The House Detective: Age of home was not fully disclosed

Problems could be avoided if homebuyers check the permit history of a property before closing escrow.
Oklahoman Published: April 28, 2012
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DEAR BARRY: When we bought our home, the seller and agent said that it was only 2 years old. They did not disclose that it was built on the slab of an old house that had burned to the ground. The septic system, which is also old, has had problems requiring repair, and we're worried about old pipes that may be installed under the slab. Is anyone responsible for this lack of disclosure?

Vickie

DEAR VICKIE: Problems of this kind could be avoided if homebuyers would consult the local building department for a permit history, before closing escrow. Unfortunately, most buyers are not given this advice.

If the seller of your home knew the history of the house, that it was built on an old foundation and that there was an old septic system, that information should have been disclosed. The same obligation applies to the agent, if the history of the property was known.

It is unlikely that the house fire had an adverse effect on the slab or foundation. If the local building department was doing its job, the old foundation should have been inspected and approved when the house was rebuilt. The age of the underground sewer pipes could be an issue if the original home was very old. These can be evaluated by a plumber who does video inspections of waste piping.

The septic system should have been pumped and inspected by a qualified septic contractor before you bought the property. If this was not done, you were not properly advised by your agent. If the age of the system was the reason for recent repairs, the sellers should take responsibility for costs because they did not disclose the true history of the property.

You should write a letter to the sellers and the agent, making your request for payment, as well as an explanation for the lack of disclosure.

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