By Stephen J. Olsen, Esq. Over the last few years, Gawthrop Greenwood’s tax, trusts and…
If you’ve ever visited a residential property you considered purchasing, chances are you’ve been handed the Seller’s Disclosure Form, which tends to be a lengthy packet of check marks, darkened boxes and tiny print. Very often, most disclosure statements by the Seller about known defects are answered with a NO. Only occasionally is a response supplemented by additional information. Too often, known defects are not disclosed on this form.
As in many states, Pennsylvania’s Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law (RESDL) creates legal obligations for Sellers, which may not be intuitive. Under RESDL (found in 68 Pa.C.S.A. § 7308), although a seller is not obligated to make any specific investigation or inquiry in completing the Statement, that same subsection prevents sellers from making “any representations that the seller or the agent for the seller knows or has reason to know are false, deceptive or misleading” and requires Sellers to disclose all “known material defects.”
But this is where it gets interesting: The prior subsection, § 7307, requires that if information disclosed is later rendered inaccurate (prior to settlement) by newly received information, then the Seller must notify the buyer of the inaccuracy. Failure to do so, could result in the Seller being liable to the Buyer for fraudulent misrepresentation.
John Rafferty is a former Naval Officer, Fulbright Scholar and partner at Gawthrop Greenwood, PC , where he supports clients as a Litigation attorney. He can be reached at email@example.com or 610-696-8225.