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Addressing latent property defects after buying a new home

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2023 | Property Law

Purchasing real property in Texas is an involved process. First, aspiring buyers need to search for property that meets their needs and fits within their budget. They then need to make an offer on the property. Successful offers lead to purchase agreements and a scheduled closing.

However, plenty can go wrong between an offer and a closing. Even when the buyer takes possession of the property, there is still a possibility of complications in the future. For example, a buyer may be at the home for several months before they discover concerning signs of a latent property defect.

Latent defects can lead to litigation

Texas has very thorough disclosure requirements for anyone selling real property. Even if they try to list the property in as-is condition, home sellers still need to disclose any known property issues, particularly latent defects that can be difficult to spot. Sometimes, latent defects undisclosed in the seller’s paperwork come to light during the inspection process.

A professional inspector may be able to spot foundation issues or similar, hidden problems with the property that could be very expensive to remediate. Unfortunately, even inspectors can fail to spot certain property issues. Buyers who discover a major issue with the property after taking possession of it may feel frustrated and may wonder if they have experienced actionable fraud.

In some cases, the new homeowner may be in a position to take legal action against the former owner of the property. The sellers could be financially responsible either for the difference in the property’s value based on those defects or for the cost to address those defects. Other times, it may be possible to hold an inspector accountable for their failure to spot those defects.

There could also be reason to bring a claim against the seller’s agent if they knew about and helped obfuscate the truth of the property’s condition. Real estate professionals, including inspectors, usually have special insurance that can help pay for issues related to their professional failings.

Buyers will generally need proof of the defect and estimates exploring how much it will cost to correct the issue or establishing how much of a financial impact those property issues will have on the resale value of the home. Buyers should be able to trust that a property is in the condition that a seller claims when making an offer on real property, and they should not have to absorb the expenses caused by the misrepresentation of a property’s condition.

Holding the right party accountable can reduce the financial impact of a latent defect on a new homeowner. Seeking legal guidance accordingly can be very helpful.