What is a Person Selling their Home Legally Required to Disclose to a Buyer?

Buying a home is the biggest investment many people will ever make.  Finding the right home is a lengthy process requiring a great deal of time and money.  Therefore, it is important to be fully aware of any defects in the property which you are purchasing.

Although New York was historically a “caveat emptor” state (in other words “buyer beware”), legislation has changed over the last decade to provide more protection to consumers.  In New York, sellers are not required to disclose certain facts about a house, such as whether it was the site of a crime or murder, or whether it is believed to have supernatural activity.  However, a seller is required by law to make certain necessary disclosures regarding the condition of the property. 

Buying a home is the biggest investment many people will ever make.  Finding the right home is a lengthy process requiring a great deal of time and money.  Therefore, it is important to be fully aware of any defects in the property which you are purchasing.

Although New York was historically a “caveat emptor” state (in other words “buyer beware”), legislation has changed over the last decade to provide more protection to consumers.  In New York, sellers are not required to disclose certain facts about a house, such as whether it was the site of a crime or murder, or whether it is believed to have supernatural activity.  However, a seller is required by law to make certain necessary disclosures regarding the condition of the property.  These disclosures include:

  • Whether any part of the property is shared with another;
  • How old the structure is;
  • Whether the property was ever the site of a landfill, wetland, floodplain, or is in an agricultural district;
  • Whether fuel storage tanks have ever leaked on the property;
  • Whether asbestos, lead, or radon is present;
  • Whether the structure has been damaged due to water rot, fire, rodents or insects;
  • Details regarding the sewage system;
  • Whether defects exist to the plumbing, security, fire sprinkler, heating, hot water heater, chimney, or carbon monoxide systems, etc.;

Unless the property is being purchased, it is generally exempt from disclosures.  For example, real estate transfers or gifts are not covered under the N.Y. Real Property Disclosure Act.

If a seller fails to provide a list of disclosures, they are required to provide the buyer with a credit of $500 toward the purchase price upon transferring the property.  In the event that a seller knowingly misrepresents the condition of the property on the disclosure, the buyer is entitled to recover damages suffered due to the misrepresentation.

To view a full list of the legally required disclosures, click here.

If you are purchasing a home, it is best to consult with an experienced real estate attorney who can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.  Call the Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams toll free at (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744.

Written by Tanya Hobson-Williams

Appointed to the bench by the Board of Trustees in 2008, and elected in 2009, Tanya Hobson-Williams was the first African-American Female Justice in the Incorporated Village of Hempstead. Tanya Hobson–Williams obtained her B.A. in Government and Politics from St. John’s University and her law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Tanya Hobson-Williams has an active elder law practice assisting senior citizens in obtaining Medicaid for Home Care and Nursing Home Care. She routinely lectures at senior citizen centers, assisted living facilities, law schools and counsels families on a variety of topics of concerns to families caring for the elderly.

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Author: Tanya Hobson-Williams

Appointed to the bench by the Board of Trustees in 2008, and elected in 2009, Tanya Hobson-Williams was the first African-American Female Justice in the Incorporated Village of Hempstead. Tanya Hobson–Williams obtained her B.A. in Government and Politics from St. John's University and her law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Tanya Hobson-Williams has an active elder law practice assisting senior citizens in obtaining Medicaid for Home Care and Nursing Home Care. She routinely lectures at senior citizen centers, assisted living facilities, law schools and counsels families on a variety of topics of concerns to families caring for the elderly.

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