Who’s responsible for undisclosed damage to house

We had a contact to purchase a short sale, but
bank denied sellers. House went to
foreclosure and was sold on court house steps.
Investors won the auction, we made a deal with
investors same day to purchase home from
them for 37,000 over what they purchased for.
We closed on our home December of 2016
with a VA loan. Fast forward 4 months and we
find that both A/C units zone 1 2 are broken
and need to be replaced. In getting estimates
we are told by multiple contractors that not only
are the condensors completely devoid of
refrigerant but that the system was installed
incorrectly. There is a 4 ton unit outside but the
inside A/C for zone 1 is only 3 ton.
My question is, how was this not caught by
home inspection and is there anyone we can
hold responsible for this undisclosed damage?

Asked on May 19, 2017 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There most likely is no one you can hold resposible in this case: 
1) The sellers--you bought from investors "the same day" as they won the auction. Since they never lived there and you purchased so quickly, they would have had no opportunity to discover this problem and therefore would not be liable for not disclosing it: you are not liable for not disclosing what you yourself did not know.
2) The inspector--inspectors do not, are not expected or required to, and generally are protected by the terms of their contracts for liability from a failure to, open up A/C to check on refrigerant, or to evaluate size vs. need. This is a specialized HVAC evaluation, not what a home inspetor does. And even if they were liable, their contracts generally limit liability to, at most, what you paid for the inspection.


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