Steps to Take When You Discover a Latent Defect After You Buy a Home

Steps to Take When You Discover a Latent Defect After You Buy a Home

As a new homeowner, the last thing you want is to discover something is seriously wrong with your property. When the problem is severe, and you have reason to believe the seller knew about it before you bought the property, you can feel deceived. In this situation, it’s essential to know what steps to take when you discover a latent defect after you buy a home.

Review the Seller?s Disclosure

Arizona law requires sellers to disclose material facts about their property before the sale. The courts consider a material fact to be something that a reasonable person would want to know before buying a home. Arizona residential purchase contracts ordinarily include a section called the Seller Property Disclosure Statement, or “SPDS” that the seller will complete and provide to the buyer within three days of acceptance of the contract. The seller has to list all known material defects here.

What is a Latent Defect?

A latent defect is a problem that could not be found through a reasonable inspection of the property. When a seller completes an SPDS he or she is also guaranteeing that he or she has disclosed all latent defects. If a serious defect is not listed on the SPDS, the seller either did not know about it, or knew and failed to disclose it to the buyer.

Determine if the Defect was Known?

If you discover significant problems, you may automatically believe the seller knew and deliberately failed to disclose. However, not all issues are easy to detect. For instance, if you find there is water damage and mold several feet into your air ducts, this may be something your inspector and the seller could not see. Likewise, you may start to notice doors sticking or cracks in your walls that indicate foundation damage. Unless you or the seller paid for specialized inspectors, issues with mold and foundation could have gone undetected. However, there could be other issues, such as a skylight or window that the seller knew would leak when there was heavy rain. If the seller failed to tell the buyer about this issue and then the buyer’s property is damaged during a storm, the seller may be liable for the damage. Unfortunately, there can be situations where a seller was probably aware of the latent defect. Still, without evidence or their admission, it can be challenging to prove the seller?s actual knowledge.

What to do if You Discover a Defect

If you do find a major problem with your home, take immediate steps to ensure you and the other occupants of the residence are safe. For example, if you are concerned about something such as faulty wiring, a gas leak, or toxic mold, leave the area and seek the assistance of professionals who can help you manage the situation.

If it is safe to do so, take photos and videos of the condition before it is repaired. If you cannot take pictures or video footage yourself, ask the professionals you are working with to do this for you. You should also contact an Arizona real estate attorney who can help you examine the situation and review any available documentation and evidence.

Laura B. Bramnick is an Arizona real estate attorney with the expertise to help with all aspects of your Arizona real estate matter. 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.


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