Under Florida Law when selling your Sarasota home you are obligated to disclose to a buyer all known facts that materially affect the value of your property. The Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement is designed to assist the sellers in complying with the disclosure requirements. This statement should be completed when listing your home and then must be updated with any changes to the property during the listing period.
Florida Property Disclosures and the AS IS sales contract.
A seller of residential property cannot avoid the duty to disclose latent defects through the broad “AS/IS” clause in a real estate purchase and sale contract.
It use to be very straight forward in Florida when selling your home. We were a “buyer beware” state, meaning sellers were mostly free of worries about defects a purchaser might find after taking possession. Not anymore.
Now, before entering into a contract to sell real property in Florida, the seller is required to make certain disclosures to the prospective buyer. It is a seller’s duty to disclose situations where the seller of a home knows of facts materially affecting the value of the property which are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer.
Failure to perform under this definition now opens up the possibility that buyers can return to the sellers for compensation. Additionally, a recent Florida ruling found that a forgetful or unsophisticated seller is just as liable as a knowing dissembler who doesn’t disclose a properties faults.
But what if a seller is truly unaware of a defect that is later discovered by the buyer ? Is the seller still liable for nondisclosure ? A recent case in Sarasota County’s Second District Court of Appeals says no. A seller must have “actual knowledge of a defective condition to be held liable for its nondisclosure”. However if a buyer wants to take it to court a seller could be liable if it was found they “should have known ” of the defect.
So the moral of the story is that home sellers should be cautious. If you know of a problem , or if you have a suspicion that there is one, you should make the disclosure.