Home Buying in 02122>Question Details

April, Home Buyer in 02121

Does a realtor have to disclose important info from home inspections done by previous buyers to current buyers?

Asked by April, 02121 Thu Nov 22, 2012

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23
I believe as a former owner of a home inspection company now turned Realtor that a good rule of thumb is disclose disclose disclose! If we as realtors have knowledge of information that pertains to a property we are representing or have a client buying they have a right and I believe that we have a duty to inform them. Period. Our first responsibility should being honest in all of our actions and if we have knowledge of something that could potentially "kill" the deal, we need to disclose said information.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 26, 2012
Maybe. I say maybe because different states have different disclosure laws. In general though, the answer is yes but beware that what is important to you might not be important to them. Then we get to ethics, a word thrown around quite a bit. Not everyone is ethical or their ethics might be different from yours. Never depend on ethics to make things right.

You can easily get disclosures from the seller agent, you do not need a buyer agent or Realtor to get them. Simply call the seller's agent and request the information and if it is available, they should be happy to give it to you. Besides, if it is available and they don't want to cooperate, they could be passing up a sale and the seller would then have legal recourse against their seller agent. If the seller agent doesn't want to give you the information, let the seller know, finding out who owns the house is easy and they need to know if they are being represented well. These days, more and more buyers are not using buyer agents and the industry is changing.

Another thing you can do is prepare a question list and get that to the seller or seller agent and have them respond in kind. That way you avoid the misunderstanding of who things something is important and who does not.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 26, 2012
April, A seller must disclose a known defect... that being said the potential buyer's inspection is only given to the buyer directly. A diligent seller will fix a problem that comes up... but they often are not privy to someone else's inspection. You should always have a thorough home inspection by someone YOU trust.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 25, 2012
There are many inspection items that come up that it is not the sellers obligation to address, nor even disclose as some may not meet the current building codes but are working fine for the present owner.

gfi's
older roof
older electric, reverse polarity.
older windows,
driveway needs repair
improper grading
older boiler
railings to low
plainting to close to home

These are just some examples of things that come up in many inspections that people back out of deals because of and none have to be disclosed or fixed by the seller.

Again your own home inspection will be in your best interest.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 25, 2012
April,

Have your agent ask if the selling agent has a copy of the inspection, if they do, she may or may not provide it to you, but it does open up the opportunity to ask if there was anything that came up that we should know about as that may speed up our decision process.

I too wouldn't want Annette either. But then again Florida has different obligations for the seller and the buyer regarding inspection issues and who is responsible for what, than massachusetts does.

Annette selling ones home in its current condition is one thing, not disclosing material facts is another. I also would not want to be compared to most banks and how the operate.

April is doing her due own diligence by asking her question to the experts amoung us.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2012
If the Realtor received a copy of the inspection reports from previous buyers who terminated the contract because of inspection issues, this information is now deemed to be "public" and unless the seller made the repairs then ethically they are bound to disclose this information to all future potential buyers. failure to do so puts them at risk of future legal action either /or court action or having to defend themselves to the real estate commission on why they failed to do so.

Sellers (who after all don't have licenses and this have nothing to lose) are not bound to disclose anything and certainly won't appreciate their listing agent doing so, however if my sellers want to hide issues they and I know exist with the home then frankly i'm going to fire them and move on. There's simply no transaction worth my losing my license over (even temporarily) nor worth my having to go to court over.

Disclosure is an absolute requirement for licensed Realtors.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2012
If they are aware of it and only if it could materially effect your offer. Many agents have their sellers fillout a sellers disclosure stating what they know about the property and any issues. That way the seller and the agent is more protected from issues down the road.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2012
If the previous buyer shared the information with the realtor, yes, he or she does have to disclose that information. The realtor cannot disclose information that she or he was not made aware of.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 22, 2012
Disclosure is the name of the game and these types of questions seem to be trending. If the seller knows about a problem it is best to get it out front rather than hide it. If a seller has been given the reports to review and they document a known major issue then I think it is best to pass that information along as I am sure it will come up in the next report.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 4, 2013
Disclose, disclose, disclose.
Those who don't,
don't close, don't close, don't close.


(Please note: when you choose an answer as a Best Answer, or at least give a thumbs up, it helps those who answer questions here.)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 8, 2013
The listing agent is required to pass along any information about a property that is significant and could affect a decision to buy. An example might be that the basement floods during heavy rain and the agent only found out about it because the inspection occurred after a day of heavy rain (it would be prudent to list this in the disclosures section of the listing data on the MLS - and this can be added well after the original listing date). Another example might be that the previous buyer chose to do a lead paint test and the property proved positive for lead paint - this should also be disclosed in the Lead Paint disclosure statement. Last example could be that the inspection uncovered signs of termite damage- again, it should be disclosed on the MLS, and a proactive listing agent should bring in the services of a termite expert to get a professional opinion and initiate a treatment program and a structural inspection to determine what (if any) structural damage has occurred. All these issues will come up in any inspection and it is always prudent to be honest and proactive.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2012
The realtor should disclose this information.

