A residential home sale or purchase is often the single largest transaction in a person’s life. In addition to being the biggest expense in most family budgets, a home is where a person lives and raises their family.
When a home buyer discovers problems with a residence following a purchase, the question often arises of what a seller was required to disclose before a sale.
Seller disclosure in Ohio
Ohio law requires most home sellers to provide a standard Residential Property Disclosure Form to buyers before entering into a purchase agreement.
The form requires information about known defects or issues with the residence, such as structural problems, potential boundary disputes and defective appliances. The form also asks about the presence of hazardous materials, pests and any material defects.
The form only requires sellers to disclose known issues or defects. This means that sellers are not obligated to have an inspection to discover issues. But this also means that sellers should disclose known information that may indicate the existence of a defect or issues.
Sellers also do not have to disclose latent defects, meaning defects that are obvious. For example, if there are significant cracks in a wall that are clearly visible to any person walking through the house, it would not be necessary to affirmatively disclose the existence of the cracks.
Consequences for failing to disclosure
The consequences for failing to make required disclosures can be significant. In some instances, a purchaser who does not receive a disclosure can rescind a recently signed purchase agreement.
A purchaser can bring a civil lawsuit to recover damages, including repair costs, associated with an undisclosed defect. If the failure to disclose was intentional and fraudulent, the seller may liable for additional damages.
If you are a home purchaser who discovered undisclosed defects or a seller accused of not disclosing defects, you should immediately contact an experienced attorney. Repair costs can be substantial, so it is important to speak with an attorney right away.