A realtor is a licensed individual who is bound by the law to do certain things when selling a home. However, a selling realtor depends on the truthfulness of his client, and if the seller is not truthful with the realtor, that information may never be disclosed to you. In addition, a seller has a duty to disclose only if requested to do so by the buyer, although the seller does have an obligation to speak the truth in response to specific questions.
In Mobile and Baldwin Counties, most sellers are asked to sign a Seller’s Disclosure Statement, which may be produced to the potential buyer at or before closing. If you are buying a home, be sure to read this document fully. If the seller does not fully complete the Seller’s Disclosure Statement, you should insist that it be fully completed prior to purchasing the home. Additionally, you should make sure your realtor includes in the purchase offer that any sale is subject to the receipt of a fully completed and acceptable Seller’s Disclosure Statement.
Remember, in most cases, the buyer may never have direct contact with the seller when a realtor is involved. Therefore, unless the seller is required by the purchase agreement to fully complete the seller’s disclosure statement, you may never know about hidden problems with the home, including termite infestations. If you do not ask, or insist that the seller make these disclosures, the doctrine of Caveat Emptor could prohibit you from later complaining about the fact that certain questions were not asked and certain information was not disclosed.
In general, to avoid serious issues in the future, if you are selling a home, you should be upfront about issues. You should never try to hide anything. You should always tell buyers about damage to the home, especially from things like floods or termites. You should disclose any major repairs or insurance claims as well.
When buying a home, you need to insist on full disclosure. You should get a complete termite inspection and do your own research into the home to find potential issues. This information is for education and is not legal advice.