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Report all home flaws to reduce liability in as-is sale

House inspection can help lower the risk of a lawsuit but never eliminate it.

June 27, 2010|By Barry Stone

Question: I recently inherited an old home that is in general disrepair. I want to sell it but am concerned about disclosure liability. I'd like to do an as-is sale and simply disclose all the defects I am aware of. If a buyer signs an as-is contract, can I still be sued or held liable for defects that I fail to disclose? If so, how can I protect myself?

Answer: Disclosure liability can always be reduced, but it can never be eliminated completely. This is because people can file lawsuits for any or no reason at all. The best you can do is to eliminate as many reasons as possible.

If you provide full and honest disclosure, you can do an as-is sale, and your chances of ever being sued will be small. The best way to do this is to hire a home inspector to provide a detailed disclosure of the property's condition. In addition, you should advise the buyers, in writing, to hire their own inspector to make sure that no important defects were missed.

If you do those things, you should be reasonably safe from legal actions if defects are discovered later. In the event that a legal claim should arise, you would have evidence to show that your intentions were unimpeachable.

Barry Stone, Access Media Group

To submit a question, go to http://www.housedetective.com.

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