You are thinking that you want to sell your home and finally start looking for that dream home. But you are worried that your home has some history and are wondering if you need to disclose it to potential buyers.
In Ontario, sellers and their realtors have a duty to disclose any defects in a property that may affect a buyer’s use or enjoyment of the property. There are certain defects that legally the seller and their realtor need to disclose to protect themselves from possible future legal litigation.
There are two kinds of defects:
1. Physical Defects
Physical defects are obvious and visible and can be seen by anyone viewing the home. As a result, the seller can’t conceal these defects. Some examples might include visible stains, cracks, or missing items such as railings. With these types of defects legally the homeowner or realtor are not required to disclose these types of defects.
2. Latent Defects
Latent Defects are defects that are hidden and can’t be seen and apparent to buyers and realtors viewing the home and in some cases are also not detected by professional home inspectors. The law says that if the sellers know about the latent defect that makes the home dangerous or uninhabitable by the buyer then the seller must disclose the defect. The seller cannot intentionally conceal the defect.
What kinds of things should a seller disclose:
- - A leak in the basement that happens every spring
- - If when you bought the home your home inspector told you there were termites in the basement and - you did not treat it
- - The knob and tube wiring in the house
- - That there was a murder in the home, before you moved in or while you lived in the home
- - If someone died in the home
- - That addition to the home was done without permits
- - If a basement apartment is not legal
- - ......
Does a Realtor Have a Responsibility to Buyers to Share Everything They Know About a House?
If a realtor has knowledge of any event defect or stigma associated with the house, such as s death, or illegal substances grown in the home, they must disclose this information. All realtors are governed by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) and are regulated by OREA. As a result, they have an ethical obligation to disclose stigmas such as murders, suicide, drug lab, brothel, death by natural causes, or even paranormal activity. We are obligated to inform our buyers before you put an offer on a house if we are aware of the home’s history.
The general rule is if you are not sure if you should disclose something, chances are that you should disclose it. Your Realtor can guide you and determine what needs to be disclosed. I am of the philosophy that more disclosure is better than less.