Buyer Beware? Know your Disclosure Rights

As any person who has purchased a home understands, the home buying process involves a good deal of paperwork. Included in that pile is the seller’s property disclosure statement. The property disclosure statement is instrumental in the purchase of a home and is expected to be a full record of pertinent information known to the sellers at the time of sale. There are certain things that must always be disclosed, such as the existence of asbestos or lead-based paint in the home. However, other disclosure requirements can vary not only by state but even by county. The following is information for Minnesota home buyers regarding what should be disclosed and what the recourse is should you find yourself in a situation where you feel you were misguided by the property disclosure statement.

Minnesota Statute § 513.55, subd. 1, outlines what a seller should do on a property disclosure statement: a seller is required to make a written disclosure of all material facts of which the seller is aware that could adversely and significantly affect (1) an ordinary buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property; or (2) any intended use of the property of which the seller is aware. The disclosure must be made in good faith and based upon the best of the seller’s knowledge at the time of the disclosure. The statute guiding disclosures is broad but the general idea is that the seller must give written disclosures detailing any facts within their knowledge that negatively affects the property.

A sample disclosure form in Minnesota includes many specific questions sellers must answer in good faith but it is not comprehensive. Buyers certainly can do their own due diligence by simply searching the property and surrounding area online to find out as much information as possible before making a purchase. However, even the most diligent home buyers willing to comb through and follow up on each disclosure may face the unfortunate reality of having been lied to in order to induce a purchase of the home. If such a situation arises, there are a few things to consider moving forward.

First, review the disclosure statement. If what you are experiencing was arguably disclosed on the form, you may have been placed on adequate notice of the defect, even if it lacked specificity. Second, be sure to document what you are experiencing as it happens. Take pictures and make notes regarding what is happening in your new home. Finally, if you review the disclosure statement and find that what you are experiencing was not disclosed, it is recommended that you contact an attorney. Depending upon the disclosures (or non-disclosures), you may be able to seek a remedy in court.

Homebuyers pour a lot of time, energy, and money into purchasing a new home. Accordingly, Minnesota law tries to ensure you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If you feel that you were lied to on a disclosure statement, contact an attorney today to better understand your rights and chances for justice.