What recourse does a buyer have when a seller fails to disclose defects in the condition of the property?
Under Wisconsin law, a seller of real property and real estate brokers involved in
a sale have duties to make certain disclosures about the condition of the property.
Within 10 days after accepting an offer to purchase, the seller must provide the buyer
with a written Real Estate Condition Report, unless the buyer provides a written waiver
of the right to receive a Condition Report. The condition report must disclose all
“defects” in the condition of the property known to the seller. A “defect” includes any
condition that would significantly affect the property’s value, impair the health and safety
of occupants, or shorten the expected normal life of the property.
Similarly, a real estate agent representing a party to a transaction has a duty to
disclose in writing all “material adverse facts” that a party does not know or cannot
discover through “reasonably vigilant observation.” A “material adverse fact” is either:
(1) a fact that a party to the transaction has indicated would affect the party’s decision to
purchase the property and/or the terms of the sale, or (2) a fact that is generally
recognized by competent licensees to be of such significance to most people that it
would impact their decision whether to purchase the property and/or the terms of the
sale. A broker’s duty to disclose material adverse facts extends to all parties to the
transaction (including the party on the opposite side of the transaction from the broker’s
client) is entirely independent of the disclosure duties of sellers, and may not be avoided
with written waivers from the parties to the transaction.
If you believe you have discovered an undisclosed defect or material adverse fact after
purchasing a property, you may have legal recourse against the seller, the seller’s
agent, and/or your own agent. Every situation is unique and is determined by the
specific contract and facts involved. Contact Zimmer & Rens LLC today if you are
experiencing this type of situation and want to find out more about your options.