Despite urban legends implying the opposite, the person selling you a house does not have to tell you that they believe there are poltergeists inhabiting the property. However, they do have to tell you about known defects with the property that will affect its value or your use of the property.
Whether there is an issue with the foundation or faulty seals on some of the windows, the sellers should pass along all the information that is relevant to the transaction in writing so that you can make an informed decision. If a seller does not disclose a major issue with the property, you may only discover it long after taking possession.
How do you hold a seller accountable for not telling you about known issues with the property?
You can take them to civil court
California state law clearly requires thorough disclosure of real estate defects and any information that could affect the price. Even in cases where someone has died at the property, and the death could affect the sale price, the seller may have to tell the buyer what happened there. Written disclosures are a standard part of the home sale process.
Sellers who don’t warn buyers about known issues with the property open themselves up to civil litigation later. You may require expert witnesses or statements from contractors or neighbors who discussed the issue with the prior owner to establish that they knew about the defect.
Provided that you can convince the courts that the seller would have reasonably known about the issues with the property, you can hold them financially accountable for the repairs or the negative impact those issues have on the property’s value.
Learning more about the rules that apply to real estate transactions in California will help you know when you need professional assistance to resolve a dispute over a recent real estate purchase.