Comb through your Home Inspection Report with care
A buyer in South Carolina who learned from a Home Inspection Report that there were signs of water damage on the property cannot later hold a broker or seller liable for failing to disclose those problems, ruled a South Carolina court in 2008.
In the case (McLaughlin v. Williams, S.C. Court of Appeals, 2008), a Home Inspection Report requested by a prospective buyer indicated high moisture levels and mold was found on the property, even though the seller’s disclosure statement did not indicate any water damage. Despite the report, the buyer closed on the property.
After the purchase, the buyer learned that water damage had created structural problems on the property and he filed a lawsuit against the seller, the listing broker, and his own buyer’s agent for misrepresentation of the property.
Both the trial court and the appeals court dismissed the lawsuit. Misrepresentation presumes that the buyer reasonably relied on statements made by the defendants. However, since the buyer had received the Home Inspection Report, it was determined that he was informed of the potential water damage and did not rely solely on the disclosure statement.
The court also considered whether the buyer’s agent had any liability for allegedly telling the buyer that the inspection report was “not a cause for concern.” The buyer’s agent’s statement didn’t alter the fact that the inspection report had alerted the buyer to a potential problem, negating reliance on the disclosure form.
UPSHOT? – If you are in escrow on a property you should review ALL documents and reports carefully. If there is any doubt you should consult with a competent Real Estate Attorney to better protect your interests and to ensure a good outcome.
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