Hiding Flaws May Invite a Lawsuit when Selling Your Home

This is the fifth of five blogs from The Lanham Group on preparing and showing your Fort Lauderdale home to win over a prospective buyer. Click below to hear how hiding these issues can get you into trouble with the buyer, possibly lead to a lawsuit, and what to do.

To view the entire library, go to https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3MT2yTdw4YS0MofVaxw71PmFVZlMr_S7.

Who knows your Fort Lauderdale home – and its imperfections – better than you? That light switch in the laundry room doesn’t always work right, and you sometimes get a slight electrical shock because that kitchen outlet isn’t GFI grounded. Those original windows in that historic Victoria Park home still have traces of lead paint, the pool overlooking the Intracoastal has a slight leak, and you think you might have seen live termites recently.

The buyer will hire a home inspection service to test the house’s functions and try to ferret out defects. But some faults are only discovered by actually living there.

You know your home’s slight imperfections. Should your buyer know, too? What role should full disclosure play when preparing your sales contract?

I always encourage my listing clients to reveal every known defect. Sure, you invite the cost of repair or charge-backs at closing for repairs you’ve not made. Most worrisome, though, if your buyer one day is injured or damage occurs resulting from a defect you did not disclose, and they come to realize you failed to disclose, you can be sued for damages.

What can you do to avoid issues and possible lawsuit?

 

  • Fix any known defects before listing your home. We discussed this in a previous blog about repairs and tidying as part of any pre-listing preparation process.

 

  • Decide which fixes you’d rather not do, disclose them at contract, and offer a buyer credit.

 

  • Offer a home warranty at closing, in case any appliances or the air conditioner operate well, but are aging or have some faults.

 

  • Disclose unpermitted improvements. Some disclosures go beyond those related to defects. Was that patio addition, new fence, or dock remodel done without a building permit? Some real estate contracts require sellers to reveal any known code-violations, which can include upgrades done without required permits.

 

In most instances, you can’t get in trouble at closing for not disclosing defects. Yet, if your buyer faces an issue or is injured because of a defect, you can be sued. What’s more, being honest turns a transaction into a relationship. So, avoid a lawsuit and be upfront about all issues with your home prior to selling!

Gary Lanham says avoid lawsuitsGary Lanham Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is a boutique real estate organization offering sales, leasing, and brokerage services to the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. A listings agent matches home sellers with buyers and tenants with landlords. While Broward County is our universe, we focus on Coral Ridge Country Club, Imperial Point, Oakland Park, Wilton Manors, Pompano Beach and the surrounding areas. Call us today at (954) 695-6518 or visit www.GaryLanhamGroup.com.

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