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A seller’s disclosure obligation

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2023 | Real Estate Contract Disputes, Tampa Real Estate Attorney

Real estate is a large investment, so much so that buyers typically visit the property to see if it is worth the price before they make a purchase. A buyer may not have the time or the experience to inspect every defect or problem concerning the real estate. Some structural issues take time to manifest. Fortunately, real estate laws protect buyers from fraud and property defects. Florida real estate sellers are legally obligated to disclose relevant information regarding any property they sell to potential buyers.

What should a seller disclose to a buyer?

According to Florida law, sellers must disclose any significant material defects in the property, particularly the ones that are not easily visible to prospective buyers. Material defects are considerable and specific issues with a system or part of the property that might influence a buyer’s willingness to purchase the property and can significantly and adversely impact the property value. Material defects also include defects that pose unreasonable risks to people. Here are some examples of material defects:

  • Cracked foundation
  • Faulty electrical wiring
  • Rusted pipes
  • Mold
  • Septic system issues
  • Rotting wood or termites
  • Hidden water damage
  • Bad roofing
  • Presence of radon gas
  • Lead-based paint

A seller has a duty to inform the buyer about all the material defects they know about and that are not readily observable. The seller’s disclosure needs not be in writing. What matters is that they told the buyer about the issue.

What if the seller did not disclose the defect to the buyer?

Several laws in Florida outline the consequences of failing to disclose latent or material defects to buyers. If you bought a home and discovered defects the seller should have told you about, you may be able to reverse the purchase or pursue a lawsuit against the seller for damages.