Traditionally, homes were bought and sold on the principle of let the buyer beware.

In other words, as long as the sellers of the home did not outright lie to the buyer, they would have no obligation to tell the buyer what was wrong with the home.  It was the buyer’s job to discover problems and decide whether or not to go forward with the sale.

Modern Florida law has changed this rule considerably. Those who are selling a home in Florida now have an obligation to disclose any and all facts which affect, and usually decrease, the value of the property and do so significantly.

There are a couple of important exceptions to this rule.

For one, a seller need not report an issue if the buyer could observe it.

To give an extreme example, the seller of a house without a roof would not have to give the buyer notice that the house has no roof, since the buyer would be able to observe that.

On the other hand, if the defect in the property is so concealed that the seller did not know about it, then the seller does not have an obligation to disclose it.

While Florida law allows for a verbal disclosure, most real estate transactions will handle the disclosure in writing. Incidentally, other provisions in Florida law have other disclosure requirements, including information about radon and the home’s insulation. Likewise, sellers must disclose if there is a pending code enforcement case involving the property.

This disclosure law can be an issue should a seller move into a home only to discover that the home was not in the condition it appeared to be.

If there is evidence that the seller knew about an issue, but did not disclose it, then the buyer may be able to pursue legal action. Those in the Naples area who are in this situation should consider speaking to a residential real estate attorney.