Residential real estate unlike commercial properties in Florida is not “let the buyers beware” even if the property is being offered on an ”as is” basis. However, the seller is only responsible for property defects of which they have actual knowledge.
The court case of Johnson v. Davis, 480 So.2d 625 (Fla. 1985)) requires sellers of homes and other residential properties to make certain disclosures (also known as seller disclosures) to buyers about the property’s condition and history. Some of these disclosures include, but are not limited to environmental hazards (i.e. asbestos, lead-based paint , mold, Chinese drywall, past or present sinkholes), wood-destroying organisms (termites and carpenter ants), and any problems with essential components of the home (i.e. the roof (leaks), plumbing, electrical wiring, major appliances (included in the potential sale), HVAC, etc.). Per Florida Statutes § 689.25, a seller is not required to disclose that the property has been inhabited by a person infected with HIV or AIDS, or that a murder or suicide has occurred or is suspected to have occurred on the property. According to the court case of Jensen v. Bailey, 76 So.3d 980 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2011), a buyer claims in court to have discovered a defect that seller did not properly disclose that he must provide evidence supporting his claim. This is because the seller is responsible for only the defects that he knows about. As you can imagine, this can become complicated if the property has transferred several times.
Real Estate Tax Disclosures:
Although the real estate taxes can and probably will change every year, the seller is required to provide a prospective buyer with property tax disclosure summary (Fla. Stat. § 689.261). In Florida, there are ad valorem taxes and non-ad valorem Assessments (not value based). Ad valorem tax (Latin for “according to value”) is a tax based on the value of real estate or personal property.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosures:
If your home was built prior to 1978, you must disclose any known existence of lead-based paint. (The federal lead disclosure requirements are found at 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 4851-56.) According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you must also provide an EPA-approved pamphlet addressing lead-based paint hazards.
A prospective parcel owner in a community must be presented a disclosure summary before executing the contract for sale. Some of this disclosure include the community name, whether membership is mandatory, and any fees associated with it.
Affiliated Business Disclosures:
As you can image, there is the possibility that the agent and/or real estate brokerage has a business interest in a related business that is part of a transaction. As such, buyers are required to acknowledge that they know about the business relationship (if any).
Thinking of buying real estate? You should consider using a realtor. If you are interested in buying real estate (new home, existing home, or commercial property), please contact me (Alan Lane with Keller Williams Realty at 2119 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon, Florida 33511). As a life long resident of Central Florida, I can help you find the right property for you whether it is in Lakeland or as far south as Sarasota. The Keller Williams offices of ”Suburban Tampa” include the offices in Brandon, Plant City, Fishhawk Ranch, and our newest office in Valrico. My email address is email@example.com, or call me at 813.205.9280. If you are just starting your search, you can search the MLS for real estate opportunities on my website at this link.