First-time homeowners are often extremely excited about buying a new place and nervous about everything involved with homeownership. You probably visited the property to inspect it and talked with your real estate representative about the condition of the property.If the home needed work, you probably factored the costs of that work into the offer that you made.
If the property seems to move-in ready, you were probably willing to pay more for it. Whether you expected to have projects when you moved in or not, finding defects that you didn’t notice and that the seller didn’t warn you about can completely alter the value of the property.
If there are foundational issues that will require tens of thousands of dollars to address or bad plumbing, do you just have to absorb the cost of repairs when a seller hid a known defect from you?
California law protects home buyers from unscrupulous sellers
Hiding problems with the property can lead people to overextending themselves and buying a place that isn’t a good fit for them. It can also mean that a seller earns a lot more than they should for the property in a sale.
California helps deter unethical seller behavior by requiring comprehensive disclosures for all real estate transaction. Even in a cash purchase or and as-is sale, the seller and their agents still have an obligation to tell you about anything they know is wrong with the property.
If they don’t, you can potentially take legal action against them to seek your losses. That might mean asking for the difference in property value given the defect or asking the seller to cover the cost of the repairs you need to perform.
How do you show that is seller violated disclosure obligations?
It can be hard to conclusively prove that someone else knew about a defect, but with help, it is possible. You might talk to neighbors to see if the previous owner ever mentioned the issue. You may also try reaching out to contractors to see if they or someone they worked with did a quote on the property recently. Occasionally, there will be evidence of a cover-up attempt, such as a mediocre plaster job hiding cracks in the foundation.
The nature of the defect and its obviousness will influence how you go about building a case against the seller who hid those defects from you.