Like many parts of the country, Michigan communities in Detroit and surrounding areas are still experiencing a real estate boom while frustrated homebuyers try to keep up with the influx of investors. Whether buying that dream home or cashing in on affordable rental housing opportunities, it is important not to rush into the deal before checking out any issues that may be hidden from plain sight.
While every state has different laws concerning the seller’s disclosure of a property, only a few have “caveat emptor” rules that leave buyers at risk of entering a bad deal. Because buyers are often unaware of their rights concerning these and other aspects of a sale, it always helps to get tips on the legal aspects of a real estate transaction to avoid making a costly mistake.
Seller’s disclosure laws
It is seller’s disclosure laws that provide transparency to the property sale by requiring that the seller let the prospective buyer know of faults, such as termite or water damage, a leaky roof, or plumbing issues, before to go through with the transaction. If the seller omits certain problems on the seller’s disclosure form and the buyer later discovers these issues, these laws allow them to sue the seller for damages.
Federal disclosure requirements for homes built before 1978 mandate that sellers include a lead-based paint disclosure form, found on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency site, to warn buyers of the risk of exposure to lead-based paint in the home. Federal law also requires sellers to also include a lead warning statement in the contract.
Michigan’s seller disclosure laws
Michigan laws provide a comprehensive list of mandatory disclosures that the seller must truthfully fill out on the seller’s disclosure form. In addition to the standard list of conditions to the home, such as previous water damage, insulation issues, electrical system condition, settling or foundation problems, roof leaks, or termite infestations, the seller must also provide a full disclosure of:
- Household appliances such as the alarm or intercom system, kitchen appliances, heat and air conditioning systems, air filtration, humidifying, or solar heating systems, as well as condition of the chimney and fireplace.
- City, township, or county disclosure requirements, including municipal assessments or fees.
- Shared features of a property with a neighbor such as a wall or fence, as well as encroachments or easements on the property.
- Common areas over which a homeowner’s association has control.
The seller should be aware that the “as is” clause in the purchase agreement does not preclude the buyer from later pursuing a claim of fraudulent misrepresentation against them, even if the home inspection did not reveal the fault at the time of sale.