At what point does disclosure become oversharing? p2
8/24/2014 | Real Estate Blog
We are circling back to our discussion about a homebuyer’s lawsuit against the seller and the seller’s real estate agent. After the sale was completed, the buyer discovered that a notorious murder had taken place in the home. She sued, claiming that the defendants had an obligation to tell her about the home’s history.
As we said in our Aug. 21, 2014, post, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania does not normally get involved in a straightforward “caveat emptor” case. The law protects homebuyers in many cases, but there are some situations that a buyer must resolve himself — before the sale is closed or after.
State law requires the seller to disclose “material defects.” The seller is not required to complete an inspection of the property. Also, the seller who is not a real estate professional need not become one before completing the disclosure form. The material defects are known defects in areas that state law enumerates: roof, heating system, plumbing, etc. The seller must also disclose the presence of any hazardous substances on the property. The list is fairly thorough, and most real estate agents have added more items.
The material defects are known defects in areas that state law enumerates: roof, heating system, plumbing, etc. The seller must also disclose the presence of any hazardous substances on the property. The list is fairly thorough, and most real estate agents have added more items.
In this case, the buyer said that the fact of the murder/suicide was a material defect and, as a result, lowered the value of the home. Generally, materials defects are things like defects in title, zoning and land use problems and environmental contamination. The courts and state law have established that it is not a material defect if some part of the structure simply reaches the end of its useful life. Buyer purchases a home with a 25-year-old water heater in it and must replace it shortly after the sale is complete. The thing was old, and it was its time to go.
We will finish this up in our next post.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Milliken v. Jacono, — A.3d —-, 2014 WL 3579791 (Pa.), via Westlaw
Philly.com, “Pa. home sellers don’t have to disclose murders, satanic rituals,” Sam Wood, July 24, 2014