What to Do If You Bought a House, Then Discovered a Problem That the Seller Didn’t Disclose
If you purchased a home, then weeks, months, or even years later, you discovered an issue that wasn’t disclosed to you, you may feel devastated and angry. Here are some options to explore.
Learn about the Laws in Your State
Laws regarding real estate disclosures vary from state to state. In some cases, the seller and the listing agent have an obligation to disclose any known defects with a property to a potential buyer. Other states only require sellers to disclose certain types of material defects, not every single problem that exists.
It’s possible that the seller wasn’t aware of the issue. You may, however, find evidence that the seller knew about the defect and deliberately concealed it. For instance, if a fresh coat of paint was used to hide mold or water damage, that can be convincing proof that the seller was aware of the issue and intentionally covered it up.
You should have had the house inspected before you moved ahead with a purchase. If the home inspector failed to identify a problem that a qualified inspector should have found, the inspector may be found liable.
Before you blame the inspector, read over the report. The inspector might have noted something that you overlooked at the time, or the issue might have fallen outside the inspector’s purview. A home inspector is only required to look for major issues and doesn’t routinely check for things like mold and pest damage.
Find out If the Problem Is Covered by a Warranty
If the previous owner had a home warranty that was transferred to you, or if the seller bought a warranty for you as a condition of the sale, the problem that you found might be covered. In that case, you should be able to have it repaired with little or no out-of-pocket expense.
Discuss the Issue an Attorney
If the problem that you discovered isn’t covered by a warranty, you can explore legal options. If you believe the seller deceived you, an attorney can seek financial compensation for costs associated with the undisclosed problem.
You might be able to resolve the issue through negotiations or mediation, or you might have to go to court. Filing a lawsuit can be a lengthy and expensive process, so it’s better to explore other avenues first.
If you have reason to believe that the listing agent lied to you or failed to disclose a known problem as required by state law, you can take action to hold the agent accountable. Depending on the circumstances and the state where you live, the real estate agent’s license might be revoked.
If you believe the fault lies with the home inspector, the inspector might be held liable. The extent of the home inspector’s financial liability will depend on state law.