Home Buying in Norfolk>Question Details

Veni Vedi Ve…, Other/Just Looking in Norfolk, VA

What is the responsibility of the listing Realtor to disclose to buyers an issue like running bamboo?

Asked by Veni Vedi Veci, Norfolk, VA Thu Jul 16, 2009

Say a property has running bamboo and the realtor cuts down all of the random shoots (rhizomes still intact) dispearsed through the entire backyard , coming up from the deck, and from the side of the house. What is his or her responsibility with regard to disclosure to any prospective buyer or buyer with a ratified contract? Does the Realtor take responsiblity for this or pass it along to the Home inspector? Who in the end is responsible?

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What ever happened to taking responsibility for your own actions? Why are so many people always looking for someone to blame? I'm curious to know why so many folks think cutting bamboo is hiding it...and not just cutting it. As agents, we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't. Personally, I don't think it's a big deal and unless my seller client told me that the bamboo somehow affected the integrity of the structure and no repairs were ever made, I wouldn't tell anything. The buyers and their inspectors have eyes just like the rest of us. Why open a can of worms unnecessarily?
4 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 25, 2012
This post does not even deserve a reply. I hope I never run into this person much less do business with her. I will be sure to remember her name as I own property in Virginia.
Flag Mon Apr 7, 2014
Phyllostachys is the invasive running bamboo. It will damage structures and foundation rapidly underground.
yellow groove, & golden bamboo are the common names of the 2 we are seeing invading.
The same, except its all yellow groove in the Northeast. Phyllostachys is the genus.
We have had a buyer back out 3 days before closing in Conn. This is a destructive aggressive alien invasive.
It will grow into septic, sewers, and under structures. Damage is severe and worse each successive year.
Towns are banning new plantings, and ordinances. This is giant cold hardy timber bamboo. -15 below 0
Kills everything, destroys all assets as it invades underground rapidly. Very hard to eradicate.
Bobcat and years of follow up. Cutting does not work, they shoot back over night. Very serious.
http://www.susanstone.com/BlogDetail.aspx?id=4586&htmlfi…
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 7, 2012
I don't think they have any responsibility. You have to look at it from the prospective of disclosing known problems. I don't see bamboo as a known problem with the structure or property. Now if someone had a horticulture background, they might have more knowledge whether or not that is an issue. But from my standpoint there is nothing to disclose.

It isn't the home inspectors job either, after all, they are just familiar with the home and not vegitation around it.
I think some of it comes down to you, were you aware it could be a problem and did you address it?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 16, 2009
I applaud your Latin! I always like to say, "All Santa Rosa is divided into 4 quadrants"! An agent has no business in doing gardening! How do you know it was the listing agent that cut it? It should have been on the disclosures if you couldn't see it. You have a reason to be miffed, that stuff is in my front yard too! If you can prove the agent cut it, call their broker and complain. If the seller cut it so you couldn't see it, call your broker!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 12, 2012
Hi Terry Bell, I have created a new facebook page for people to get the facts on just how serious Invasive running bamboo is. I am an Invasive Bamboo Research Specialist. You can find this at :
Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research. We had two sales fall through recently for Phyllostachys Invasive running bamboo. I have applied for a property tax appeal this week for 60 percent stigma on two lots. They are regulating it all through New York now. I am seeing all yellow groove, although in California you may have the golden bamboo..Very close.
Flag Thu Mar 15, 2012
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 12, 2012
http://www.northshoreoflongisland.com/Articles-News-i-2012-0…

Banning it from town to town rapidly now...DO NOT PLANT
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 9, 2012
Damage to Foundation Document here:

http://aaahomedrainage.com/bamboo-planted-near-your-foundati…

Will post damage photos at a later point , if the site allows.

In Long Island there are entire neighborhoods where they cannot sell.
All Phyllostachys yellow groove.

Here is Haverford, Penn...NEW...Damages structures and foundation. Very serious.
http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video/#!/news/weird/Bamboo-Ba…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 7, 2012
Still yet another example of why all properties should be sold “as is” or at a minimum the discloser page should be limited to roofs, foundations and septic systems with limited answers on the actual document and the new document being a 1 page document. (If more detail is needed ask in a separate document) Everyone wants to lawyer up & sue others, in our area lawyers go through the 8 page document line by line and state there is no why a homeowner can be an expert in all the areas defined in the discloser, most get off the hook because of the difficulty of the actual document. The KISS principle Keep it simple stupid has gone by the wayside in real estate transactions and current document contracts are close to 100 pages, you probably need a law degree to read and understand them all. In answer to your specific question under the current law the answer is to disclose all known defects, the problem may lie in the area of is bamboo considered a known defect. Ps I am not a lawyer and this response is not intended to be legal advice only my opinions, for legal advice consult an attorney.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 25, 2012
I think there's a responsibility that belongs to everyone involved with the process of buying and selling a house. Even a neighbor who knows about it and knows it's not being disclosed should speak up. A Realtor is a professional and should know better. The professional has a responsibility to know about running bamboo and any other potential threat to value. A listing broker, if he or she is wise should refuse to list a property without disclosing hidden defects. From a common sense point of view the happier the buyer is with their purchase the more likely the listing broker will have a new client at some time in the future. An unhappy purchaser is poison to a Realtor's reputation. Everyone in every business needs to do the right thing, even if it means losing a commission and a listing.

