When you purchase real estate, you expect the seller to be upfront with you about its condition. After all, you want to be sure about the property’s condition before making such a major purchase. However, when a seller doesn’t properly disclose some problem or defect with the release estate before you buy it, you may have a legal cause of action against the seller. If you are in this situation, an Arizona real estate lawyer may be able to help.
Residential Real Estate Disclosures
Arizona law requires sellers of residential real estate to disclose certain information about the property’s condition before they sell it. Most sellers using REALTORS® complete a standardized Residential Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS) to provide the buyer with all the required information about the real estate. However, Arizona law does not specifically mandate that sellers use the form; sellers only need to disclose the required information to the buyer in any format they choose.
The required information about the condition of the real estate that the seller must disclose includes:
- The age of the property, the existence of any liens, assessments, or easements on the property, and any association fees that apply to the property;
- Basic structural information about the home, such as the condition of the roof, plumbing issues, problems with heating and cooling systems, wood infestations, electrical systems issues, and problems with swimming pools, hot tubs, or other water features;
- Major repairs that have been or need to be performed;
- Utility services available at the home;
- Any known environmental conditions, such as problems with drainage, noise from nearby structures, trains, or roads, or the presence of any landfills or toxic waste dumps;
- The condition of the sewage/wastewater treatment system; and
- Any other relevant information about the property.
Furthermore, if the home was built before 1978, the seller must disclose the known presence of any lead-based paint and any lead paint inspections or reports performed on the home. If working with a realtor, the seller also must disclose the last five years of insurance claims on the home, or the years the seller owned the property if less than five years.
Failure to Disclose Real Estate Conditions
Beyond these specific requirements, sellers of real estate generally must disclose any materially adverse conditions about the home that might affect the buyer’s decision to purchase it or the property’s value. Failure to disclose these conditions could result in the buyer having a legal cause of action against the seller. However, Arizona law exempts the seller from disclosing homicides, suicides, or natural deaths that occurred in the home, occupancy by people with HIV or other diseases, and the residences of nearby sex offenders.
All Arizona real estate transactions occur via a written contract, which sets forth the respective obligations of all parties to the transaction. Therefore, if the seller fails to disclose a material fact about the property’s condition, the buyer could sue the seller for a material breach of contract.
If the parties have used the Residential Real Estate Purchase Contract in their transaction, the buyer must use mediation to resolve the contract dispute before filing a lawsuit. Mediation can be quite advantageous, primarily because it is typically quicker, less expensive, and more likely to reach an amicable result because it enables parties to reach their own agreement. However, if mediation fails, the buyer can still file a lawsuit against the seller based on their failure to disclose a property condition that was material to the contract.
Contact Us Today for Help with Your Real Estate Law Issues
The real estate attorneys of Provident Law have over 250 years of combined legal experience. We aim to build a relationship with you and our clients as we work with you through your most complex legal problems. Call us today at (480) 388-3343, or reach out to us online and see what we can do for you.