The whole truth brings peace of mind

Property sellers who have to sell fast in a more difficult market may be tempted to keep quiet about known faults in the property in the hope of attracting more buyers and selling faster.

But the best advice to such sellers is: Don’t!

“Sooner or later buyers who have been misled through non-disclosure will become aware of the defects, and the chances are high that they may start litigation to recover money they have spent on fixing the problem,” says Martin Schultheiss, CEO of the giant Homenet group.

And that could turn what was supposed to be a quick and easy transaction into a long and expensive nightmare. “Homeowners who are forced through circumstances to sell fast will be far better off if they disclose any defects, take the financial knock upfront and move on with the rest of their lives,” he says.

Indeed, full disclosure may even act as an incentive to buyers who prefer to know exactly what repairs will have to be made and will appreciate sellers’ honesty.

Schultheiss points out that it is, of course, an estate agent’s duty to inform potential buyers about any defects that are known to them - and that they depend largely on sellers’ to disclose the relevant facts.

“For this reason, many agents require disclosure documents to be signed by the seller. And apart from making a clean breast of the condition of the property, such documents may also serve as protection against litigation if buyers later claim they were not fully informed of the property’s condition.”

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