Since real estate transactions involve hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, there are many laws that regulate them. Both buyers and sellers are subject to certain requirements.
Those selling real property, whether it is their home or an investment property, have a responsibility under the law to tell potential buyers about issues. Sellers typically have to include a written disclosure statement when listing their home for sale. However, there may be certain issues that they don’t acknowledge that you should be on the lookout for when hunting for homes.
Sellers may not acknowledge illegal activity that took place at the property
The house that you hope to raise a family in may have previously been home to an illegal marijuana grow room, a meth lab or even an underground brothel. If there has been frequent drug use or drug manufacturing at a home, chemical contamination could it make the house unsafe for habitation.
In the case of illegal marijuana grow operations, the potential for mold growth is there, even if there is no visible mold when you inspect the property. The damage may have already been done or could have just been painted over.
In the case of a house used for sex crimes or as a drug house, the risk is less physical and more about the potential of those who used to visit showing up and pounding on the front door.
Sellers may try to gloss over possible title issues
If someone knows that their home is subject to a divorce decree in another state or that the property they plan to sell is part of an estate with heirs who have not received notification of their rights, they likely aren’t going to tell you about those issues.
After all, a spouse or a family member with rights due to a divorce decree or a last will could potentially make a claim against the title in the future. Sellers may try to gloss over known issues in the hope that no issues will arise. If they do, you might be the one in a difficult situation after the transaction.
Sellers may even hide latent defects in the property
Some issues in a home are obvious. Cracks in drywall, outdated fixtures and leaking plumbing are all problems that you might be able to spot on your own. Touring a property with a real estate professional or with the help of an appraiser is a better idea.
Some latent defects are harder to spot. Sellers might even intentionally hide evidence of issues. A fresh coat of paint could hide recently patched cracks caused by foundation issues or evidence of termite damage.
Due diligence is crucial for those hoping to buy a home. Investing in a thorough title search and a careful inspection of the property can help protect you from buying a home with issues you didn’t know of ahead of time. If you discover issues that the seller would obviously have known about but didn’t disclose, you may need to take legal action if those defects have an impact on the property’s value or habitability.