Who’s to Blame in Real Estate Disclosure Law Issues

Florida’s real estate market is an investor’s dream according to media accounts, but it is not the place for an amateur home buyer or first time commercial investor. Homes in foreclosure, homes being sold via short sale, HUD homes and even experienced commercial purchases can become a nightmare for sloppy, hurried buyers who don’t get their own inspections or work with an experienced real estate attorney.

Properties have been sitting empty sometimes for years with no maintenance, improper and illegal repairs, non-licensed rebuilds, add-ons, roofs and buildings. If you buy a property and are just now realizing that the seller lied about a property’s pre-existing condition like a leaky roof, you now bear the responsibility of tracking down who’s to blame and why you ended up with the bad deal.

Florida real estate disclosure laws are firm and clear. But desperate times have produced desperate sellers who lie. Yes, lie to get rid of the large number of ailing properties across the state.

Did a Real Estate Attorney Review the Contract? 

Florida real estate attorney Eric Lanigan’s going to ask you whether full disclosure of the issue was made. Then he’ll ask whether you had a real estate attorney review the final documents.

Hopefully you did consult with a real estate attorney. If you had then you would know that the issue was completely divulged and you didn’t question it, didn’t get your own private home inspector because you were on a budget and didn’t want to add several hundred dollars to the price of a several hundred thousand dollar home.

First, you had better realize that not every false statement concerning a material fact about real property made by a Florida real estate seller to a Florida real estate buyer gives rise to liability on the seller’s part; (2) the law in Florida is always caveat emptor–let the buyer beware–in commercial transactions; which is subject to some very thin exceptions as a seller has no implied duty to disclose material adverse conditions affecting real property, and (3) an “as is” clause in a commercial real estate contract powerfully reinforces a seller’s defenses against liability claims based on undisclosed conditions.

Situations You May Encounter in Quick Sale Homes aka “Flips”

You begin repairing and rehabilitating a commercial apartment building you bought in a foreclosure. You discover faulty electrical and poor wiring throughout the property that was completed due to use of non-licensed electricians within the last three weeks according to the receipts from Home Depot found in the manager’s office. Who do you contact?

The home you bought via short sale that you purchased and advertised and filled with renters after three weeks and several coats of paint, some new landscaping and doors and drawer hardware has a leaking roof and several windows. Is the seller liable or the realtor or the inspection company who passed the home? Are all three responsible or no one?

Hire an Experienced Attorney

You’ve got to contact an experienced Florida real estate lawyer to tackle contract and property issues and quickly. Few situations, particularly with rental properties, allow for much time to go by before losses outweigh the gains in purchasing the home in a quick sale situation.

The goal is to find out and resolve the issue, determining whether contract review and negotiation will resolve the problems between buyer and seller, realtor and inspectors or whether the case will need litigation.

This is time sensitive as well so that any Florida laws covering a buyer don’t lapse.

If you’re buying homes, commercial property, investing for the first time in Florida’s chaotic real estate market, move into it cautiously and with an experienced real estate attorney at your side.