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Florida Real Estate: Appeals Court Rules on Seller Disclosure

Posted by Benjamin Dona on Friday, December 9th, 2011 at 5:33pm.

Florida Real Estate: Seller Disclosure RulingOnce again, a Florida Appeals Court has upheld the current standard for seller disclosure requirements that apply to Florida real estate transactions. Citing the landmark disclosure case, Johnson vs. Davis, the appeal court found that the law requires a seller to "actually"  know about a problem in order to be held liable for a material defect.

While sellers are obligated to disclose known defects that materially affect the value of the property and that are hidden or unknown to the buyer, the case at hand focused on whether a seller can be held liable for not disclosing a material defect they "should have known"  about. The original trial court in the case used the "should have known"  standard and awarded damages to the buyer even though no evidence presented suggested that the sellers actually knew about the defects prior to the sale.

The court of appeal reversed that decision and reaffirmed the existing disclosure standard: a buyer must prove that a seller had actual knowledge of an undisclosed material defect to successfully pursue the matter in court.

The bottom line in all this is "always disclose what you know"  when selling and "always get a professional home inspection"  as part of the buying process.

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About the Author

Gulf Coast Associates, RealtorsBenjamin Dona is the Broker and Owner of Gulf Coast Associates, Realtors in Bonita Springs, Florida. He holds two advanced degrees, an MBA and an MA, and has an extensive background in both business and marketing. In 1998, he founded Gulf Coast Associates, and formed a group of like-minded Realtor® associates dedicated to offering professional Southwest Florida real estate services by concentrating on information, education and the use of leading edge technologies. He also is a recognized expert on the "Net," a much-quoted and read blog author, and a contributor to both national and international news outlets. Benjamin is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Florida Association of Realtors, and numerous local real estate boards throughout Southwest Florida.

Contact Benjamin Dona at 239-948-3955


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4 Responses to "Florida Real Estate: Appeals Court Rules on Seller Disclosure"

Joe wrote:
Paying up front for a home inspection is much more preferable to an expensive drawn-out fight in court.

Posted on Saturday, December 10th, 2011 at 9:13am.

Debbie Gartner wrote:
Yes, that makes sense. I mean, seriously, how could someone be responsible for something they didn't know...and how do you draw the line on what they should have known. I think this is really about intent to deceive and if they didn't know, they shouldn't be responsible.

Posted on Saturday, December 10th, 2011 at 11:07am.

C Brodeur wrote:
This seems like common sense. People should only be responsible for what they actually know. How can anyone decide what you should have known?

Posted on Sunday, December 11th, 2011 at 2:35pm.

Danny in Brandon wrote:
I agree, this is just common sense. Otherwise there would be lawsuits galore with the "well they should have known" defense.

Posted on Friday, December 30th, 2011 at 1:55am.



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