You are correct in being cautious.....pay attention to your "gut feeling" and do not ignore red flags. The right thing for all sellers to do is disclose, disclose, disclose....but this isn't always the path that is followed.
As a buyer, if you have concern, consider having your agent include an addendum that specifically addresses the issue and allows you to cancel you purchase offer with no penalty to you.
Buyers should always take advantage of their opportunity for a home inspection. This will also help to protect you best interests with regards to issues of concern.
No matter what a seller or sellers agent tells you, it is in your best interest to confirm all the information. Best advice is to have either a home inspector or a mold specialist come out and take a look at the house, and you would do this after you have an accepted offer. Be sure to include a home and/or mold inspection in your offer so that if you are not happy with the results of the inspection you can back out of the contract without loosing your deposit.
Good luck to you!
-Sunny Fellman, Realtor
Cape Cod, MA
But it's your responsibility to verify the information....once you are under contract hire a professional and/or licenced inspector for structure, pest and mold.
With the assistance of a trusted real estate agent and reputable inspector, all of your questions should get answered.
Best to you, and Happy New Year!
Having said that, as a real estate agent, my advice is that you get a property inspection done. You can request a copy of the property disclosure (filled out by the sellers and legally binding) but to protect your best interest hire an inspector to come check out the complete property. The agreement of sale should have this as a contingency.
If the homes are foreclosures then the bank is usually selling them "as-is" and may not know anything about the actual condition of the home (no property disclosure available). At this point, you need to totally rely on having a good property inspection done.
Best of luck,
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
Lehigh Valley Office, PA
In any event, if you do make an offer on a home - make sure you have a home inspection contingency clause in your contract...this will protect you in case any "surprises" pop up!