During October, you may have heard stories about local homes that were reputed to be haunted. Although Halloween is over, concerns about what may have occurred in a home before the sale may linger. As a seller or buyer, it’s essential to know: Does a seller have to disclose if a major crime happened in a house before a sale?
Arizona’s Disclosure Law
In Arizona, the law does not require a seller to disclose if a property is “[t]he site of a natural death, suicide or homicide or any other crime classified as a felony.” In other words, if someone died or was murdered in a home, the seller is under no obligation to tell you.” Details regarding real estate with this kind of history, or stigmatized properties, are only required in seller disclosures in a handful of states. Many of the most famous stigmatized properties, such as the Amityville Horror house, have been bought and sold several times.
What does a Seller Have to Disclose in Arizona?
Generally, a seller needs to disclose major or material issues with the home of which the seller is aware, such as termite damage, a history of flooding, or toxic mold. The disclosure does not have to include every little thing wrong with the home, but it should include information a reasonable person would find relevant when buying a home. The seller will also need to make a reasonable inspection of his or her home for latent defects.
An Arizona residential purchase contract is going to have a section called the Seller Property Disclosure Statement, or “SPDS” that the seller will complete. The seller should name any known material and latent defects in this document. However, a seller’s failure to disclose an issue is not always deceptive and may just be an innocent mistake. For example, if the seller does not have experience with roofing or the ability to get on his or her roof, he or she may not recognize that there is shingle damage in need of repair.
Once the seller completes his or her disclosure, it is then incumbent upon the buyer to use the inspection period to examine the property and determine if anything was omitted or overlooked. After a thorough inspection, the buyer and seller can negotiate as needed. If there has been a deliberate or negligent failure to disclose, you and your Arizona real estate attorney can examine the issue and determine your next steps.
Laura B. Bramnick is an Arizona real estate attorney who has experience assisting sellers and buyers during all phases of their real estate purchase. She has the skills and expertise to advise you regarding all aspects of your transaction. If you are seeking an exceptional, client-driven real estate lawyer in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sedona, and throughout the State of Arizona, contact Laura B. Bramnick to schedule your consultation.