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What do Florida sellers need to disclose about real property?

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2024 | Real Estate

Purchasing a residential property is a major commitment. Homeowners may spend three decades paying off their mortgages, and they may live at that property for years. Buyers therefore need to make informed decisions about what properties they acquire and how much they offer to pay for those homes.

The condition of the property has a major impact on what the property is worth and whether it is an appropriate housing solution for a specific buyer. The law in Florida requires that sellers disclose property defects in writing to ensure that buyers can make informed decisions about real property purchases.

Sellers must identify obvious and latent defects

Some issues with the property are very obvious. Buyers can easily spot outdated windows or an undersized air conditioning unit that fails to keep a property properly cool. Other issues are latent. Issues with the foundation or the wiring system may not be apparent without in-depth inspections. Even with a professional inspection, latent defects may go unnoticed for months after closing.

Sellers have a legal obligation to disclose any issues that they know about with the property. The decision to list a home in as-is condition does not eliminate this obligation. If buyers uncover defects that the sellers must have known about, they may be in a position to take legal action against the previous owner or their real estate agent.

That being said, there are certain issues with the property that do not require disclosure under Florida law. In some states, sellers must notify buyers if there has been a death at the property within a certain amount of time before listing it for sale. Other states don’t require the disclosure of a death but do require written notice of homicides and suicides.

In Florida, sellers do not need to disclose the fact that others died at the property, even if they died of suicide or murder. Allegations about a property being haunted or the seller having certain medical conditions are also irrelevant under Florida law.

Buyers who understand what sellers must disclose are potentially able to better evaluate properties to determine which home actually fits their needs. Sellers who understand disclosure rules can limit the liability they may incur when selling real property. Understanding Florida’s real estate laws can be highly beneficial for those about to conduct a residential real estate transaction. Both buyers and sellers may need to learn more about state law before negotiating a purchase agreement on a property given all that is at stake.