I am an appraiser and will inform the lender if I see it or anything that threatens value and it will likely stop the purchase. So, to the listing Realtor, you're likely to not make the sale anyway so do the right thing when taking the listing. What have you got to lose, other then your reputation.

Running Bamboo grows back. Of course if the property is inspected or appraised at a time when the bamboo has been cut down anyone involved at that time cannot be held responsible. The last eyes in the home buying process is the appraiser. The appraiser protects the lender (or should) and that means being knowledgeable about all kinds of threats to the subject's value. Even if the running bamboo is not on the property but next door it becomes a potential external obsolescence and should be noted. There is a growing stigma associated with running bamboo as public education gets the word out. In my opinion, as an appraiser, that will affect the value opinion. Our personal responsibility to each other goes beyond the limits of our professional ethics.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 24, 2012
Not an attorney, so this isn't legal advice, but it sounds like a good question for an attorney. Here's my take on it (as a business person). If the agent removed vegetation, he/she is obviously trying to hide something - we all know that cutting a plant at the surface doesn't kill it, there's still SOMETHING underground--it's how plants work and we learned that in elementary school, didn't we? On the other hand, I can see an agent thinking they are cutting away the ugly plants and not really giving any thought to what lies beneath or the fact that the type of plant they just cut was invasive, to them it was just ugly and not helping to sell this house. (When it comes to who is responsible for proving what, that's where the attorney comes in to answer.)

Interestingly, you asked about the listing Realtor. If the listing agent is indeed a Realtor (not all agents are) then they subscribe to a higher standard and may have a greater responsibility. That said, I've seen agents fain ignorance about many subjects (that I think they should know as a functioning adult in US society) because "that's not their field of expertise" which basically means, I don't want to give you an answer because it could make me liable. Under that line of reasoning, the agent isn't a botanist, and therefore may not realize that this is bamboo and it's impossible to get rid of.

By the way, there is one way I know of for getting rid of bamboo, but the EPA doesn't allow it to be used any more.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 23, 2009
Wow, great question, and I want to begin by stating I am not an attorney, nor am I giving any legal advice. However, my opinion is this. If the Realtor felt they had to "hide" the bamboo's existence, then they shoud disclose. If, on the other hand, it was just mowing to make the yard look more presentable, no disclosure. If ANYONE knows of structural integrity issues due to this bamboo, then disclose. My neighbor had some damn vine thing that eventually crushed my fence, and every year I would have to cut growth from between my deck and cut this thing back. But in the spring, it had pretty flowers, I just learned to live with it, and when I sold, it never even crossed my mind to disclose it. That poor guy is probably cursing her (my old neighbor) three times a year as he cuts back that darn plant, yet for 3 weeks in the spring, enjoying the heck out of the fragrant flowers. Hope this helped some, Jim
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 25, 2009
If the realtor does the unlikely thing of personnally remove the bamboo in the back yard , he or she must be knowledgable of the problems that bamboo can cause.
Since there are no disclosure questions about vegetation it is unlikely that the issue will show up on the document.
The inspector will not notice it and can not be responsible .
The new owner could start a legal procedure after the problem shows up, and indeed damage because of this would be discovered.
Anyone with deep pockets or insurance can be named and the realtor will be one of them.
As always: buyer beware. Ask your own real estate agent about anything you might think off and you might have a better chance to buy a good property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 24, 2009
Great POVs! I ask because I know of a property that has it. When I looked at the property the bamboo was everywhere in the back yard extending from a main cluster. It was coming up from under the deck and from under the side of the house. I randomly met a individual who's buying it and I asked this person about it. Only remembers seeing the cluster. I know that running bamboo, if not contained is very invasive and destructive. It sends out a root system everywhere and then shoots grow up looking for light. If it grows under a house or deck, it can ruin the structure. I've read and heard from a nursery and an arborist that the only way to remove it, is to permenantly remove the soil up dug three feet deep. Essentially for this property the entire backyard needs to be dug up and if it's under the deck and the house, I'd hate to suggest what needs to be done there. All in all it translates in to big dollars to remove, not to mention the legalities involved if this stuff is invading your now neighbor's property. Do you think there's still time for this person to walk away from this house? Closing is in three weeks.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 16, 2009
Veni,

When purchasing a home it is a fact that the more pairs of eyes you have evaluating it the greate your level of protection....this is why a title search is done, a structural inspection is done, a WDO inspection is done, septic and wells are inspected etc. etc.

It's unclear to us who is responsible for identifying moles, poison ivy, or bamboo. Our recommendation is to refer to the "seller's disclosure" information to determine if this was or should have been disclosed in this document.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 16, 2009
I don't think bamboo is a disclosure requirement, nor do I believe the home inspector has any liability. I think you probably visited the home prior to purchasing it, and should have observed the bamboo as something you did not like, and addressed it prior to purchasing the home. Bamboo is vegetation just as weeds or overgrown grass.
Web Reference: http://www.clovelake.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 16, 2009
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