What are your rights when a seller fails to disclose information?

When you purchase a new home, it is both exciting and stressful. There are many components involved in your real estate transaction to handle carefully and correctly.

If you find out a seller failed to disclose defects with the house you bought, it is vital to understand your options and rights under the law.

Seller disclosure requirements

California has strict conditions regarding a seller’s disclosure. Sellers must fill out the required forms with accurate information. A Transfer Disclosure Statement asks about the property’s features, including the conditions of the electrical wiring, roof, water heater, appliances and smoke detectors. It also covers other details, such as any additions to the house or rooms, structural damage, deaths on the property or neighborhood noise concerns.

Material facts

The law requires that buyers know the material facts, which is any information that may affect their decision to purchase a property. If a seller knows about defects but fails to disclose them to you, you can take legal action.

Types of damages

If you can prove the person who sold you the house misrepresented flaws with the property, a court may award you compensatory damages. This monetary compensation helps you pay for repairs or losses due to diminished property value. When a seller acts maliciously to conceal known issues, a judge can choose to award you punitive damages intended as a punishment to deter future defrauding. In some cases, you might be able to rescind the contract, so the seller must take the home back and return your money.

California requires sellers to inform their buyers of anything wrong with a property for sale. As a buyer, understanding your legal protections can help you recover losses after a fraudulent real estate transaction.