Can you sue the seller for property damage after closing?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2023 | Real Estate Disputes

Purchasing a new home is an exciting and significant investment. However, it can also be daunting and overwhelming that you may miss some important aspects of the property’s condition. You might only discover hidden defects after you have closed the deal.

In some cases, these issues may result from the seller’s failure to disclose known defects or maintain the property in good condition. But other reasons may be involved, such as differences in expectations and changing market conditions, which may be out of the seller’s control.

The duty of sellers to disclose defects

In most states, sellers have a legal duty to disclose any known defects or issues with the property to potential buyers. This duty is typically outlined in the real estate contract. It may include information about the property’s condition, any known defects or repairs and any other relevant information that may affect the property’s value or desirability.

If a buyer discovers hidden defects or unforeseen issues after closing, they may be able to sue the seller for damages. The specific legal options available will depend on the laws of the state where the property is located and the real estate contract terms.

Some potential legal options for buyers may include:

  • Breach of contract: If the seller fails to disclose known defects or issues with the property, the buyer may be able to claim that the seller breached the terms of the real estate contract.
  • Fraud: If the seller intentionally concealed or misrepresented the property’s condition, the buyer may be able to claim fraud.
  • Negligence: If the seller fails to maintain the property in good condition or fails to disclose known defects, the buyer may be able to claim negligence.

It is important to note that suing a seller after closing can be a complex and time-consuming process, and it may not always be successful. Before pursuing legal action, it is essential to consult with an attorney to discuss your options and determine the best course of action.

How to protect yourself as a buyer

While suing a seller after closing is possible, remember that as a buyer, you also have a responsibility to conduct a thorough inspection before closing. Do not be afraid to ask the seller questions about its maintenance history. Most importantly, always review the real estate contract to ensure that it includes a comprehensive list of the property’s condition and any known defects or issues.

By taking a proactive and informed approach, you can avoid costly oversights or taking legal actions. You can make a smart, informed decision before purchasing real estate.