by Patricia Feager, 6/23/2017
SELLER'S DISCLOSURE IN TEXAS
IS IT BETTER TO DISCLOSE MORE OR LESS ON A SELLER'S DISCLOSURE?
The purpose of a Seller's Disclosure is for the owners of the property and/or sellers to provide as much information about the property condition as you can and the Seller should disclose "all known material defects." It is better to disclose more than less or not at all. The term "As Is," is not a get out of court for free, nor is it a defense against what is known as the "deceptive trade practice." Failure to disclose material or physical material facts has serious consequences for the Seller, listing agent, and Broker. Any agent who runs the risk of ignoring to disclose known defects is putting themselves and their Broker at risk, as well. Agents must disclose all material facts about condition of property, e.g., structural defects, foundation, water damage, plumbing, roof, slab or any other type of leaks, septic sytems, roof problems, electrical, heating, air conditioning, ventilation and any pertinent facts that a seller, agent or broker knew or should have known.
What Is Deceptive Trade Practice?
Failure to disclose material facts is against the law. When in doubt, a Buyer or Seller should contact an Attorney and seek legal advice. In a court case in 1997 in the City of Fort Worth the judge ruled in favor of the buyers over sellers because information contained in the Seller's Disclosure form were considered, "deceptive and misleading." The Court will decide if any "fraud misrepresentation" occurred. It is the responsibility of the Seller to complete the Seller's Disclosure which contains specificl questions about conditions and previous claims or repairs that are known or disclosed from previous inspection reports.
Consumer Protection Act
Real Estate transactions involve large sums of money. Consumers who feel deceived are more likely to take action to assert their rights and it is the seller's responsibility to disclose, disclose, disclose. Deception has liability and consequences that often result in much more than telling the truth in the first place and getting things repaired properly and disclosing. The "Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) was passed by the Texas legislature in 1973 but it wasn't until 1975 that the act was amended to "include transactions involving real property purchased or leased."
What's the premise of the law? To protect consumers against "false, misleading and deceptive business practice, unconscionable actions and breaches of warranty."
Patricia's Tip for the Day
©Do you really want to be remembered as a case study?