J. Patrick Sutton Cases & Issues Blog

Sigh. Disclosures in Residential Real Estate Transactions

I've probably blogged about it before, but since the issue comes around again and again, it's worth repeating: When in doubt, disclose!

Because I handle so many different and varied kinds of real estate disputes, it's common for a property that is the subject of contention to be put up for sale in the midst of — or immediately following — litigation. How often have I seen persons aggrieved by a lack of information when they purchased get tempted to hold back on disclosing the litigation warts when they themselves are ready to sell?

Real property (land, houses) has a determinable market value: potential buyers bid and thereby set the market price. But that process breaks down when buyers can't get reliable or correct information. Sellers want to maximize the sale price, and that can lead them to be shy about over-disclosing.

The answer? Easy! The golden rule! ALL SELLERS OF REAL ESTATE: DISCLOSE WHAT YOU WOULD WISH TO HAVE DISCLOSED TO YOU. This will yield the true market price, avoid litigation, and make you, the seller, feel super special about what a good, honest person you are.
J. Patrick Sutton Cases & Issues Blog