Caveat emptor places the burden of proof on the homebuyer

Buying an Alabama home is an expensive proposition, and you likely take steps that ensure everything from the paperwork to the condition of the home is in order. However, if you discover the house has a termite infestation after your purchase goes through, you may wonder if you have recourse. We often represent homeowners with a termite dispute.

According to the Alabama Real Estate Institute, caveat emptor is a warning to buyers that they cannot recover damages, such as property defects, from the seller after the date of the closing. However, there are exceptions to the rule.

Seller responsibilities to buyers

The seller must legally act in the best interest of the seller. However, if the seller knows that an issue could pose a safety or health risk to you the buyer, they must disclose that information. The seller is also responsible for honestly answering any questions you have about potential issues. If the seller is unaware of a material problem, such as termites, he or she cannot disclose that information and has no obligation to you relating to that issue.

Seller liabilities for damages

If you find a defect that the seller failed to disclose, you may have grounds for a fraud, negligence, misrepresentation or suppression of material facts claim. The seller has no liability for failing to disclose under caveat emptor. The burden of proof is on the buyer. You must prove that the seller knew about the defect, in this case, termite damage and that it could also cause safety and health issues.

Compensation recovered from a termite lawsuit can help the homebuyer cover the cost of repairs, property damage, devaluation of the property and mental anguish.

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