The Old Days of “Caveat Emptor”

Caveat Emptor” or “Let the Buyer Beware“, used to be the norm in real estate transactions many years ago. But nowadays, sellers in New York are under more scrutiny in their obligation to disclose certain conditions or defects about their home. Under the Property Condition Disclosure Act, sellers are required to complete and deliver to the buyer, a Property Condition Disclosure Statement, which consists of 48 questions in regards to the integrity of the structure. Many sellers whom have sold, whether or not they actually knew of any defects, are being held liable for misrepresentation in the PCDS.
Sellers may choose to not complete the statement and alternatively, credit the buyer $500 at closing. Many attorneys advise this route for their clients for the purpose of avoiding possible future litigation. Most of the questions on the PCDS are not common knowledge, and most homeowners are not professional home inspectors or expert contractors. Answering these questions with full confidence could end up costing the seller greatly. Although the Disclosure Statement is not a warranty of any kind, it still opens the doors to unforeseen headaches down the road.
From the buyers perspective, not receiving the PCDS could raise red flags and bring about doubt to the whole transaction. They may ask themselves, “What are they trying to hide?” In these cases, buyers should do their own due diligence. They should inspect further than just the surface, and most importantly, they should hire a professional home inspector. If buyers are proactive in their investigations, they lessen the chances of unexpected complications, and in turn, costly litigation.
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