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What happens if I buy a home with material latent defects?

If you purchase a home in Florida and discover immediately afterward that there are issues that the seller did not disclose before the closing, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. Keep in mind that not every potential problem that you encounter with your home is something that the previous owner should tell you about. Some issues that may occur after you close on your home are natural, such as the settling of the foundation.  

Here is a brief overview of what you should know about purchasing property with material latent defects. 

What are material and latent defects? 

Major issues that the seller knew about and did not fix, that could have resulted in you not going forward with the transaction, are material defects. Common types of material defects include mold problems, foundation issues and other concerns that can significantly impact the value of the property. Keep in mind that some major problems may also classify as latent. Latent problems are those that are hidden and not obvious. Sellers must disclose any latent and material defects of their properties to potential buyers. 

Did the seller commit fraud? 

Purchasing an "as-is" property does not completely absolve sellers of their responsibility to disclose material or latent defects to you, the buyer. If your purchase agreement contains an "as-is" clause, you cannot bring litigation against the seller if he did not know disclose problems that he knew nothing about. But if the seller did know about the material or latent defects that you are encountering and took measures to hide them so they were not discoverable by an inspection prior to closing, then the seller has committed fraud and may be held liable.

Resolving real estate transactions involving material latent defects and seller fraud issues is very complex and time-consuming. You may benefit from speaking with an attorney to learn your options.

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