Recently, I received a call from a buyer's agent regarding a home that I had listed and sold to her buyers several months ago. She was questionning whether the seller knew that there was old termite damage in the ceiling of the main floor of the house. When I asked how it was found after the closing and not by the termite inspector, she indicated that the buyers had removed the crown moulding as well as the wallpaper and it was found then. That explains why the inspector didn't find it, it was HIDDEN. The agent was accusing the sellers, who had lived there for over 45 years, knowingly covered up damage with crown moulding over 20 years ago. Well, since it was a POA that completed the disclosures due to an owner with dementia, there was limited information provided in disclosure other than what the seller had maintained for records and repairs. So it begs the question, did the seller know and that is why they added the moulding? Or did they add the moulding because it was all the rage back then? We will never know!
Another situation happened to a friend of mine. Her brother had purchased a home about a year ago from a seller that had lived in the home for just over 11 years. In that time, she disclosed that she had needed to file two separate insurance claims for a failed sump pump. The second time her basement flooded, she had added a battery backup system as well. When the basement flooded over the weekend, the water was worse in one corner of the basement and the sump pump WAS working, it had not failed. Upon pulling back the carpet in that corner, a secondary sump pit was revealed that the current owners did not know existed. Imagine finding this under the carpet!!!!
There was no pump in it and the water was coming from that hole faster than they could get it out! The questions is, the previous owner did not disclose the existence of this secondary pit. It was hidden under the carpet and not mentioned in the disclosure. Although you want to give the seller the benefit of the doubt, it seems unlikely that she didn't know it was there when she had filed two claims and the carpet had been replaced more than once. Was it an oversight? Who is to blame?
The seller disclosure is completed by the owner and it is intended to disclose things that the seller knows for the time period that they have owned the house. I have seen on disclosures from time to time that the current seller discloses something that was disclosed to them about the home from the owner before them. But that doesn't happen very often. The disclosure completed by the owner holds the broker and the agent harmless from the information and misinformation that may be contained in it. And it is difficult to prove that the seller knowingly deceived the buyer. Still, the question remains....how much can you trust the seller disclosure? There are some things that inspectors can't see. Welcome to the worst part of home ownership!
photo shared from a friend that found a hidden sump pit under their carpet.