What Sellers must disclose about a home? Patent defects vs. Latent defects.

March 1, 2017

, ,

I get asked this question often when listing a home. “Should I disclose about the “fill in the blank”? My simple answer is “disclose, disclose, disclose”. I will then follow up with asking the Seller “What would you want to know about your home before purchasing it?” With most clients this answer and question resonates with them.

A recent “Ask Joe” (Joseph Richer – Registrar for the Real Estate Council of Ontario – RECO) article in the Toronto Star goes a little further to describe latent defects vs. patent defects as follows:

Patent defects are those that are clearly visible. Examples of patent defects include visible cracks in a foundation wall, missing safety railings or visible stains that suggest a roof leak. The seller’s representative doesn’t have to disclose patent defects to you, as these items can be found during a home inspection or are visible to the potential buyer’s eye. It’s up to you to do your own research and ask specific questions.

Latent defects are those that are not apparent and may not be discoverable even by a Home Inspector or other expert. An example of a latent defect, consider a home that has a history of flooding, structural or fire damage where the impact is not visible without an invasive inspection. In this case, the seller is only obligated to disclose the problem if they know about it — and if the defect could be deemed a serious risk to health and safety of those who live in the home.

The Registrar goes on to talk about the use of a official disclosure statement. These have been known to open a Pandora’s box of problems and the possibility of litigation. Why not avoid the chance of this happening. I refer you to my opening statement. If you know something about your home (whether or not it is fixed, repaired or otherwise) let your REALTOR® know and have them disclose it to any potential Buyer’s of your property.

Remember “disclose, disclose, disclose”, then you will be able to sleep at night.