In Florida, the seller of a house who knows of facts that materially affect the value of the property which are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer has a duty to disclose the known facts to the buyer. Unfortunately, in many cases sellers of homes do the exact opposite and attempt to hide material facts which affect the value of the property from buyers. Needless to say, it is an unpleasant situation for unwary buyers who find out the house they purchased is riddled with issues they had no way of discovering, and is therefore not worth what they paid for it. Even worse, these buyers often learn they will have to spend thousands of dollars to fix the issues affecting their newly purchased house.
At The Robertson Firm, most of the cases we handle where buyers hid material facts from sellers involve issues with water intrusion. The good news is that there are some red flags you can look for to avoid purchasing someone else’s leaky house. In many cases, buyers attempting to hide leaks from sellers use a fresh coat of paint and/or some strategically placed caulk to mask unseen leaks. If you are purchasing a stucco house and the stucco has cracking or discolorations, that is often evidence of leaky stucco. If the stucco has a brownish discoloration, that often means water is trapped behind the stucco and is rotting the wood framing of the house.
When looking at a house, pay particular attention to windows. In many cases home builders fail to properly install windows which leads to a great deal of water leakage. If you see fresh caulk around windows, beware. Also, if the drywall inside the home has discoloration around any windows, that often means leaky windows.
Although these are some tell-tale signs of hidden defects, do not rely on the absence of these signs to assume the home you are purchasing is sound. Defects that can affect the value of the house you are buying can remain perfectly hidden. If you have any concerns, you should contact a construction law attorney. At The Robertson Firm, our managing attorney, Peter Robertson, is board certified in construction law and civil trial law, and has over 30 years of experience in construction law. Additionally, Mr. Robertson has been licensed by the state of Florida as a General Contractor for over 35 years.
We are more than happy to help buyers who want to protect themselves from buying someone else’s lemon of a house. As a buyer of a house, you are likely making the biggest purchase you will ever make in your life, making the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” especially true. If you are considering buying a house and want to protect yourself, contact The Robertson Firm, where experience is the difference.