Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


PROPERTY CONDITION DISCLOSURE OR CAVEAT EMPTOR?? If that is the question, I vote for caveat emptor. It's better for home buyers!! #2 in a series

This is an important post. 

One of the states where I work, Virginia, is a Caveat Emptor state, but what is the real signficance to sellers and agents?  Ah!  I feel a blog coming on.  But read Lenn first. 

PROPERTY CONDITION DISCLOSURE OR CAVEAT EMPTOR??  If that is the question, I vote for caveat emptor.  It's better for home buyers!!  #2 in a series. 

This post is a follow-up to MARYLAND PROPERTY CONDITION DISCLOSURE STATEMENTS - A RANT!!!  #1 in a series.

I do not believe that a buyer should RELY ON A SELLER for facts about the condition of the property for sale. 

Maryland is a disclosure state and encourages home owner/sellers to disclose property condition and requires the use of a RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY DISCLOSURE STATEMENT / DISCLAIMER. 

Virginia is a state that follows the practice of caveat emptor (Buyer Beware) and advises prospective buyers that they have an opportunity to INSPECT a property under consideration.

Based on my experience with many transaction in MD and VA, I favor the VA practice.  The seller has NO REQUIREMENT TO DISCLOSE ANYTHING. 

Does that sound like a very pro seller opinion??    To the contrary, it's really a very pro-buyer position.  About 99% of my sales over the past many years has been that of a Buyer's Agent or Buyer's Broker.   

Over 1,500 transaction with either myself or an agent in my company representing a home buyer has given me a wealth of experience with respect to property condition disclosure.  

When a buyer is purchasing a piece of land and improvements thereon or a condo on a piece of land, they have a DUTY TO THEMSELVES to have the inspections done FOR THEMSELVES to determine property condition 

Once the buyer relies on the seller for information about a piece of land and improvements for sale, the matter of disclosure includes the knowledge, willingness to disclose, honesty, advice from their agent and any number of caveats that affect that disclosure. 

Best a prospective buyer observe and inspect the property for themselves and by themselves and make the decision to buy accordingly.

IMO, the 4 page Residential Property Condition Disclosure and Disclaimer Statement required in MD is worthless and can be very misleading whether or not that was the seller's intention.  I always read the disclosure statement and find only about 1 in every 10 reviewed are completed in full.  Further, in a high percentage of sales, the home inspection will reveal a defect that is NOT DISCLOSED by the seller. 

I believe that far too many buyers will rely on a detailed disclosure statement from a home owner/seller to their detriment. 

                                    Home Inspector

Home Inspector, "This roof is 'beyond it's useful life' and will need to be replaced very soon  There have been several repairs and there is evidence that water is intruding the attic."
Buyer, "The seller disclosed that he didn't know the age of the roof."  He's owned the property for 6 years."

Home Inspector, "I believe that recent repairs have been made and, if you plan to buy this house, you should budget to replace the roof soon."


Courtesy, Lenn Harley, Broker,, 800-711-7988, serving home buyers in MD and Northern Virginia. 

See:  Home Inspections Protect Home Buyers

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Comment balloon 5 commentsPatricia Kennedy • April 23 2012 07:32PM


Hi Pat, NC is also a "Buyer Beware" state and we always advise buyers to not depend on whatever the seller discloses...they need to perform their own Due Diligence.  Sellers do not always truly know the condition of their property!

Posted by Mona Gersky, GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate. (MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC) over 8 years ago

Virginia is a caveat emptor state in many ways.  This means buyer beware.  And it stimulated my post a while ago called "Caveat Omnia," -- beware of everything!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Pat, CT is a disclosure state, however.... the seller can decide to pay a $300 fine at closing and not provide a disclosure. Lenn is right, although some disclosures are better than others, the buyer needs to do their due diligence for sure!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 8 years ago

Hi Pat, NY is a disclosure state but most all attorneys (and we do have them on every transaction) advise their sellers to pay the $500,00 fine and not fill out the disclosure form.  So not sure why we needed more laws and more paper work when we were doing just fine with Caveat Emptor!  Happy Day

Posted by Beth and Richard Witt, Long Island Cash Home Buyer 516-330-6940 (Long Island Cash Home Buyer) over 8 years ago

Good choice for a reblog, Pat! I would have missed this one! I need to check out this series! thanks

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 8 years ago