Home Buying in New York>Question Details

Erin Murphy, Other/Just Looking in New York

When buying a home, if there has been flooding that results in damage and it has not been fixed, must that be disclosed to the buyer?

Asked by Erin Murphy, New York Thu Jan 24, 2013

Does this need to be disclosed if 1. The buyer does not ask about flooding. 2. the Buyer does ask about flooding?

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Tammy Benkwitt’s answer
If the seller is AWARE of a material defect - like flooding that caused damage to the house - they are supposed to disclose it. In New York State, there is a Property Condition Disclosure form that sellers are asked to complete. It asks numerous questions about potential defects in the house. However, the only penalty to the seller for not completing this form is a $500 fine the seller must pay to the buyer at closing. Just because a seller chooses not to complete the form, it does not excuse them from disclosing KNOWN defects. That beind said, if you were to try to prove a seller knew about damage and failed to disclose it, you would have a tough time.

As was said earlier, NY is still a buyer beware state and it falls upon the shoulders of the buyer to perform his or her due diligence and have the property fully inspected prior to going into contract. (Or have the contract contingent upon the inspections depending on the customs in whichever part of the state a person is purchasing.)

With regard to flooding, please check the updated FEMA flood maps to determine whether or not flood insurance will be required. Better to find that out sooner than later.

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 25, 2013
Hi Erin,

The basic theory in New York real property law is "caveat emptor," meaning, "let the buyer beware." This theory is supported by the well-settled principal that a seller has no duty to speak when the parties deal at arms length; the mere silence on the part of a seller without some act or conduct that amounts to concealment is not actionable.

Therefore, unless a seller takes affirmative action that prevents a buyer from determining the existence of an adverse condition (i.e., painting over a wall that is the subject of constant leaks), a buyer has no recourse against a seller on account of that condition.

In Manhattan, in NYC we sell properties "As Is" The purchaser must rely upon its own investigation, rather than upon the Seller's representations, with respect to the condition of the property. It may differ in other parts of the state.

Having said that, in my opinion it's often best to disclose. Honesty is the best policy. Most likely the buyer will find out any way or eventually.


Best of luck!

2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 30, 2013
Mitchell Hall, Real Estate Pro in New York, NY
NY state is a buyer beware state. Agents are required to disclose latent defects though.. it can be tough to determine because the seller may say they weren't aware of actual flooding. Get the proper inspections done, especially if there is mold and go from there.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 25, 2013
Without many details, was the damage easily visible; did you have the property inspected by a licensed home inspector/engineer, and if so, did it reveal any damages....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2013
If the damage is VISIBLE no special disclosure needs to be made. If asked of cause, if the agent or the owner have DIRECT knowledge of it, they must answer truthfully! The law requires that they do so.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2013
Hello Erin from my experience I would say yes because its always better to be safe then sorry. You wouldn't want a law suit later in the years coming at your door step. If I was your agetn I will disclose this as soon as I new it. If you dont disclose it, it could be against the law. Hope this helped
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2013

The question is a little vague but I would say yes as it would be a material defect and could impact your decision as to whether or not you want to purchase that particular home.

Janet Nation, CBR
Sailing Home Realty
Direct: 646-321-9649
Office: 516-377-4760
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2013
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