Besides realtors can work as either a seller's agent or a buyer's agent. That means they can sell houses or help you buy one.
it is advisable that as a buyer you have your own realtor and pick on someone you trust and can dig in to find all details on the house you want to buy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 30, 2012
April

If one buyer backs out of a home sale due to a home inspection issue and the sellers are made aware of that issue the proper way to proceed for the buyer is to fix the item in question or disclose the item in question. It is the ethical thing to do.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 25, 2012
If the information is important and could greatly impact your decision, then it is going to come up anyway and they should disclose it. But otherwise, you should always have your own inspection and make a decision based on your own priorities and judgments.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 24, 2012
This is the inspectors job to disclose any info regarding the unit. Once the inspection is done they buyer's receive a copy of it.

Best Of Luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 24, 2012
The inspection is for the buyer only. Any knowledge that may impact the sale of the property must be disclosed if the owner or their agent has knowledge.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2012
Thank you all very much for your answers, they are very helpful. Except for yours, Annette Lawrence. I'm glad your not my realtor!!!!!
The story is that we put an offer in on a house a month ago. Someone out bid us. They had inspections done and then the buyers financing fell through. We were the next highest bidders and she knew we were very interested in the house so she called to let us know it was back on the market. The realtor indicated that she had knowledge of what was in the inspection report.
We have every intention of getting our own inspections done but I was curious to know how much she could/would disclose so that we could make an appropriate offer.
Once again, thank you for your advice!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2012
Good Advice, Ellen. April, if you need help finding an Exclusive Buyers Agent in your area contact http://www.naeba.org -- National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. They can refer a member in your area.
Flag Fri Nov 23, 2012
Good luck to you April. I do hope you have a buyer's agent, since the listing agent represents only the seller and, while she is required to be honest with you, is not going to go out of her way to protect you. If you have not yet written your offer please get a buyer's agent.

Ellen G. Friedman, Keller Williams Realty, ellengfriedmanhomes.com
Flag Fri Nov 23, 2012
This sounds like the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
An agent, you suggest, should be required to disclose the findings of a previous, failed adversary to a current adversary.
I've always been an advocate that home sellers be able to sell their home in the EXACT manner banks sell their stolen goods. NO DISCLOSURE WHATSOEVER!

Do your due diligence and make your offer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2012
Annette, in real estate, if you are the buyer, there is only one person involved in the transaction that will represent your best interest and that is you, the buyer. The way it often works is simple: there is a don't ask-don't tell unspoken pact that goes on in real estate. The seller's agent doesn't probe and the seller doesn't volunteer information. That way the seller's agent doesn't have to disclose something they don't know about. Everyone keeps quiet and the buyer is left with a home inspection that frankly, for practical purposes, is cursory in nature and isn't even able to determine with any reliability if mold is present inside walls. That is because inspectors can't conduct invasive inspections, yet the buyers are expected to not only offer, but also purchase a home without knowing very critical information. A home inspection is only a starting point to determine vital facts about a home's condition. "Further evaluation recommended" means do it or be sorry.
Flag Tue Nov 27, 2012
You would think this is a simple yes or no answer....

A REALTOR is supposed to disclose any latent material defects that could potential effect the value of a home.

Obviously, if you walk up to the home and the front porch is falling off that is an obvious defect, as opposed to the basement having three feet of water three years ago.

Many times home owners will walk away from home inspections over picky things, like a furnace that is running fine but is old...... that is not a disclosable issue.

Mack brings up a good point about issues being a matter of opinion.

The best defense for a home buyer, is to have a quality home inspection done on your own behalf.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2012
No.

As Ellen Friedman says below, real estate agents are only obliged to disclose defects that they know about. If there were previous buyers who walked on the inspection without telling the seller or the agent why, then there's nothing for the listing agent to disclose.

However. Some "defects" are a matter of opinion, rather than fact. A buyer may have walked because, for example, they decided they didn't want to live with single-paned windows. That's not a defect, but that's information that influenced their decision to buy the property.

So, take Megan Paul's advice, have the home inspected to your satisfaction, and take it from there. If you have any other concerns, ask your agent to ask the listing agent if they have anything to add to the disclosure form.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2012
Full disclosure of any and all known defects is the fiduciary duty of all realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 22, 2012
Hi April,

A seller's realtor does not need to disclose EVERYTHING that comes up at a home inspection, but should act ethically and disclose material defects that affect the integrity of the home. The presence of environmental hazards such as radon or mold, however, must be disclosed.

I hope this answers your question!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 22, 2012
April,

Many things can change in a home from one owner to the next. It would be in your best interest to have a licensed and bonded home inspection company complete a thorough inspection at your request. In Washington state the selling agent is required to have the seller fill out a "seller's disclosure" . It requests the seller to tell everything they know about the house. However, there may be things they don't know. I am an Exclusive Buyers Broker. I suggest that all my buyers pay for a home inspection. Recently, clients found their dream home. The offer was accepted and we immediately scheduled a home inspection. The home inspector discovered standing water in the very far end of the crawl space. We were able to write a contingency that the seller would pay for the repairs and the sale closed. Had the buyers not had the inspection, it would have been a $3000.00 disaster and would have never felt like their dream home. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 22, 2012
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