Seller’s Property Disclosure in Florida
When dealing with the process of purchasing a home or other types of property, you may be understandably nervous about the potential of sinkholes. Even if the inspection goes through with no symptoms of sinkholes, it can be difficult to know the history of a property. This is where a Seller’s Property Disclosure comes in. While a Seller’s Property Disclosure in Florida is not required by law, the educated buyer can still use this tool to be confident in the security of a property.
What the seller is obligated to tell you
According to the Supreme Court in the case of Johnson v. Davis, “where the seller of a home knows of facts materially affecting the value of the property which are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer, the seller is under a duty to disclose them to the buyer”.
In other words, if the seller knows about damages or repairs that have been done to the home that aren’t clear to you, whether they occurred under their ownership or a prior owner’s, they must tell you. The Seller’s Property Disclosure is a great way to accomplish this without confrontation – if they refuse, take that as a sign that you should look elsewhere!
Do keep in mind that because this documentation is not a requirement, it is your responsibility to pursue it. If you have a realtor, feel free to approach this subject with them. They may also be able to answer any questions you may have about this subject.
If the seller never lived in the house
If the particular house that you are interested in purchasing is not being sold by a person who lives there by a bank or investment company, be aware that they’re not going to be as knowledgeable about the property. If the house was foreclosed on, for example, the bank will likely not be a good resource for you; the only information they might have would be an inspection, which they are not obligated to share with you, being that it’s a confidential document!
In this case, while I would still advise you have the seller fill out a Seller’s Property Disclosure form, don’t put all your confidence in this documentation. Instead, it is in your best interest to invest in an inspection yourself or even attempt to contact the neighbors who may have some knowledge to share.