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What must a seller disclose about property defects?

Posted on November 16, 2022

According to Statista, in 2021, there were about 6.9 million home sales in the U.S., comprising 6.1 million existing homes. There are several complex procedures involved in selling or purchasing a home. In order to increase the property value, many home sellers often upgrade or renovate the property. Nonetheless, sellers still have an obligation to disclose any known property defects that are material enough to influence the buyer’s purchase decision. 

At TdD Attorneys at Law, we enjoy providing clients with knowledgeable guidance and advocacy in real estate-related matters. Our practiced Missouri real estate law attorneys are available to discuss your specific situation and inform you about the seller’s obligation to disclose information about property defects to potential buyers. Even if you discover a serious defect after purchasing the property, our reliable legal team will fight for your best interests and help you seek damages. Our firm is proud to serve clients across St. Louis and Chesterfield, Missouri. 

Common Disclosures  

When selling a property, most federal and state laws require the seller to make certain “disclosures” to the prospective buyer. Here are some common types of disclosures sellers may need to make to a potential buyer: 

  • Damage, hazards, and faulty systems – such as foundation issues, water damage, cracks, and termite infestation. 
  • Lead paint – Federal law requires a lead paint disclosure. 
  • Homeowners’ association (HOA) governance. 
  • Death in the home – Murder, suicide, or any type of death in the house. 
  • Liens on the property. 
  • Title disputes. 
  • Repairs – such as structural repairs, roof repairs, soil movement, and foundation repairs. 
  • Property line disputes. 
  • Items that come with the property. 
  • Missing items. 
  • Nearby nuisances – such as odors, noises, and other nearby occurrences that may annoy the potential buyer. 
  • Other possible disclosures – such as drainage, easement issues, boundary disputes, and pending litigations. 

Home sellers who fail to make any of the aforementioned disclosures to the potential buyer upfront may be held liable for undisclosed home defects. 

Missouri Disclosure Requirements  

Under Missouri law, the home seller must disclose the following information: 

  • Whether the house was used for methamphetamine production, and 
  • Whether the property rests on or includes an unpermitted or permitted solid demolition landfill or waste disposal site. 

Additionally, it is illegal to market or sell a property in Missouri using misrepresentation, fraud, deception, or other unfair practices. 

When and How Disclosures are Made 

In the state of Missouri, any property owner looking to sell a real estate property must disclose all known material information and defects about the real estate to the prospective buyer upfront. The disclosure should be written and legally documented – using the Seller’s Disclosure Statement for Residential Property. Also, it must be given to the potential buyer before entering into the sale contract. 

Remedies for Concealed Defects 

As mentioned earlier, Missouri home sellers are required to disclose known defects to potential buyers upfront. If you discover an undisclosed home defect in The Show-Me State, the first thing is to find out whether the home seller knew – or should have known – about the problem. Here are the available legal remedies for concealed or undisclosed defects: 

Send Demand Letters: You or your legal counsel can send a letter to the liable party (seller) seeking payment or reimbursement for the costs of repairing the home defect. 

File a Claim: You can reach out to the HOA, insurance company, or home warranty company to file an insurance claim. This will allow you to seek financial compensation for the repair cost and other possible damages. 

Mediation: Through mediation, every party involved in the home defect issue will come together to discuss a feasible resolution. A neutral third party – mediation attorney or mediator – will help negotiate a possible compromise or attempt to resolve the problems. 

Litigation: However, if the other alternative dispute resolution options fail to yield any satisfactory result, you can file a lawsuit. If you go to court, you may need to establish fault in your undisclosed home defect lawsuit by proving that: 

  • The home defect existed before the real estate transaction. 
  • You couldn’t have noticed the defect easily. 
  • The seller knowingly concealed or failed to disclose the home defect. 
  • You relied on the information you were provided with. 
  • You have suffered financial losses and other damages due to the home defect. 

A well-read attorney can explore your possible legal options to seek remedy and guide you through the legal processes involved. 

Get Reliable & Knowledgeable Legal Help 

Finding undisclosed defects after buying a property can be very frustrating. Thankfully, buyers who discover a material defect after completing the real estate transaction may be eligible to seek damages by taking appropriate legal action against the home seller, real estate agent, or home inspector. A practiced real estate attorney can evaluate your available options to recover damages and help determine the best course of action. 

With over 30 years of combined experience, our attorneys have the expertise and resources to advise, direct, and represent clients in challenging real estate matters involving undisclosed defects. As your legal team, we can evaluate and investigate all of the facts of your case, explore your options to recover damages and help establish that the defects existed before the home sale and the seller failed to disclose them. Our skilled attorneys will fight vigorously to protect your rights and help you recover the monetary damages incurred. 

If you discover an undisclosed defect after buying a property, contact TdD Attorneys at Law today to arrange a simple case assessment. Our dedicated legal team provides the personalized legal direction and dependable advocacy you need in your case. We’re proud to serve clients across St. Louis and Chesterfield, Missouri.