The market has been crazy the last couple of years. As a result, buyers would often see a property once, have 24-48 hours to review disclosures, and make a non-contingent offer. This meant that they had no inspections before going into contract. Often the disclosures were hastily read with little time to ask questions.
Representing buyers, I would try to slow things down a bit and work with them to understand the disclosures. If I saw a situation where sellers essentially disclosed no negative items about their property, I would warn the buyers that these sellers were likely not being forthcoming since there is always at least one thing about a property that is not quite right. It is so important for buyers to take their time and read the disclosures carefully. Now that the market has slowed, buyers will have more time to review disclosures and even to get inspections which is a good thing!
What are some of the things buyers should look out for? Square footage numbers can vary depending on the source – is it from public records, an appraiser, a floorplan designer or someone else? If it is from a seller or an agent, that’s a red flag since neither should be measuring the property they are selling. Don’t depend on that number to be accurate.
They should leave it up to professionals or the public records. Definitely look out for the “unwarranted rooms” with low ceilings that are staged like a bedroom. Just because it is staged like a bedroom doesn’t mean it is legally a bedroom or should be used as a bedroom.
Since Halloween is around the corner, I am reminded of a home on the coast where the seller did not disclose that there were hundreds of bats living under the roof – that’s right – hundreds! In response to a question on the Seller Questionnaire asking whether there were past or present problems with wildlife, insects or pests, the seller answered, “no.”
However, the buyers’ contractor noticed something on the ceiling and told the buyers that he thought there were bats above the ceiling. When the husband asked the seller who walked in at the end of an inspection about possible bats, she replied that there were a few around the side. After they bought the home, they noticed a lot of bat guano (excrement) on the balcony outside the front living room which wasn’t there during open houses. The seller must have been cleaning it up before the open houses and hiding the truth.
When you are buying a home, read the disclosures, ask questions, be curious and be a little cynical because unfortunately, everyone doesn’t tell the truth. If you are looking for someone who is trained as a lawyer and pays attention to details, please don’t hesitate to give me a call!