Real estate laws on disclosure require sellers and their agents to document any past or present defects of a property to potential buyers. These regulations vary between states, making it imperative to familiarize yourself with your local legislation. Here’s what residents of Alabama looking to buy residential property need to know.
What Real Estate Laws Regarding Disclosure Cover
Alabama follows the rule of caveat emptor—Latin that essentially translates to “buyer beware.” Sellers in this state have no actual legal duty to advise buyers of issues regarding a structure’s physical condition. The responsibility of discovering defects, like cracks in the foundation, lies with the buyers.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. A seller must reveal any known defects if these pose a healthy or safety risk, like asbestos. They also can’t lie if questioned directly about potential problems. For example, if the buyer asks about pest problems, the seller needs to share former instances in which an exterminator was called.
Additionally, if there is a fiduciary relationship—a legal responsibility to act in another person’s best interests—between the buyer and seller, caveat emptor no longer applies. Say the seller is the buyer’s doctor. If they know the buyer’s asthma is triggered by mold but fail to mention spores growing in the basement, they may be found at fault.
How to Review Real Estate Disclosure
If you are buying property in Alabama, always ask the seller or their agent to fill out a property disclosure form. These detailed documents cover health and safety concerns, such as pests or dangerous materials like lead-based paint, as well as environmental issues, like nearby chemical plants.
They also encompass a laundry list of structural and mechanical topics. Possible points to touch on include the state of the roof and foundation, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems. Your best bet when it comes to making sure every detail is covered is to have a local real estate law professional look over the documents.
When residents of Dothan, AL, need legal guidance buying or selling property, they look to Lee, Livingston Lee, Nichols & Barron. With roots dating back to 1948, this law firm has a long-standing reputation for rigorously protecting their clients’ interests. Whether you look to them for assistance with real estate closings or property purchases, you can rely on their attention to detail. Learn more about their work in real estate law via their website. To request a meeting with an attorney, call (334) 792-4156.