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Protecting against violations of disclosure laws

A previous post here discussed Pennsylvania's Seller Disclosure Law and how that law changes the traditional doctrine of "caveat emptor," or let the buyer beware. A seller not only has to be truthful in what he or she does say about a home or other residential property, the seller also has a duty to report certain material defects.

Even for a Philadelphia resident who is basically an honest person and wants to do things the right way, knowing exactly how to fill out this form can involve complicated questions and a difficult balancing act. After all, most sellers do not want to call attention to things about a house that are not really problems, but just items that may need attention due to age or some other factor. Indeed, many buyers would not expect a seller to do so, and noting such items could raise a red flag unnecessarily and prevent a mutually beneficial sale.

On the other hand, no buyer wants to be on the receiving end of a bad deal in which a seller knew about, but did not disclose, an important defect in the home. At best, this will leave a bad taste in the buyer's mouth and, at worst, it will result in litigation. It is also important to know that seller forgetting to disclose needs not be any more than a mistake, yet not disclosing a defect will almost always leave a buyer with the impression that there was underhanded dealing.

Filling out the disclosure form correctly is an important part of any real estate transaction, and may not always be an easy task with an obvious answer. This is why our law office offers assistance with completing this form in an effort to protect our clients' hard-earned sales and avoid litigation.

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