will get the chance to review all of the issues that the seller is aware of pertaining to that property. Review it carefully and thoroughly because you aren’t going to go in and start destroying the property to look for problems, and it will be very helpful to know if there have been any issues with the property in the past that you cannot see with the naked eye. These issues are called “latent defects.” It’s important to review the disclosure, ask questions, and hire a licensed home inspector.
Latent defects are more concerning to buyers than “patent defects” because they are unseeable and sometimes even unknown to the seller. Unlike patent defects, latent defects usually cannot be spotted without expertise in construction, architecture, or engineering. Consider, for example, asbestos in the ceiling tiles, carbon monoxide leaking into the air, or rusted basement pipes that are close to bursting.
Good ole Wikipedia states “In the law of the sale of property (both real estate and personal property or chattels) a latent defect is a fault in the property that could not have been discovered by a reasonably thorough inspection before the sale.
The general law of the sale of property is caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) and buyers are under a general duty to inspect their purchase before taking possession. However, it is understood at law that inspection is often not sufficient to detect certain deficiencies in the product that can only be discovered through destructive testing or other means that a seller could not reasonably be expected to allow under normal conditions. For example, wood beams and interior brickwork often cannot be fully assessed without destructive testing, and it would be unreasonable for the seller to allow the buyer to destroy part of the property in order to discover such defects."
Moral of story: Sellers are typically honest when filling out these sellers disclosures but always do your due diligence as there may be some lurking issues. If it's found that the seller knew about a cracked pipe and lied about it, then the buyer would have a case for fraud.
Buying a home is a big to-do with many exciting, sometimes overwhelming and stressful turns to navigate through. Remember: Due diligence and education is key. Brian Farkas, an Attorney and writer for lawyers.com said it best “There is an old expression that you should not be “pennywise and pound foolish.” Although hiring a home inspector will cost you some money right now, you can help avoid nasty surprises after you purchase the home.
Latent defects are frightening for buyers, because they’re not easily discoverable to those without specialized training in construction, architecture, or engineering. Consequently, you should be on guard and insist upon ample opportunity to conduct a thorough home inspection.”
Looking to buy or sell and now Ive scared the crap out of you? Don't worry, that's why you hire a REALTOR. Reach out and I'd be happy to help! email@example.com