Does the seller and/or agent have to disclose problems? Yes! As a buyer, you can ask the agent to provide a list of all know defects and problems with the property that they know of. You can request this list during an open house.
Duty of disclosure is a legal requirement that the seller and/or agent has to inform the buyer of any defects.
If you buy the property and then learn of a major problem that most likely was known but not disclosed, legal litigation may follow against the seller and/or agent.
Examples are anything that would potentially decrease the value of the property, like foundation problems, termite infestation, hazardous materials (like asbestos ceilings), and sewer problems.
What is interesting is the seller must know.
So even though the ceiling of the room is obviously asbestos, unless the ceiling is tested, the seller can say they don't know for sure and not disclose this.
As a condition of our offer on a property, we had the ceiling tested to see if it was asbestos. And if it was, we had the seller pay to have the asbestos removed and a new flat ceiling installed.
It was tested, was asbestos, and the seller paid about $10K to have it removed.
Also visited a home with a view, asked for disclosure, and there were "none". Went home, looked at the property on Google Maps, and a dated satellite photo showed the entire hillside was covered with plastic tarp to prevent the land from giving way. But during the open house, there was no indication of unstable land the property was built on.
If you're the seller and know your property has costly repair problems, you do have the option of selling the property "AS IS", which when translated means "Buyer Beware!"
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