Sellers hoping to close a sale will often misrepresent the value or condition of the item in question. Buyers have to be careful not to let someone take advantage of them or to make a mistake in how much they pay for a specific asset.
The risk of misrepresentation affecting someone’s life is significant when the property in question is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is plenty of motive for a seller to hide information about a property when listing a home for sale, which could easily lead to someone overpaying for a property in need of many expensive repairs.
Pennsylvania protects consumers by imposing disclosure requirements on real estate transactions. The seller has to provide certain information to the buyer or face liability for failing to do so. What does a seller have to disclose?
Pennsylvania law requires that sellers disclose material defects
Any known issue with the property is something that the seller should openly declare in writing. Three examples would include foundation problems, a recent history with pest infestations and issues with the electrical system.
Sellers should provide thorough information to prospective buyers in writing about the physical condition of every major component of the home, from the plumbing to the basement. Failing to disclose an issue in a transaction could lead to liability even in an as-is listing, and buyers could bring a claim against the seller or possibly their real estate agent depending on the circumstances.
What sellers do not have to disclose
There are certain factors that influence what people believe a property is worth that sellers do not have to tell potential buyers about. One would include crimes that occurred at the property, including a home invasion or similar criminal event that has left the community gossiping about the house. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has found that there is no reasonable way to quantify defects that affect someone’s feelings about the property.
That also means that sellers do not have to disclose deaths that occur at a property, including murders. Allegations of supernatural activity also do not fall under the mandatory disclosure rules for Pennsylvania real estate transactions.
Learning more about what sellers must inform buyers of before closing can help those who discover a defect determine if they have grounds to bring a claim regarding that issue.