If you have ever purchased an appliance or even a vehicle that never seems to work right, you know how frustrating it can be. You thought you had made a smart purchase, and the item failed to meet your expectations. You might even take the trouble to return it and ask for a refund. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy when the lemon you have purchased is your new home.
Texas homeowners have an obligation to disclose certain details about the house they are selling. State and federal laws specify what you have the right to know about a home, and if the sellers are aware of certain material defects, they must make a truthful disclosure. This way, you can make an informed decision about whether to negotiate for a better price or walk away from the deal. However, if you discover faults in your new home that the seller should have disclosed, what can you do?
Who is responsible?
Ideally, you walked through the house several times before making an offer. You probably hired an independent inspector to evaluate the home, its systems and its structure. If anything comes up in the inspection, your contract contingencies should allow you to refuse to proceed with closing until you resolve the matter with the seller. However, if you are already the new owner of the house and you discover a defect that the seller did not disclose or perhaps even tried to hide, the burden of the repairs might not be on you.
It is possible that you are covered by a manufacturer’s or seller’s warranty. More importantly, you probably want to know who dropped the ball. It might be any of the following:
- A seller who deliberately fails to disclose costly problems with the home
- A listing agent who deceptively withheld information to make the sale
- A home inspector who missed something important that he or she was required to include in the inspection report
It won’t be easy to bring a successful legal claim against these parties, and the burden of proving they intentionally withheld or concealed defects will be challenging. It will be important to compile comprehensive documentation of the defect, your discovery of it and the amount of damages you suffered as a result. This includes taking pictures, seeking professional opinions and saving your receipts. With a good strategy, you might be able to put the bad news behind you quickly and settle into your new home.