Buying a property can feel like a minefield where one false move will blow your savings. The law also makes provisions to reduce the risk of buying real estate. It requires owners to disclose certain issues that they know about.
While there may be problems with the property that the seller doesn’t know about, reading their disclosure report is a good place to start.
What problems are covered?
Here are some of the issues that sellers must disclose:
- Problems with water supply or sewage: You need to be able to bring clean water in and get rid of your waste without leakage.
- Structural problems: Buildings don’t last forever, so you need to understand if there is imminent maintenance needed.
- Toxicity issues: Soil and groundwater can get contaminated, making living in a particular property bad for your health. Substances such as asbestos and lead used in the building of the house should also be declared as they too can harm your health.
- Risk of damage by natural phenomena: If a property is likely to be washed away the next time severe flooding occurs, then you need to know.
- Legal issues: Violations of zoning or disputes over boundaries can all make a property problematic to buy, so again the seller must declare them.
Unfortunately, not all sellers are honest. If you only discover a problem once you’ve bought the property you may want to explore your legal options. It could be the seller did not know, or it could be they chose not to disclose it. Remember you also need to commission a survey yourself to reduce the chance something gets by you.