MASON CITY, IA - It may not feel like it outside but spring has sprung and so have house buyers and sellers. We did some research to protect both buyers and sellers from fighting a legal battle this house hunting season.
“Play by the rules, you’re not going to get burned,” says realtor Richard Mathes.
He emphasizes the importance of a seller’s honesty when selling their home.
“You’re going to ask them to fill out many forms about the property and its current condition as best they know it,” says Mathes.
But some folks are a little hesitant to list specific problems because they are afraid their home’s value will decrease.
“Folks are concerned, you know, gee I’m going to lose value, but you are much better off to tell the truth and to get it out there than you are to be sued later on and have to go hire an attorney to defend you in court,” comments Bill Brauch with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.
And Mathes says the courts don’t take kindly to this type of fraud.
“If latent misinformation or lying I guess is proven in court, the Iowa courts do not look favorably on false disclosure,” he says.
Now if you’re a buyer, there are a few steps you can take to avoid problems down the road.
“All the agents I know recommend that their buyers hire professionals to do inspections for structural, plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, radon,” advises Mathes.
And if you do find an unreported problem, you have options.
“The first thing is to contact that seller or if there was a realtor, contact that realtor and give them a chance to make it right. If that doesn’t work then you have some other options. You can file a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and it doesn’t cost you anything to do that or you can go to a private attorney and talk about your options there. You are not without hope and you’re not without help,” says Brauch.
He says, another good tip is to bring someone with you when house hunting who knows what to watch out for.