Default Featured image

Snakes In the House! Why Realtors® and Sellers Should Remember Their Duty to Disclose

Non-Disclosures Disputes by Peter N. Brewer, Esq.

“I do not want them in the house, I do not want them on my blouse, I would not like them in my car, I would not like them near or far, I do not want them here, nor there, I do not want them anywhere!”  With great apologies to Dr. Seuss.

Yesterday, a Maryland couple filed a $2 million lawsuit against their REALTOR® after they found a severe snake infestation in their recently-purchased home.

Sellers in California are required to disclose all facts that would be material to the transaction.  A snake infestation would be material to most, if not all buyers.  In this case, if there was an inspection report disclosing the defect that the seller or the listing agent had possession of, then the buyers may have a solid claim for punitive damages because of active concealment.

California law requires you to fill out and provide the Transfer Disclosure Statement. In addition to the TDS, many buyers would like the Seller’s Supplemental Checklist, however it is optional. I recommend that sellers use the supplemental disclosure to help them remember what repairs and property conditions that they should disclose to the buyer. After so many years of owning a home, it’s easy to forget all the little repairs you have made. Remember, you must disclose anything that would be material to the buyers.

For example, if the window leaked this past winter and you repaired it in the summer but it hasn’t rained yet, you don’t know if it still leaks. Sellers often forget to disclose things they “fixed” which can lead to problems later.

That’s what appeared to have happened to these unfortunate buyers in Maryland, that they purchased their home when snakes were dormant (presumably during cold weather) but “as the weather grew warmer, the family discovered the snake infestations”.

Here in the Bay Area, we haven’t had much rain since there has been a drought and so a property that looks dry as a bone in the summer months could have a serious drainage or flooding issue when the rains resume.  If the sellers are aware of that possibility, they must disclose it.

We have written about the seller’s duty to disclose numerous times:

“Past Litigation is a Material Fact that Sellers are Obligated to Disclose”

Do I have to Tell Them Everything? By Simon Offord, Esq.

Latest Posts

Real Estate Contracts & Transactions

Out of Contract? Not So Fast…

by Adam Pedersen, Esq. on August 28, 2018

In the highly-competitive real estate market in California, agents are being more aggressive in enforcing contract terms. So before you tell your client that you are “out of contract”, you might want to be sure the contract is actually cancelled! [Read More]

Landlord & Tenant Law

What a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit Really Means

by Brewer Firm Team on September 20, 2018

It is after Labor Day weekend and that means school supplies, summer vacation credit card bills, and preparing for the holidays. With all these added costs, the tenant may not have enough money to pay rent and the landlord serves [Read More]

Real Estate Contracts & Transactions

Can A Buyer Back Out of a Non-Contingent Offer?

by Simon Offord, Esq. on October 2, 2018

In my last article, we discussed liquidated damages in the context of a residential real estate purchase contract.  This article will examine whether a buyer may have a right to back out of a contract and receive their full deposit [Read More]