Buying a home, vacation property or investment property can be a nerve-wracking experience. Not only do these transactions involve large amounts of money, they can turn sour in a moment due to any number of issues. When you do finally find and close on a property in Florida, you may think that everything difficult is already behind you.
Then, you realize after taking possession that there's something seriously wrong with the property. Perhaps there are mechanical system issues, such as a non-working furnace or air conditioner. Maybe the foundation is sinking, meaning you will have to spend thousands of dollars to keep your home safe and livable. When you discover a defect that the sellers intentionally failed to disclose, you may need to consider a lawsuit to recover the costs associated with the problem.
Sellers must typically disclose all known defects prior to closing
There are disclosures involved in the sale and purchase of real estate for a reason. Sellers must inform potential buyers of all known defects to allow buyers to make an informed choice and ensure the sale price is reasonable and fair, given the condition of the property.
However, some unscrupulous sellers may intentionally leave off known defects or even take steps to hide them or cover them up during your viewing and any inspections you have performed. Others may intentionally avoid traditional selling systems, such as working with Realtors or mortgage companies, to prevent someone from finding out about the defect. Owner-financed properties and for sale by owner properties make it easier for a seller to hide serious issues in a property from a buyer.
Finding out about a defect can damage the value of your property
You make an offer, go through closing and take possession of the property. It quickly becomes apparent that there is an issue, whether it's black mold or a foundation issue. Hoping for the best, you call in a local professional for a quote. He or she provides a massive estimate and then informs you that the last owner previously received the same quote.
Other times, a neighbor might mention that there had been a discussion with the previous owner about the issue, or you discover obvious signs of an attempt to cover up the issue temporarily without actually correcting it. That means the seller committed real estate fraud, and you have legal cause to take action to recover these costs.
The seller should have advised you of any known defects before your closing. Failing to do so means that you paid more for a property that requires expensive repairs than you likely would have if you had known about them. If there was a real estate professional involved, he or she may also be liable for the misrepresentation of the property. In fact, that professional probably has an insurance policy to offset claims of serious errors and omissions in a transaction.