Florida Real Estate Sellers Disclosure Form Details

Florida Real Estate Sellers Disclosure Form Details


I’m Eric Lanigan with Lanigan and Lanigan
attorneys in Winter Park Florida. I want to talk for a minute today on the subject of
real estate disclosures by the seller in the real estate transaction. And the question I want to pose is, is the
tip of the iceberg enough? And what I mean by that is in the seller making a disclosure,
is it enough just to identify the problem without giving any details? For example if someone has a disclosure and
they say termites. And it says termites reported and pest control company did treatment. That’s
the facts out of an actual case. The buyer ended up suing the seller for termite damages. Now you would think, well they made the disclosure
but what the evidence later showed is that there had been twelve different discoveries
of termite infestation and twelve different termite treatments all within just the
previous five years. So obviously this is a property that’s sitting on top of an ocean
of termites. So the problem is far more severe than just, well we had some termites and we
called in a termite company and they did the treatment. So, basically the trial court said that, that
was sufficient that they made the disclosure. The appellate court came back and reversed
that decision and said you can’t get away with merely disclosing the tip of the iceberg.
You must give the full extent of the problem especially when, and I think common sense
comes into play here, especially when you know that what you have said really masks
the problem and makes it sound like much less than it is. So you’ve got to tell what the
extent of the problem is. We have an actual case ongoing right now where
an individual bought a home. They moved here from the Midwest. They bought a home. On the
disclosure statement was the word sinkhole. Now, they didn’t even know what a sinkhole
was. And they actually got an alleged report about the amount of sinkhole damages on the
property and as a result they determined what the cost of that repair would be and they
entered into a contract but they lowered the purchase price down to cover the cost of those
repairs. Well, what my client subsequently found out
was that the sinkhole damage literally covered the entire property and her home was literally
teetering on top of the hole and that the report she got was actually only half the
report. And while she had paid around $250,000 for this property the cost to repair and,
whenever you’re talking about sinkholes you’re talking about maybe repair, but the
cost of repair was going to be $340,000. So, we clearly have a case where they disclosed,
not only did they just disclose the tip of the iceberg, but they did everything to hide
the level and severity of the iceberg that was under the water. So if you’re going
to make a disclosure, you’re going to have to make the full disclosure. Now what if you make a partial disclosure
in an area where there is no duty to disclose at all but you magnanimously put in some disclosure
such as a one word type of disclosure without saying anything else. Can you get away with
saying well, gee, I didn’t even have a duty to put that in there. And the answer is it
won’t work. Because even if you don’t have a duty, once
you assume the duty then you likewise assume the duty to do it in its entirety. So there
again you would be required to make a full disclosure. The tip of the iceberg won’t
work. And I think the easy way to think of this and what I tell clients all the time
is the truth is only the truth if it’s the whole truth. Again, I’m Eric Lanigan, Lanigan and Lanigan
attorneys, Winter Park, Florida.

3 thoughts on “Florida Real Estate Sellers Disclosure Form Details

  1. I bought a commercial lot with housing that was included. The main lot is fine but the house has black mold from roof leaks. It wasn't in my disclosure they gave me so can I call you if I have property down there but live up in Michigan?

  2. How does someone find out that the leak was there if they don't have proof and the seller said it wasn't there. You can't take anyone's word it sounds like.

  3. Good points but Mr. Lanigan how can a buyer be protected from lying sellers?

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