When you are buying a home, there is so much to think about. You need to know your price range, what you are looking for in a house, and where you want to live. If you have children you will want to check out the surrounding schools, and if you are moving into a home or condominium governed by an association, you will need to consider whether you can abide by the association’s rules and restrictions.
If that’s not enough, you also need to know and understand what your “due diligence” obligations are and why they are important.
Not sure what we are talking about? Well, perhaps a look at Georgia’s disclosure laws may make things a bit clearer.
Disclosure Laws in Georgia
When you are buying a home, you want to find out all you can about the home itself and the surrounding area. You will want to find out all you can about the condition of the home, but you will also want to know a little something about the neighborhood and you future neighbors.
For example, you will want to know if any of your neighbors are registered sex offenders. You may also want to know if anyone died in the house you are about to purchase, or if anyone living there had any contagious diseases.
Unfortunately, if you live in Georgia, you cannot rely on the seller to tell you any of this information.
Because Georgia’s disclosure laws do not require a seller to disclose these or a whole lot of other things like them, to a prospective purchaser.
What Does a Seller Have to Disclose?
In Georgia, a seller’s disclosure obligation is as the condition of the property only. It does not run to things that may have occurred on the property. A seller is obligated to:
- disclose any material defects (i.e., conditions) existing on the property, and
- honestly answer direct questions asked of him/her by the buyer.
So, if you want to know whether any of your neighbors is a registered sex offender, or whether anyone living at the house had a communicable disease, or if there is a meth lab nearby, as part of conducting your due diligence before you buy a home, you will need to ask.
What About Brokers?
You cannot rely on a listing broker to fill you in on things that occurred in the home either. Brokers are also not required to share information about things that occurred in the home. If they are asked, they must answer honestly, just as a seller is required to, but brokers do not have a duty to provide any unsolicited information.
These and other factors make it important for buyers to conduct their own due diligence when it comes to buying a house.
Protecting Your Interests
At the Law offices of Mark Weinstein, we practice all aspects of Georgia real estate law. We serve clients in and around Atlanta, Marietta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Kennesaw, Forsyth County, and a number of other counties in Georgia. To speak to one of our real estate attorneys, call 770-888-7707 or contact us here.