Florida Real Estate: Appeals Court Rules on Seller Disclosure
Posted by Benjamin Dona on Friday, December 9th, 2011 at 5:33pm.
Once 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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