There's Something I Don't Like On the Residential Property Disclosures!
I once had an agent tell me I couldn't ask for anything to be done about basement water leakage because it was listed on the property disclosures. Is this true? Water problems can be pretty expensive!
Concerned in Cincinnati
Dear C in C!
The state of Ohio has a MANDATORY residential property disclosure report that has to be provided by sellers to the buyers. There are exceptions for this requirement, primarily in cases where the seller would not have true knowledge of the condition of the home because they never lived in the home (estate sales, foreclosed homes, etc.).
The purpose of this form is to provide the buyer with a list of things the seller knows about in regards to the home's condition. It prevents surprises to the buyer, and potentially lawsuits AFTER the closing. This form isn't for cosmetic appearance items, but for material condition items that might not be apparent to a buyer, and perhaps not even to their home inspector during the buying process.
The period covered in Ohio is typically for up to the last five years. For instance, has the owner had to make a repair because of some type of damage? E.g. A burst water pipe? Tree falling on the home? Termites? This is the opportunity for the seller to tell you, the prospective buyer what has happened AND what they've done to correct the issue.
Having an issue on the property disclosure form is NOT inherently a bad thing. If the issue has been properly repaired and NOT recurred, then it's just a matter of assessing the repair and your comfort level with the repair.
What the property disclosure is NOT? It's NOT a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card for the seller! Just because the seller tells you the home's attic is occupied by Flying Monkeys looking for Dorothy doesn't mean you can't ask him to call in the exterminator as part of the contract negotiation process. The same principle applies to any other disclosed item!
Basement water intrusion issues noted?
You've got choices to make! You can accept the home "as is" for this particular condition knowing you have a risk of having an indoor pool the next heavy rain. Or you can make that assessment/repair part of the contract negotiation.
The seller and the listing agent may argue that "we told you about that issue and priced the home accordingly!". And that argument MAY be valid.
If the home is priced below every competitor in similar condition, they've decided to use price as the compensation for condition and this COULD be a deal breaker if you as the buyer insist they repair. That said, dependent upon your cash flow and seller's cash flow situations, perhaps you can still get that repair done by offering more for the home and having the repair performed prior to closing.
Like many things in real estate, the answer is "It Depends!". Just another reason it's so vital to have a buyer's agent that is knowledgeable and who WILL protect for YOUR best interests when buying a home in Warren County. Oh, and DON'T skimp on the home inspection! The inspector can save your bacon in situations like these!
We're here to help!
Liz and Bill aka BLiz