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What protects you from hidden problems with a home purchase?

| Jan 22, 2021 | Real Estate Law

Sometimes there can be surprises in store when you find the home of your dreams. If you do not spot them soon enough, they could cost you dearly.

What measures can you take to reduce the risk of a nasty shock after you have signed on the dotted line? Are there any safety guards in place that protect homebuyers?

Contingency clauses allow you space to look for hidden defects

Contingency clauses allow you to back out without penalty when closing on a home. You can set them up to cover different circumstances. One should cover the discovery of hidden defects during the home inspection. 

Contingency clauses can be as broad or as narrow as you like, but make sure that you use them. Give yourself some time to make sure you’re getting what you think you’re buying.

Homeowners must disclose known defects by law

Connecticut law requires homeowners to disclose certain home defects to a buyer. They must complete a form called a Real Estate Property Condition Disclosure. Here are some of the issues they must mention:

  • Flooding issues
  • Protected status
  • Structural issues
  • Pest problems
  • Damage due to rot, fire, smoke or water
  • Issues with systems such as heating or hot water
  • Toxic substances such as lead or asbestos

The law does not expect a home seller to know everything about their property, even if they have lived there for years. That is why you should always seek advice when closing on residential real estate and always have a home inspection.

What happens if you discover a defect after you have bought the house?

If you discover a hidden defect once the home is yours, you might feel the previous owner should have known about it. If you can show that they knew about it but failed to mention it, you may be able to file a lawsuit to seek compensation.