If you are a first-time homebuyer, you are likely to experience some trepidation about purchasing your starter home. After all, you may not know much about building codes, structural integrity or usage restrictions. While there are ways to become an informed buyer, you can count on sellers to make certain disclosures to you.
Unlike in many other states, Georgia law does not require sellers to complete disclosure forms. Still, courts have determined sellers must tell buyers about known material defects. The purpose of this approach is to keep sellers from passing defective houses to unsuspecting buyers.
What is a material defect?
As the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors notes, a material defect is a problem with the home that has a significant and adverse impact on the value of the property. For example, while a seller probably does not have to tell you about sagging wallpaper, the seller should mention a sagging foundation.
Are there any exceptions to the disclosure requirement?
Even though sellers must disclose material defects, they do not have to tell buyers about defects that are readily apparent and obvious. For example, a seller probably does not have to notify you of a missing roof, as you can clearly see the sky during your walkthrough or home inspection. This is true even though a missing roof is likely to significantly and adversely affect the value of the house.
Ultimately, because you likely do not have the experience or training to find possible defects during your first-time home purchase, it is advisable both to work with a qualified home inspector and to pose some questions to the seller.