What can I do if I recently bought a home with cracked foundation but this information was not disclosed by the seller?

This crack is along one of the basement walls. Also, it was missed by the home inspector and the only reason I found out about it was because one of my neighbors informed me about previous repairs done to the wall. How should I proceed legally with this matter?

Asked on July 26, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The former owner may not be responsible or liable for this. First, even if the inspector missed it, if there is a visible crack that the inspector could or should have caught, the seller is most likely not responsible, because they are generally only liale for failing to disclose "latent" or hidden defects; defects that are visible or obvious, even if they happen to be overlooked, are ones that the buyer is presumed to have had the opportunity to see and negotiate over, and the failure to do so generally means taking the property with the fault or flaw.

Second, a seller is only liable for failure to disclose defects if the seller were actually aware of them. So if this seller were not the one to have made those previous repairs (e.g. they were made by a prior owner) and was not aware of them, they had no duty to disclose (the law does not expect or require you to disclose anything you don't know about).

Based on what you write, there is a reasonable chance you cannot hold the seller liable. However, given the likely cost of repairs, you should consult in detail with a real estate attorney, and let him/her advise you as to your rights and whether you have a viable claim.


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