Is it the seller's responsibility to disclose if the house/condo in the flooding zone?

Asked by yiwen.gao0724, Boston, MA Thu Oct 3, 2013

is is their problem if they didn't mention it at all in the first offer agreement ? ( the one signed at the very first time, with $1000 deposit)
then the flooding informaiton suddently showed up in the purchase and sale agreement?

Thank you

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Tony Grech, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Southfield, MI
Thu Oct 3, 2013
You should refer to your purchase contract as well as the seller's disclosures provided to you at the time you made the offer.

Generally that is one of the questions that is listed on a seller's disclosure. The seller is supposed to answer this question to the best of their knowledge (Yes, No, or Unknown), however the disclosures I've seen generally have a disclaimer that says that the disclosure is not a guarantee of any sort and that the buyer should independently verify all information before purchasing.

This is my two cents and is not meant to be legal advice whatsoever:
It's possible the seller would not be aware of being in a flood zone. If they inherited the property, paid cash for it, or otherwise did not have a mortgage on the property, then they would not have a lender hounding them to require flood insurance. So they may just have been numb to the fact it was in a flood zone. They probably would have answered No or unknown. In this case they have done all they need to do and the responsibility lies fully with the buyer. If, however, they answered No and they knew fully well that the home was in a flood zone and would require flood insurance then that is an intent to deceive you. If you can prove they intentionally deceived you then that would probably be grounds to back out of the transaction and get your deposit back. If not, then you can ask to back out, but unless the seller otherwise violates terms of the purchase agreement then they can probably elect to keep your deposit or not let you out of the agreement.

You should rely on your Realtor to help you with this, and the lesson learned here as always is LET THE BUYER BEWARE.

I hope this helps!
2 votes
Jay Liu, Agent, Allston, MA
Thu Oct 3, 2013
The seller or the seller broker must disclose the property is in the flood zone to the buyer. It is very important information to the buyer because you will have to pay for the flood insurance every year.
2 votes
For your case, it is not normal. Do you have a buyer broker or buyer attorney that you are working with?
Flag Mon Oct 7, 2013
so in my case, it is not normal?
Flag Thu Oct 3, 2013
John Dean, Agent, Somerville, MA
Thu Oct 3, 2013
Well in essence it is the seller's responsibility to inform their agent about all disclosures on the property which should then be communicate via the seller's agent to all interested parties. failure to disclose known issues or conditions could be a potential problem down the road especially if it effects the homes condition or value.

If the basement had water known water problems then that should have been disclosed along with possible reasons or repair costs. If the home is in a flood zone that should be disclosed up front.
1 vote
Endre Barath, Agent, Beverly Hills, CA
Sun Feb 2, 2014
Yiwen.gao0724 I find it very interesting the different way disclosures take place in different parts of the Country. Common sense should always apply if you were the buyer would you like to know?

Keep in mind here in the Greater Los Angeles area, we have about 30+ pages of disclosures but most of those are given once there is acceptance. We even have a Natural hazard Disclosure Booklet and on the first few pages it lists in how many different natural hazards the property falls under. Keep in mind you have what is called an investigation's period and during that time you learn of many issues the property might have in addition to your own research that you discover.

Hence you can decide if you want to move forward with the purchase or not after your investigation's period end.

Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway
Beverly Hills, CA

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0 votes
Rich Carlo, Agent, West Roxbury, MA
Thu Jan 30, 2014
Yes, the seller should disclose if their property is in a flood zone. Sellers should be aware of that circumstance and the listing agent should verify if the house is in a flood zone. A good buyer's agent will also do their due diligence.
0 votes
Do you have a friend that is an attorney in Houston. My son rented a house.The realtor did not tell him the house flooded but the neighbors did. In addition, he found out the hard way, this weekend the house flooded and the owner still said my son has to rent the house and will not get the deposit. Both of his children have asthma therefore, they can not lived there. can you let me know where I could research this more. thank you.
Flag Mon Aug 22, 2016
Jennifer Fiv…, Agent, Red Hook, NY
Mon Oct 14, 2013
The seller should disclose and buyer should also do due diligence; there are resources available to checkout such information.
0 votes
James Furlong, Agent, Brookline, MA
Sun Oct 6, 2013
Yes, the seller must disclose if the property is in a flood zone. Its very unlikely that the seller would not be aware of that circumstance. A qualified buyer's agent will also be knowledgeable of those circumstances.
0 votes
Territory.c…, Agent, MA,
Thu Oct 3, 2013
Is the same agent representing the seller also representing you? If so, that is your first problem. Consider getting yourself an exclusive buyer broker that way you are guaranteed representation that is looking out for your best interest only.
If there is knowledge of the property being in the flood zone it should have been disclosed to the listing broker and therefore to potential buyer's in some way (whether on the mls listing sheet or seller disclosure). From personal experience I can tell you that the flood zone information is rarely disclosed - not sure why. Definitely lean on your real estate attorney for further guidance.

Good luck!

Territory Real Estate
Massachusetts #1 Brokerage for Home Buyer's
617 848 5407 ext 704
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