When you’re buying a property, you take steps to know all you can about it. You want to be sure that you know about defects that could impact the property’s value or require repairs, because those are costly.
Many sellers do all they can to repair minor issues before selling a home, but some will take additional steps to try to conceal issues that are lying under the surface. They may try to patch cracks in the foundation or paint over damaged wood to hide defects, leading to buyers having problems with the home down the line.
What can a buyer do if the seller failed to disclose defects?
To start with, buyers should know that sellers don’t necessarily know about all defects. For example, if the seller only lived in the property for a few years and didn’t know that a previous owner had hidden away defects, they might not have been aware and able to disclose them to you. This is one reason why you will want to have an inspection on any property you’re interested in purchasing.
If a buyer finds a defect during an inspection, it is much easier to negotiate down the price of the home or to walk away from the sale. If the defects were hidden away and result in damage later on, though, the alternative option may be to sue.
If you plan to sue for defects, you will need to show that the seller knew about or should have known about the problems you’re dealing with. For example, if the seller discussed replacing the sink in the bathroom and you remove it only to find significant damage behind it, you may be able to show that they should have known about that damage and intentionally tried to cover it up. Similarly, if fresh paint chips away and you see damage to the foundation, you may be able to show that the seller tried to cover cracks or damage that quickly appeared again.
Failing to disclose defects could result in a broken contract and may give you the opportunity to sue, so you can get compensated for any financial losses. In some cases, you may also be able to unwind the sale.