Buying a home in Florida for the first time is often a thrilling experience that can quickly become devastating if the seller did not make the appropriate disclosures.
Purchasers typically have legal recourse if the real estate contract omitted specific facts about the property. However, knowing the disclosure requirements ahead of time can save time, money and headache by making sure that the list is complete before closing.
Florida disclosure statutes
According to Florida Realtors, sellers must disclose any latent fact or defect that affects the value of a property to the potential buyer, including homes sold “as is.” The disclosure does not have to be in writing, but it is generally a good idea to have defects documented in case of a future dispute.
Items that typically require disclosure include behind-the-wall issues with electric and plumbing systems, mold, dry rot or hidden termite damage. A few other disclosure requirements specific to Florida are:
- Insulation R-value, type and thickness
- Presence of radon gas
- Active enforcement of local building codes
- Presence of endangered species on the property or in the area
Florida sellers are under no legal obligation to disclose deaths, including suicides and homicides, in real estate transactions.
FindLaw states that previous owners must only disclose the problems they know about, and sellers usually do not have to hire inspectors before they can list the sale. However, a thorough home inspection might be a positive attribute that makes the state of the property more transparent.
Potential first-time homebuyers might consider hiring their own professional to do a complete independent inspection in the absence of a seller’s report. Buyers should keep in mind that sellers must only disclose issues uncovered either before or during the sale; they do not have to make any repairs.