What happens if the seller failed to disclose problems before you bought the home?

Remember the inspection you paid for or the seller paid for before purchasing your current home? Do you recall the itemized, full disclosure forms and explanations provided by the previous owner?  Now that the heavy rains started and you have a very leaky roof and leaky windows, you are wondering why these defects were not disclosed at the time of the sale.  Who is responsible now?  Are there other problems with your home that were not disclosed and that you do not know about?

Determine who owns the problem.

In California, the seller is required to disclose all defects found in, on, and around the property. But what if the home’s seller and the agent fail to disclose defects. Maybe property improvements were made but were not up to code. Or, they were not made in compliance with current laws or worse, permits were not issued or finalized.

Refer to paperwork from the sale.

Situations like this are not always black and white.  A failure by the seller to disclose material defects in your home is a good reason to have an experienced real estate attorney working on your behalf.

Review the Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA) you signed before purchasing your home. This is a document required in most California real estate transactions.  It might include important provisions for dispute resolutions such as mediation. A real estate attorney will know what to look for.

Mediation can lead to a realistic compromise.

You and the seller agree to resolve a dispute through mediation. Mediation is voluntary and shows a willingness of both parties to try to reach a mutually agreeable solution. If you initialed the arbitration clause in the paperwork, you cannot seek damages from the seller in court.  Instead, your matter will be decided by an arbitrator without the benefit of a jury of your peers.

Mediation can be handled through any mediation provider both parties agree upon. Any mediation fees are to be split equally.  You want an experienced real estate attorney and her expert contractor to completely evaluate your home for all problems not disclosed, work with you in deciding the best mediator and then attend the mediation with you.

Know Your Rights. Protect Yourself.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Real Estate Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Mary Catherine Wiederhold
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Courtney Brown
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