Buying real estate often involves multiple professional examinations of the property, as well as thorough disclosures provided by the seller. The purpose of appraisals and disclosures is to protect people from getting taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals.
A piece of real estate that seems appealing upon visual inspection could turn out to be a money pit due to serious issues like a sinking foundation. Anyone selling a piece of real estate with defects has an obligation under Florida law to advise the potential purchaser of any known defects in the seller’s disclosure.
Unfortunately, some people may intentionally leave off major issues in the hope of securing a faster sale or commanding a higher price for a piece of property. If a seller or their agent seems to have intentionally misrepresented the condition of the property to you, you may want to take action against them.
Can you show that the seller had knowledge of the defect?
The more severe and obvious the issue with your property, the more likely it is that the prior owner had knowledge of the issue. Especially if there are half-hearted repairs made to temporarily stave off recurring problems, you may be able to demonstrate to the courts that there is no way the seller could have lived in the home or maintain the property without knowing about the defect.
It may also be possible to reach out to neighbors who can confirm that everyone in the area knew about the issue or defect. It could even be possible to connect with contractors who performed maintenance or provided quotes to the previous owner regarding the cost of addressing the issue to show the courts that it was intentionally left off the disclosure.
Intentional inaccuracies are also important to note
Sometimes, a seller will indicate the roof was new in recent years, but you later learn it was 10 years older than they claimed. Did they list the property as having hardwood floors, which you have since discovered were really laminate or cheap lookalike flooring?
Maybe they did something else inappropriate, like switch out fixtures or downgrade the appliances when you purchased the home. All of these issues can impact the value of your home and how much you would pay for it.
You may be able to recoup the cost of repairs through the courts
Major, hidden defects or intentional omissions from a disclosure can drastically affect the value of a property. It isn’t that unreasonable to claim that you would not have purchased a property with major defects or that you would have offered substantially less for it had you known about the issue.
Taking legal action about an undisclosed defect could mean recouping the difference between the realistic price of the property with the defect and the price you paid. Other times, you may have the option of seeking reimbursement for the money you have spent to repair the property.