if a seller knows of problems with a house are they obligated to tell the buyer or is it find it on your own if you can.

Asked by Bklynpeople, Brooklyn, NY Tue Jan 29, 2013

problems relate to health and safety items

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Mitchell Fel…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Tue Jan 29, 2013
I also want to point out that the $500.00 several of the agents have referred to is NOT a fine. It is an option that the home seller has as per New York State law. This is pertaining to the New York Property Condition Disclosure Statement Law.

There is a form associated with this law, this link will show it to you:

As it states in the form, homeowners have the option of either filling out the form, or if they want they can opt not to fill out the form and instead give the purchaser a $500.00 credit at the closing. Most sellers choose the latter option at the advise of their attorney. The reason why attorneys usually advise the seller against it is because many of these questions are hard to answer and the seller is not required to find out the answers if they do not know. For many of these questions the seller will have to simply check off "unknown." Lawyers are fearful that if an issue is found after the fact, even if it was not known by the seller, that the buyers may feel that the sellers shoudl have know or did know and they will then try to start a lawsuit (this is America where everyone sues everyone right?). Hence, since the option of giving the $500.00 instead is there, lawyers will always advise their seller clients to take that option.

In my opinion this law is flawed, they should have either not put the law in effect or simply required all homeowners to fill out the form and not give the option to opt out. Regardless of that, buyers should not be scared if the seller opts out of the form, take it for what it is worth. No matter what, you should always have the home inspected before you enter into a contract of sale to make sure there are no hidden problems. Remember, just because the sellers think there are no issues with their home, there many still be a hidden problem that even the seller is not aware of. For this reason, buyers always have to think "caveat emptor" and do their due diligence to make sure the condition of the property is satisfactory.
1 vote
Gina Muphy, Agent, New Orleans, LA
Tue Jan 29, 2013
Seller must disclose any and all known problems of a home to a buyer. Always get a inspection report.
0 votes
Kawain Payne, Agent, Seal Beach, CA
Tue Jan 29, 2013
Seller MUST disclose any information they have regarding the condition of a home they are selling.

Failure to do so can bring the seller major problems down the road.

If you are selling a home that has some issues , please disclose it. Price the home to reflect the needed repairs. Some buyers are looking for fixers because they can get them at below market value.

Be fair and honset, it goes a long long way!!!!!

Kawain Payne, Realtor
0 votes
Mitchell Fel…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Tue Jan 29, 2013
Dear Bklynpeople:

Yes, if there is a physical defect in the property that the seller is aware of, the seller must disclose said defect to the perspective purchaser. It is as simple as that. The same is true for real estate agents. If you have further questions feel free to contact me direct.

Mitchell S. Feldman
Associate Broker/ Director of Sales
Madison Estates & Properties, Inc.
Office: (718) 645-1665/ Cell: (917) 805-0783
Email: MitchellSFeldman@aol.com
0 votes
Jacques Ambr…, Agent, Forest Hills, NY
Tue Jan 29, 2013
If there is a health or safety item that they are aware of they must disclose it. Of course proving that they knew about it is another story.
0 votes
Tammy Benkwi…, Agent, Somers, NY
Tue Jan 29, 2013
New York is a buyer beware state which means it is incumbent upon the buyer to the home fully inspected and do all your research before going into contract and closing.

If the seller is AWARE of a material defect they are supposed to disclose it. This is regardless of whether it not they choose to fill out the state mnadated sellers property condition disclosure form. The $500 fine is for failure to complete the form, it is not a way around disclosing what they know.

That being said, sellers really may not know of defects. For example, they might not realize they have termites until someone does a pest inspection. This is why it is critical for buyers to conduct their own inspections, hiring qualified licensed professionals. (Not uncle Bernie the jack of all trades - master of none!)

Sellers do NOT have to make repairs unless they are negotiated. However, if the house has termites, good luck selling it to anyone unless they are treated in advance. At a time when we are seeing many short sales because people cannot afford to maintain their properties, buyers will be confronted with less than perfect homes. As long as the buyer knows what he or she is purchasing, it may be worth the price and effort.

Good luck!
0 votes
Gail Gladsto…, Agent, 11743, NY
Tue Jan 29, 2013
If the Seller gives up the $500 fine and declines to fill out the Home Condition Questionnaire, it is up to you to hire a really well qualified and well reputed Home inspection engineer to find as many problems as possible.

Even new construction can be found to have issues...there is no perfect house.

The seller is only required to deal with anything environmental or structurally unsound, like active roof leaks.

The rest of the information on condition will tell you what you will need to deal with when you own the house; it is not for the seller to start repairing for you.

Feel free to call if you wish to discuss further.

0 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Tue Jan 29, 2013
What did your licensed home inspector conclude after the inspection was conducted; what is your attorney suggesting since NYS is a non disclosure, caveat emptor--buyer beware; is the seller even aware of any health issues, etc. Discuss with your attorney, he/she can better advise as it relates to the specific issues...
0 votes
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