February 4, 2010 by Morgan Barfield

Selling a sinkhole repaired home

In the event that you’re selling a sinkhole repaired home, you’re likely worried about how to approach the fact that the property does have a history of sinkholes without scaring off the buyer or having to settle for less than the property is actually worth. So how do you disclose all the known information about your home in an ethical way, yet also seal the deal with your buyer?

Be clear that you’re selling a sinkhole repaired home

Above all else, you are obligated to disclose this information to your buyer. While there are fine lines to this rule, it’s advised that you be careful about what information you withhold from your buyer, as you don’t want to deal with a future lawsuit.

Your obligation

The fine print about your obligation to disclose information about your sinkhole is that you need to share the information that is not available through other means. For example, if you are in the possession of a repair report that is not made publicly available for confidentiality, you must send your buyer a copy of this report before selling a sinkhole repaired home.

However, if you do not have any documentation that is legally only available to you, you could potentially argue that the buyer could have gone to the building department to pull any construction permits, all of which would have provided them the history of your home. While you would technically be acting within the law if you do not disclose the knowledge that your property has been affected by a sinkhole, I would advise you be careful about a lawsuit if any repairs failed or another sinkhole opened in the future.

Seller’s disclosure statement

Another situation you are likely to be faced with is a seller’s disclosure statement. Most homebuyers require sellers to complete this statement, which asks specifically about repairs done to the home. If you are asked point blank about any past repairs, and you either state or imply that there is no history of sinkholes only for these repairs to appear down the road, you will find yourself in a sticky legal situation in which you have, point blank, lied on a legal document.

If you’re selling a repaired sinkhole home and state that there is no history of sinkhole repairs on a seller’s disclosure statement, you cannot state that that information was public record.

The best approach

While it may be scary to share this information, there is a way to go about selling a repaired sinkhole home without giving your buyer cold feet. A great way to inform your buyer without scaring them off is to provide them with a copy of the original report provided by the engineering firm that repaired your home and certified the repair as complete. This way, you are not only being upfront and transparent about the quality of your home, but you are also providing them a reason to be confident that they will not be faced with another related issue.

However, if you never completed the repair, this does put you in a more difficult position, as a sinkhole that has never repaired is likely to get worse over time, sinking the property value of your home. If you do not feel comfortable disclosing this information, you may want to simply sell your home “as is”. When you choose this route, you are not required to submit any documentation or prove the property value of your home. You will have to drop the sale price significantly, but you will not be obligated to discuss your sinkhole.

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