08 Dec Buyer Beware: Things Sellers can try to Hide

Found your dream house, made the right offer, and you’re ready to make a down payment? Not so fast. That fantasy home can turn out to be a real nightmare after you sign on the dotted line if the seller failed to disclose that that cracked foundation or pest infestation.Here are five things sellers commonly try to hide during the sales process, and the questions you can ask to seek out the truth.

1. Leaks:
Leaky faucets, radiators, ceilings, roofs — you name it, real estate agents, brokers, and sellers might try to temporarily plug that drip to attract offers. But sometimes honesty is a better policy and shows you that the property is well-maintained. One of our realtors once showed a home in which the ceiling was falling down and she still got a ton of offers on it and made the sale by being honest that the repairs would be made soon.
Buyer can actually include their questions about a home as a condition of their initial offer.

2. Pests
The entire house looks wonderful, but believe it or not, termites could be eating away inside the walls. Disclosure laws about pests vary from province to province. Most provinces however require that sellers tell buyers about any potential infestation during the sales process.

3. “Emotional defects”
Depending on the state or province, sellers don’t necessarily have to disclose whether a not a property is haunted or if “emotional defects” such as a death or a murder occurred there.

4. Age of systems
We will sometimes see a lot of sellers try to hide the ages of water heaters and HVAC systems with two simple words: “Don’t know.”
But a home inspector could find out that information very quickly. Neill says she and her buyers tend to get a good sense of the selling side from the property disclosure.
When it states the bare minimum, we know we are either dealing with a disconnected or uninvolved seller who doesn’t really know their home or with a seller who knows there are issues and doesn’t want to disclose them.

Questions You Should Ask:

Don’t just limit your questions to the real estate agents — ask your potential new neighbors about the home as well. Buyers should first ask three sets of neighbors key questions, including: ‘Why are the sellers moving?’, ‘Have you seen any repair trucks there lately?’, and ‘Are there any construction problems in the neighborhood?’”

If a buyer wants to make a quick offer, but still has questions, we suggest that they can actually write that as a condition of their initial offer that those inquiries can be answered at a later date before close. Being diligent in getting questions answered is an important piece of the puzzle for buyers, who should take every opportunity to get to know as much about the house they are buying from the person who knows it best: the seller.