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Foundation damage: When can you sue a seller?

On Behalf of | Jul 20, 2022 | Residential Real Estate |

If you have purchased a new home from a seller and had an inspection that showed that it was in good condition, you may be devastated if you find that the foundation has problems later.  Sellers are obligated to state when there are foundation issues (as well as issues elsewhere on a property).  If they didn’t know about the problems, they may not be responsible for your finding issues later.  Instead, the inspector could be held accountable in some cases, or you might need to use your own homeowner’s insurance to handle repairs.

There are exceptions to the rules, though.  For example, if the seller didn’t disclose any previous repairs and your inspector missed the damage because it was hidden in some way, you may be able to take legal action.

What should you do when you find foundation issues?

The first thing to do is to understand that you need to address the issues immediately.  Check your home’s warranty and any manufacturer’s warranties you have.  If any of these cover foundation repairs, you may be able to get the foundation fixed rather than going to court to handle a major lawsuit.

Alternatively, if you think you have evidence that the seller lied about the property or covered up damage without disclosing past problems, then you may be able to use their nondisclosure against them in court and ask to undo the sale or make them cover the cost of repairs.

Before going to court, get a good look at your property

Now that you know there is one big problem, you should look for evidence of other issues.  Look for roofing issues, environmental hazards, faulty wiring and other large issues.  Also note any signs of covering up damage to hide it from the inspector, such as a new coat of paint over a cracked area or the use of spackle in a crack to make it look smooth. Seeing those things could help you prove that there was an intentional cover-up of the damage.

As a buyer, you have some protections even after the sale of the home is completed.  If the seller lied or defrauded you, you could have a case.

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