Real estate disputes happen for many reasons. You may fear you will buy a home in good faith only to discover that the property has some defects the seller failed to tell you about. These flaws could cost you significantly to repair or renovate.
Fortunately, California law requires sellers to present detailed disclosure requirements. A home seller should be forthcoming on many possible issues before selling a property to you.
Defective features and structure
Sellers should reveal the presence and condition of systems like air conditioning, sprinklers and smoke alarms. California law requires the disclosure of any systems that do not function properly. Buyers need to know about obligations to repair or replace systems when they take ownership.
The state disclosure form asks about significant defects in walls, ceilings, foundations and other structural components. Sellers should list any known material defects that impact safety or value.
Naturally, you should know if there are any hazardous materials present in the home. Sellers must note asbestos, lead paint, soil contamination and radon gas. Additionally, your seller should disclose whether the home once had industrial use or chemical storage tanks.
Property lines and zoning issues
If you do not know about limits to the use of your property, you could end up in a messy dispute with other parties if you try to build on or renovate your home. State law requires the transparency of legal and zoning issues. Sellers must reveal encroachments, easements and zoning violations. They should also note if a homeowners association governs the property.
Recent deaths in the home
Sometimes homes carry a stigma because of something that happened there in the past. California law specifically requires that your seller disclose if a person died in the house within the past three years. If such an event disturbs you, it is best to know as early as possible.
Sometimes sellers leave something out by accident. If so, they can provide you with an amended disclosure to correct a good faith omission. However, there are instances when sellers intentionally omit details of a defect, which can subject them to penalties in court.