Do sellers ever lie on disclosures? A cautionary tale...

Real Estate Agent with Leigh Brown & Associates, RE/MAX Executive

So I represented some buyers in a purchase a few years back, a home in one of Charlotte's toniest neighborhoods. You know the kind-where the homeowners often trade homes without them ever hitting the open market-and where the busybodies know EVERYTHING.

It had a basement.  A rarity in the Charlotte area.  Unfinished, it was serving as a workshop, and was a walk-out to the backyard.

We were in the middle of a 4-year drought. (do you see where we're going here?)desert

The seller said he had NEVER had a moisture problem in the basement, no mold, no mildew, and certainly no flooding!  The inspection went well, no moisture problems detected (again, we're in year 3 of a 4 year drought, so everything was dry, dry, dry).

The buyers bought the house, everyone was happy.


Almost a year later, the rains came.noahs ark

And the basement, well, it flooded!! 

My buyers were down there with buckets trying to get it under control.  Because buddy, it was pouring.  Record rains in that month.  The next-door neighbor strolled over, seeing them working so hard, and said:

"You mean Tom never got that moisture problem fixed?"

Well, this was quite interesting.  Tom was still maintaining that the basement had never flooded in his 30 years in the house, but the neighbor begged to differ!  One attorney's letter later and one witness firmly supporting my clients, and Tom paid for the professional waterproofing job to be completed on that house.  To the tune of some $6000.

Moral of the story?  Don't lie on your seller disclosures.  Someone somewhere might just know the truth and be willing to stand up on behalf of the folks you lied to...see, that neighbor had more to gain from supporting his new neighbors instead of the one who had moved away.  You might think you won't get caught, but it just about always bears out in the end.


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Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time
Leigh what's funny about that is "the seller always know". Disclose, disclose, disclose. When I first got into this business I use to hate telling sellers the results of their home inspection. But I learned quickly that I am not telling them anything they didn't already know. They just chose not to disclose the issue hoping it would slide by. 
Oct 30, 2006 04:08 AM #1
Leigh Brown
Leigh Brown & Associates, RE/MAX Executive - Charlotte, NC
CEO, Dream Maker - Charlotte, NC
And you've probably found the same amazing thing that I have-the sellers are most often just waiting for the agent who has the nerve to be honest with them.  they've already had someone skate around the hard truths.
Oct 30, 2006 04:10 AM #2
Dave Spencer
Spencer & Associates Licensing and Training - Palatine, IL
In the "Good Old Days" it was buyer beware. Required seller disclososure is a welcome plus in the sales process. Liability of the agent is reduced if you have done your due diligence.
Oct 30, 2006 04:48 AM #3
Sabine Pyrchalla
Colorado Springs, CO

Sellers choosing NOT to disclose something? How

I have to agree with Bryant - just tell them of the stories you know: What happens when you don't disclose!


Oct 30, 2006 04:59 AM #4
Kristal Kraft
The Berkshire Group Realtors - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022
Joy!  You can always count on the neighbors to fill in the blanks!
Oct 30, 2006 05:10 AM #5
Pam Hofmann
Third Tennessee Realty & Associates, LLC - Crossville, TN
Your Crossville, Lake Tansi & Fairfield Glade Specialist
When I take a listing I am always amazed when I get the  disclosure back and things that I can "SEE" are not noted. Hello...I can see the dad gum thing is broken, so put it down. Duh
Oct 30, 2006 07:33 AM #6
Ginger Sala
Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC - Wilmington, NC
Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~
Good for that neighbor who spoke the truth!
Oct 30, 2006 03:16 PM #7
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Leigh Brown

CEO, Dream Maker - Charlotte, NC
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