What to do regarding non-disclosures when buying a home?

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What to do regarding non-disclosures when buying a home?

I am a second time home buyer. The home i am attempting to buy has wiring issues inside and out as well as non running water in the furnished basement. They did not disclose any of this prior to inspection. We asked in the agreement to get some of the items fixed and they stated that they were minor and would only off $500 off closing cost to cover repairs. Can some tell me is this even legal and what should be my next form of action?

Asked on September 8, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Does your contract to buy the home have an "inspection contingency" relating to items found during inspection. If it does, you have whatever rights that contingency or clause gives you, and no others; if it's the typical inspection contingency, you have the right to back out the sale without penalty if the seller will not fix the items or give you an amount of money you find acceptable as compensation for them--that is, you can terminate the contract and sale if you like. But the typical inspection contingency only gives you that recourse; it does not give you the right or power to actually force the seller to make the repairs or offer you more. They can offer you an inadequate amount if they are willing to let you walk away from the sale. Again, though, that is the typical inspection contingency; check the terms of your agreement to see exactly what rights you have.
 
If there was no inspection contingency, a failure to disclose material problems *known* to the seller would be fraud and allow you to void, or get out of, the sale if you wanted; so if the seller did not offer you something acceptable, you could potentially walk away and get your deposit back. The issue is whether 1) the seller knew of the problems (or it can be shown that logically or reasonsbly, they must have known--any seller in their position would have known), since they are only responsible for disclosing what they are aware of (no knowledge = no fraud); and 2) whether these particular items are "material" or significant, which goes to exactly what they are and cost to repair. (E.g. no water in the basement would likely be material if it would cost thousands to repair...but not if it would cost $150.)


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