Futterman, Sirotkin And Seinfeld, LLP
Futterman, Sirotkin And Seinfeld, LLP

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Property sellers have a duty to disclose defects

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2021 | Real Estate |

Buying residential real estate in the Queens area or the surrounding New York City boroughs is an important and costly investment.

In addition to buyers wanting to get what they bargained for, they no doubt expect their home itself will be a safe and healthy place to live. They also may be counting on their investment appreciating over time so that, eventually, they can get a return on their equity.

If it turns out that a house has defects that the buyer did not know about, there can be serious financial and emotional fallout. It could cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair a major structural or other problem.

Additionally, a family may have to find temporary lodging and may also lose some of the value in their real estate investment. In the worst case scenario, a defect may compel a family to purchase a new home.

Sellers cannot rely on “let the buyer beware” and hide the condition of the home

In former days, unless a seller outright lied about the condition of a home, a buyer was responsible for checking out possible defects. If the buyer did not notice the problem until it was too late, the buyer was out of luck.

However, New York law now requires the seller accurately to complete a disclosure form and provide it to the buyer. When done correctly, this form gives the buyer important information about the condition of the home.

The form addresses items that may lead to title disputes or difficulties with regulatory authorities.

However, it also covers other common costly defects in a home that a seller might not otherwise want to tell the buyer, such as whether there is a leaky basement or serious problems with the roof or air conditioner.

While the disclosure form alone is not the same as a seller’s warranty, it can be valuable evidence if a buyer discovers a problem with the home shortly after closing the sale. It can help form the basis for a legal claim for compensation.