Aldrich Goldstein

What can you do if a seller doesn't disclose a home's defects?

Most homebuyers expect the person selling them their home to be upfront and honest in disclosing any defects that it may have. Many sellers are only required to disclose major structural or mechanical flaws with their property, however. Many contracts don't require sellers to call a buyer's attention to anything visible to them. If you're purchased a home, then you may wonder what options are available to you once you identify problems with it.

Before you buy

One step that you can take before signing a contract to buy a home is to have an attorney review your purchase agreement. They'll look to see if it allows you to back out of the sale if the home that you're looking to buy has problems. This is a particularly important step for you to take if you live in a jurisdiction where sellers aren't required to make mandatory disclosures of defects.

If you neglect to have an attorney review your contract before you sign it and later discover that it has defects, then you may not be able to request a release from your purchase agreement. A real estate attorney can advise you whether Oregon state law allows you to rescind your offer on a home when it's found to have certain flaws.

After you buy

Although you may think that any defects are completely your problem once you've gone to the closing table, that's not necessarily the case. You may want to bring them up with the seller. You may be able to work things out amicably between the two of you.

If you can't broker a deal with the seller on your own, then you may want to consult with an attorney. Your lawyer may find that your purchase agreement requires you to pursue mediation before you can sue the seller for failing to disclose any defects to you. If you ultimately end up having to file suit in your case, then your real estate attorney will advise you of what type of compensation that you may be eligible to receive should a jury rule in your favor.

Each jurisdiction has different disclosure requirements that sellers must meet and ways for handling situations in which they fail to do just that. A real estate law attorney can review your contract alongside Oregon state law and let you know what legal avenues you're eligible to pursue.

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