Unexpected Home Repairs After Purchase: Who Pays?
It can be a very frustrating experience to finalize a sale on a new home and to suddenly realize that your newly purchased property needs some more work than anticipated. In a real estate transaction, it is the duty of the seller to notify any potential buyers of the current condition of the house. This includes the age of the home, recent repairs, and features of the home that may need to be repaired in the future. Since all of these changes will mean additional costs for the buyer, failure to reveal the fact that your home may have asbestos to an interested buyer can be considered a form of fraud. In cases where a seller is aware of a home defect but does not inform the seller, the seller can be held legally liable for concealment.
A Seller’s Responsibility
In the State of Hawaii, the law claims that a real estate transaction cannot take place prior to the signing of a disclosure agreement. The disclosure agreement should consist of a written summary of "material facts" about the home for sale. A "material fact" is defined as any condition or defect that may affect the value of the home in the eyes of the buyer. The disclosure agreement should not only include current issues with the home, but also any issues that have been fixed in the past. Under Hawaii law, however, a seller is not required to spend money on third-party professionals to assess the state of the home. Their responsibility is fulfilled simply, as long as the seller demonstrates that their attempt to inform the buyer of all conditions of the home was “in good faith”.
Third Party Liability
In cases where the seller has fulfilled their end of the deal with a proper disclosure agreement, there is still the possibility that a third party may be held liable for your new home expenses. Most real estate transactions do not move forward without the buyer first seeking a home inspection. In the event that your home inspector overlooked a serious home defect in his or her evaluation, they can be held liable for these expenses. In order to prove their liability, however, another professional must be brought in to examine the house in question as well. Not only will they assess the severity and the cost of the damage, but they must ascertain whether it was reasonable or not for your original inspector to have missed the warning signs of the defect.
Between the mountains of paperwork, multiple parties involved, and the financial investment at stake, these matters should be handled with the utmost care. If you find that you are overloaded with new home expenses for repairs that were not in your original estimates, you may have legal avenues for compensation.
Contact DeVries & Associates today to learn more about your legal rights. Call our Honolulu office at 808-465-2500 or our Kailua Kona location at 808-339-3200 today.